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Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District with Atlas, by Clarence E. Dutton, 1882

Clarence E. Dutton’s Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District included 23 sheets of beautifully rendered maps and illustrations. Dutton’s extensive scientific research and eloquent writing made the report a seminal work on the Grand Canyon and a classic geology text. It provided a foundation for further research by the U.S. Geological Survey that continues to this day.

Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress

Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District with Atlas, by Clarence E. Dutton, 1882 Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District with Atlas, by Clarence E. Dutton, 1882

Surveying the Grand Canyon

Created by an act of Congress in 1879 to map the western territories of the United States, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) issued its first publication—a report on the Grand Canyon—in 1882. The author, Clarence E. Dutton, a geologist and army officer, had begun surveying the rugged region of the Colorado Plateau as an associate of explorer John Wesley Powell in 1875. Dutton’s monograph on the Grand Canyon inaugurated a series of USGS studies of the geology, paleontology, and related aspects of the nation’s public lands.

Those who have long and carefully studied the Grand Canyon of the Colorado do not hesitate for a moment to pronounce it by far the most sublime of all earthly spectacles.

Clarence E. Dutton, Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District with Atlas, 1882