The Journey of Death
By any customary measure, the Colorado River is an unremarkable stream. It does not rank as the longest river in North America, nor the widest, nor the most abundant. Its drainage basin of a quarter-million square miles barely falls within the ten largest in the United States, and much of it covers inaccessible range or desolate wasteland. Unlike the Mississippi, Hudson, and St. Lawrence, to name three great riparian thoroughfares of the continent, the Colorado has never been a significant bearer of commercial traffic.
Throughout history, what has set the Colorado River apart from all other waterways of...