In 2010 the estate of Henry W. Toll donated to the Museum's
Library his collection of materials on the Grand Canyon. The
collection includes 180 books, several large atlases, periodicals,
catalogs, river runner guides and logs, and postcards. Most are
early works, published from the late 1800s to the 1970s, written by
historians, geologists, biologists, explorers, hikers, and river
runners. There's the translated diary of Francisco Garces, a
Spanish priest who travelled to the mouth of the Colorado River in
his quest to convert Indians (On the Trail of a Spanish Pioneer,
1775-76, ed. Elliott Coues). A much later but equally exceptional
and interesting explorer was Sharlot Hall who journeyed through
Northern Arizona in 1911 (her diary:Sharlot Hall on the Arizona
Strip, ed. C. Gregory Crampton). As a young man in the 1940s, just
another "river rat" then, Barry Goldwater took aDelightful Journey
Down the Green and Colorado Riversand recorded it with photos.
James White of Trinidad, Colorado floated through the Grand Canyon
on crude driftwood rafts, two years before Powell, some say; Powell
thought he was a fraud. White's story is told inFirst Through the
Grand Canyonby R. E. Lingenfelter, 1958.
The most exciting books of all are those written by J. W.
Powell,himself: Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and
its Tributaries, 1869, 1870, 1871, 1872; Canyons of the
Colorado(1885); Major John Wesley Powell, First Through the Grand
Canyon(1915) and many more. Here's a first-hand report
fromExploration of the Colorado River:
"From around this curve there comes a mad roar, and down we
are carried, with a dizzying velocity, to the head of
another rapid. . . Away we go, on one long, winding chute. I
stand on deck, supporting myself with a strap, fastened on either
side to the gunwale [remember, Powell had only one arm], and the
boat glides rapidly, where the water is smooth, or, striking a
wave, she leaps and bounds like a thing of life, and we have
a wild, exhilarating ride for 10 miles."
Henry Toll, who amassed and contributed this wonderful
collection, was a Denver medical doctor and lawyer, and himself a
river rat. He was a member of the Powell Society, a self-described
"collection of free spirits"-geologists, doctors, lawyers and
businessmen from Denver and Boulder-who enjoyed running the
Colorado and other rivers of the West. At one point (1969) they
"got serious" and published River Runners Guides, used by boatmen
for many years. Henry Toll was the contact for this group; shortly
after he died in 2008, the group disbanded and donated its treasury
to the Museum to take care of Toll's collection.
Henry's wife, Lydia, is also an important figure in the Museum's
history, volunteering in various capacities from 1973 until 2005.
She was an advocate for outdoor education, and developed the WEBS
environmental education program for third graders, a collaboration
between the Museum and Balarat, the Denver Public Schools Outdoor
Education Center. This program, which began in 1973, is still going
Portions of the Toll collection are on exhibit in front of the
library, and you can search the entire collection through this
link: library catalog.
Back to Main Page