Jedediah Strong Smith – Nevada State Historic Marker 84

Jebediah Strong Smith was an early frontiersman, hunter, trapper, author, cartographer, mountain man and explorer of the western United States and the subject of Nevada State Historic Marker number 84.

Drawing of Jedediah Strong Smith (1799–1831), created around 1835 after his death by a friend from memory. It is the only contemporary image of Smith.
Drawing of Jedediah Strong Smith (1799–1831), created around 1835 after his death by a friend from memory. It is the only contemporary image of Smith.

Born in 1799 in Jericho, New York, Jedediah Strong Smith would grow up to become one of the most significant figures in the exploration of the American West during the early 19th century. His life was a testament to the indomitable spirit of discovery that characterized the era of westward expansion.

From a young age, Jebediah Smith exhibited an insatiable curiosity and an adventurous spirit that set him apart from his peers. Raised in a family of modest means, he received only limited formal education. However, his voracious appetite for learning and his natural inclination for exploration propelled him beyond the confines of the classroom.

Fur Trapping and the Path to the West

At the age of 21, Smith embarked on his first western expedition as a fur trapper, a career choice that would shape the course of his life. He joined the Rocky Mountain Fur Company and ventured into the untamed wilderness of the Rocky Mountains, determined to carve his own path in uncharted territories. His experiences during this period honed his survival skills and deepened his connection to the natural world.

The First Overland Expedition to California:

In 1826, Smith led a pioneering expedition that would take him and his small band of explorers on an arduous journey from the Great Salt Lake to California. This remarkable feat marked the first documented overland journey from the United States into California. Smith’s exploration helped to map previously unknown regions and establish crucial trade routes.

Mapping the West and Bridging Cultures

Jebediah Smith’s exploration efforts were not limited to geography alone. His interactions with various Native American tribes and his ability to communicate across cultural divides showcased his adaptability and diplomacy. He valued the knowledge and insights of the indigenous peoples he encountered, contributing to a more nuanced understanding of the American West.

Jebediah Strong Smith’s legacy is imprinted on the landscapes he traversed and the narratives he helped to shape. His meticulous journaling and mapping laid the groundwork for further expeditions, encouraging subsequent generations of explorers to continue pushing the boundaries of the known world. Smith’s untimely death at the hands of Comanche warriors in 1831, at the age of 32, underscored the risks and sacrifices inherent in his chosen path.

Jebediah Strong Smith’s life epitomized the restless spirit of exploration that defined the era of westward expansion in the United States. His contributions to mapping the American West, fostering cross-cultural connections, and inspiring future adventurers are enduring testaments to his remarkable journey. As a trailblazer who ventured into the unknown with courage and determination, Smith’s legacy continues to inspire individuals to seek new horizons and embrace the thrill of discovery.

Jedediah Strong Smith Nevada State Historic Marker 84 Text

Nevada State Historical Markers identify significant places of interest in Nevada’s history. The Nevada State Legislature started the program in 1967 to bring the state’s heritage to the public’s attention with on-site markers. These roadside markers bring attention to the places, people, and events that make up Nevada’s heritage. They are as diverse as the counties they are located within and range from the typical mining boom and bust town to the largest and most accessible petroglyph sites in Northern Nevada Budget cuts to the program caused the program to become dormant in 2009. Many of the markers are lost or damaged.

From May to June 1827, explorer and trapper Jedediah Smith found a route from California’s central valley to the Great Salt Lake Valley in Utah.  He became the first European American to completely cross what is now Nevada.

Because Smith’s journal and map have never been found, his exact route is unknown.  Based on Smith’s own statements about his difficult trip, modern historians and geographers have pieced together the most plausible route.  Smith crossed the Sierra Nevada at Ebbetts Pass, swung southeast along or across the headwaters and middle reaches of the Walker River, and passed into central Nevada’s open spaces south of Walker Lake.

Smith entered Smoky Valley on its southwest side in June 1827 and crossed the valley in a northeasterly direction.  He then paralleled the future Simpson survey, route of the Pony Express and Overland Stage, along modern U.S. Highway 50.

He entered Utah at Ibapah.


Nevada State Historic Marker 84 Map

Nevada State Historic Marker number 84 is located near Ely, Nevada, in White Pine County. The marker is on U.S. Highway 93, on the east side of the highway. It is found in rest area, four miles north of Ely. 

Nevada State Historic Marker 84 Summary

NamedJedediah Strong Smith
LocationWhite Pine County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude39.2771, -114.8463
Nevada State Historic Marker84


John Wesley Powell

John Wesley Powell, a remarkable American explorer, geologist, and ethnologist, was born on March 24, 1834, in Mount Morris, New York. His expeditions through the uncharted territories of the American West not only added to scientific knowledge but also provided invaluable insights into the land’s geological and cultural diversity. Powell’s legacy as a pioneer of exploration and his tireless efforts in promoting conservation measures have left an indelible mark on American history.

Powell served as the second Director of the United States Geological Survey, a post he held from 1881 to 1894. This photograph dates from early in his term of office.
Powell served as the second Director of the United States Geological Survey, a post he held from 1881 to 1894. This photograph dates from early in his term of office.

Early Life and Education

Powell grew up in rural New York, where his love for nature and the outdoors was nurtured from an early age. Although he lost his right arm in a childhood accident, Powell’s determination and thirst for adventure were undeterred. He developed a keen interest in natural sciences and geography and pursued higher education at Illinois College and later at Oberlin College, where he focused on geology.

Grand Canyon Expeditions

Powell’s most famous and daring expedition was his 1869 journey down the Colorado River, known as the Powell Geographic Expedition. With a team of nine men, Powell set out to explore the largely uncharted canyons and rapids of the Colorado River and gather valuable scientific data. The expedition faced numerous hardships, including treacherous rapids, scarce food supplies, and hostile encounters with Native American tribes. Miraculously, Powell and his crew successfully navigated the treacherous river and completed the journey, providing unprecedented knowledge of the Grand Canyon and its geological formations.

First camp of the John Wesley Powell expedition, in the willows, Green River, Wyoming, 1871. - E. 0. Beaman - War Department. Office of the Chief of Engineers. Powell Survey. (1869 - ca. 1874)
First camp of the John Wesley Powell expedition, in the willows, Green River, Wyoming, 1871. – E. 0. Beaman – War Department. Office of the Chief of Engineers. Powell Survey. (1869 – ca. 1874)

Powell’s subsequent expeditions further solidified his reputation as a fearless explorer. He embarked on multiple journeys across the American West, including explorations of the Green and Colorado Rivers, the Rocky Mountains, and the Uinta Mountains. Powell’s meticulous record-keeping and scientific observations greatly expanded the understanding of the region’s geology, hydrology, and ethnography.

Scientific Contributions

Powell’s expeditions were not merely adventurous endeavors but also scientific ventures aimed at advancing knowledge in various fields. He published numerous papers and reports detailing his findings, including “Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and its Tributaries” and “Canons of the Colorado.” These works significantly contributed to the geological understanding of the American West, shaping subsequent research and studies in the region.

Additionally, Powell’s expertise in ethnology led him to conduct extensive research on Native American tribes. He documented their cultures, languages, and customs, recognizing the importance of preserving their heritage. His ethnographic studies formed a crucial foundation for future anthropological research in the United States.

Conservation Advocacy

John Wesley Powell was not only a scientist and explorer but also an early advocate for conservation. Recognizing the fragile nature of the American West’s ecosystems, he became a vocal proponent of sustainable land use practices and preservation efforts. Powell believed that the arid region’s limited water resources necessitated careful management and planning.

In 1879, Powell presented his influential “Report on the Lands of the Arid Region of the United States” to Congress. This groundbreaking report emphasized the need for responsible irrigation and land development strategies, urging policymakers to consider the long-term consequences of uncontrolled resource exploitation. Powell’s report laid the groundwork for the eventual establishment of the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Reclamation, both crucial agencies in land and water management.

Legacy and Impact

John Wesley Powell’s contributions to exploration, science, and conservation continue to resonate today. His expeditions not only unveiled the wonders of the American West but also inspired future generations of explorers and scientists. Powell’s emphasis on interdisciplinary research and his understanding of the intricate relationships between humans and their environment remain


Subway Canyon – Left Fork of North Creek

Subway Slot Canyon is a unique geological formation located in the Zion National Park in southwestern Utah, USA. It is considered one of the most popular hiking trails in the park, known for its challenging terrain and breathtaking views. The canyon gets its name from its tubular shape, which resembles the underground trains or subway tunnels.

The Subway Slot Canyon located in Zion National Park, Utah.  Photograph by James L Rathbun
The Subway Slot Canyon located in Zion National Park, Utah. Photograph by James L Rathbun


The Subway Slot Canyon was formed millions of years ago by the erosion of Navajo Sandstone, a red-colored rock formation that is found in the southwestern United States. The slot canyon was created by the flow of water, which gradually wore away the sandstone, forming a narrow, winding passage through the rock. The canyon was first discovered by explorers in the 1930s, but it was not until the 1970s that it became a popular destination for hikers.


The Subway Slot Canyon is a part of the Zion Wilderness, which covers an area of approximately 124,406 acres. The canyon is about 9 miles long and ranges in width from 5 to 15 feet. The canyon walls are made up of Navajo Sandstone, which is known for its unique patterns and colors. The sandstone is layered, with different colors and textures, giving the canyon walls a unique and stunning appearance. The canyon also features a series of pools and waterfalls, which add to its beauty.

Flora and Fauna

The Subway Slot Canyon is home to a variety of flora and fauna. The area around the canyon is covered with sagebrush, juniper, and pinyon trees. The canyon itself is home to a variety of ferns, mosses, and other plant species. The canyon is also home to a variety of animals, including bighorn sheep, mule deer, and mountain lions. Hikers may also see a variety of birds, including hawks, eagles, and owls.

Hiking Experience

The Subway Slot Canyon is considered one of the most challenging hiking trails in the Zion National Park. The trail is rated as moderate to strenuous and requires a permit to hike. Hikers must be prepared for a difficult and sometimes dangerous hike, as the trail includes steep drops, narrow passageways, and deep pools of water. Hikers must also be prepared for changing weather conditions, as the canyon can be very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter.

The Subway Slot Canyon is a unique geological formation that offers hikers a challenging and rewarding experience. The canyon’s unique colors, textures, and shapes make it a must-see destination for anyone visiting the Zion National Park. However, hikers must be prepared for the challenges that come with hiking in the canyon, including difficult terrain and changing weather conditions. With proper preparation and precautions, hikers can safely explore the beauty of the Subway Slot Canyon and experience one of the most stunning geological formations in the world.

Temple of Sinawava

Located in Zion National Park in southwestern Utah, the Temple of Sinawava is a stunning geological formation that attracts visitors from all around the world. This natural temple is the result of millions of years of geological processes, and it has been a sacred site for the indigenous people of the area for centuries. In this travel and geological report, we will explore the history, geology, and attractions of the Temple of Sinawava, as well as provide practical information for visitors.

Temple of Sinawava, Zion National Park, Utah, Medium Format Photograph: James L Rathbun
Temple of Sinawava, Zion National Park, Utah, Medium Format Photograph: James L Rathbun


The Temple of Sinawava is named after the Paiute Indian god, Sinawava, who is believed to have lived in the area. For centuries, the Paiute and other indigenous peoples have considered the area to be sacred, and they have performed various rituals and ceremonies there. The Paiute called the area “Mukuntuweap,” which means “straight canyon,” and it was later renamed Zion National Park by the Mormons who settled in the area.


The Temple of Sinawava is located at the end of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, and it is one of the most popular destinations in the park. The temple is a natural amphitheater that was formed by the Virgin River, which has been carving through the sandstone for millions of years. The river has eroded the sandstone in such a way that it has created a stunning array of geological features, including towering cliffs, deep canyons, and narrow slot canyons.

The Temple of Sinawava is a particularly unique geological formation because it is located at the end of Zion Canyon, where the canyon narrows dramatically. The canyon walls rise up to over 2,000 feet in height, and they are composed of various layers of sandstone that were deposited over millions of years. The layers of sandstone are different colors, ranging from red to white, and they provide a stunning contrast against the blue sky.


The Temple of Sinawava offers visitors a variety of attractions, including hiking, wildlife viewing, and photography. The most popular activity at the temple is hiking the Riverside Walk, which is a 2.2-mile round-trip hike that follows the Virgin River to the entrance of the temple. Along the way, hikers will be treated to stunning views of the canyon walls, as well as a variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, mule deer, and numerous bird species.

Once visitors reach the entrance of the temple, they can continue hiking up the river, which leads to the beginning of the Narrows. The Narrows is a narrow slot canyon that is formed by the Virgin River, and it is one of the most popular hikes in Zion National Park. The Narrows can be hiked in two ways, either by hiking up the river or by hiking down the river. Hiking up the river requires a permit and special equipment, while hiking down the river is open to all visitors.

Another popular attraction at the Temple of Sinawava is photography. The temple is a popular destination for photographers, both amateur and professional, who come to capture the stunning beauty of the canyon walls and the river. The best time to photograph the temple is during the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is low in the sky and the light is soft and warm.

Practical Information

The Temple of Sinawava is located in Zion National Park, which is open year-round. The park is located in southwestern Utah, and it can be accessed via State Route 9, which runs through the park. There are a variety of lodging options in the park, including campgrounds, lodges, and hotels, as well as numerous restaurants and gift shops.

Visitors to the Temple of Sinawava should come prepared with appropriate clothing and gear, as the weather can be unpredictable.

Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock is an iconic natural feature located in Arches National Park, Utah, USA. This geological formation consists of a large boulder balanced precariously on top of a much smaller pedestal rock. The rock formation is an example of a natural geological process known as erosion and has become a popular destination for tourists from around the world. In this report, we will explore the geological history of Balanced Rock, its significance, and how it has become an important part of the natural landscape of Arches National Park.

Early Evening At Balanced Rock in Arches National Park, Medium Format Photograph bu James L Rathbun
Early Evening At Balanced Rock in Arches National Park, Medium Format Photograph bu James L Rathbun

Geological History

Balanced Rock is situated in an area known as the Entrada Sandstone Formation. This formation was created around 180 million years ago, during the Jurassic Period, when the region was a vast desert. Over time, layers of sediment accumulated on the desert floor, which eventually became compressed and turned into rock. The Entrada Sandstone Formation is composed of a soft, red sandstone, which is prone to erosion.

Erosion is a natural geological process that occurs when wind, water, and other natural forces wear away at the surface of the Earth. In the case of Balanced Rock, the pedestal rock is made of a harder, more erosion-resistant sandstone than the boulder on top. As the softer sandstone eroded away, the harder rock was left behind, forming a pedestal. Over time, the boulder on top was also eroded, creating the balanced formation that we see today.


Balanced Rock has become an iconic symbol of Arches National Park and a popular destination for tourists from around the world. The formation is an excellent example of the natural geological processes that shape our planet and provides a unique window into the history of the Earth.

Balanced Rock is also significant from a cultural perspective. For centuries, the land that is now Arches National Park was home to indigenous people, including the Ute and Paiute tribes. These tribes believed that the rock formations in the park held spiritual significance and would often conduct ceremonies and rituals in the area.

In addition to its cultural significance, Balanced Rock is also an important habitat for a variety of plants and animals. The area around the formation is home to a variety of desert plants, including cacti and sagebrush, as well as a variety of small mammals and birds.

Conservation Efforts

Arches National Park was established in 1971 to protect the unique geological and cultural features of the area, including Balanced Rock. The park is managed by the National Park Service and is dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of the region for future generations.

Conservation efforts in the park are focused on maintaining the delicate balance between human use and environmental preservation. Visitors to the park are encouraged to stay on designated trails and follow the “Leave No Trace” principles to minimize their impact on the natural environment.

In addition to visitor education, the National Park Service also conducts ongoing research to monitor the health of the park’s ecosystems. This research helps to identify potential threats to the park’s natural resources and develop strategies to mitigate those threats.


Balanced Rock is a natural wonder that has captured the imagination of people from around the world. This iconic formation is a testament to the power of natural geological processes and provides a unique window into the history of the Earth. Its cultural and ecological significance make it an important part of Arches National Park, and conservation efforts are underway to ensure that this unique feature remains protected for future generations to enjoy.