Today, in 1869, the explorer John Wesley Powell named an area of the Grand Canyon after his botanist George Vasey.
Known as Vasey’s Paradise, water spills out from the north rim of the Grand Canyon into the Colorado River. It’s a spectacular, beautiful waterfall.
A year earlier, in 1868, during Powell‘s preliminary expedition, Vasey had accompanied him and collected a large number of plants. Vasey returned to Illinois, where he became the curator of the Illinois State University Natural History Museum and, ultimately, the chief botanist of the USDA.
Here’s what Powell wrote in his about Vasey's Paradise, on August 9, 1869:
"The river turns sharply to the east, and seems enclosed by a wall, set; with a million brilliant gems. What can it mean? Every eye is engaged, everyone wonders.
On coming nearer, we find fountains bursting from the rock, high overhead, and the spray in the sunshine forms the gems which bedeck the wall.
The rocks below the fountain are covered with mosses, and ferns, and many beautiful flowering plants.
We name it Vasey's Paradise, in honor of the botanist who traveled with us last year."