This item has been sold, but you can get on the Waitlist to be notified if another example becomes available.

1962 Les Jones Scroll River Guide and Map of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

[Les Jones Grand Canyon River Guide]. - Main View

1962 Les Jones Scroll River Guide and Map of the Grand Canyon, Arizona


First river guide to the Grand Canyon!


[Les Jones Grand Canyon River Guide].
  1962 (dated)     7.5 x 516 in (19.05 x 1310.64 cm)


A striking 1962 river guide map of the Grand Canyon on a long scroll designed by Leslie Allen 'Buckethead' Jones. Measuring just 7.5 inches high, but roughly 45 feet long! See video below description. The map follows the Colorado River from Lee's Ferry to Lake Mead, passing fully through the Grand Canyon. This made-to-order map is the precursor to the modern riverman's guide and represents the first specific guide to the Grand Canyon intended for river-runners.
A Closer Look
The guide begins with technical notes on the river and elevations, and a list of historic runs of the Colorado River, including Nevills, Powell, Jones' own solo run in 1953, and others. The map then proceeds to detail the river, including elevations, notes on running the rapids, geological information, and commentary on historical points and events - some of which are amusingly anecdotal. He makes specific note of people who died along the river - a not-so-subtle warning to a modern-day river runner. He also mentions camp sites, beaches, possible stops, and hiking trails.
Les Jones River Maps
Les Jones began running western rivers in earnest in 1953 - often in boats he designed and built himself. Jones initially used USGS maps to guide his trips, but quickly realized they were insufficient for river running. As an engineer, he began making his own guides on long scrolls, which were initially taped together. The first guide, covering the Grand Canyon, was issued in 1962. Word of the guides spread in the river running community, and Les began selling them on a made-to-order model. He reproduced his manuscripts on long scrolls of photo-reactive paper - many appear as diazo or whiteprints, a kind of reverse blueprint popular at the time for technical drawings and well-suited for making one-off reproductions with limited equipment. It eventually evolved into a business, with Jones expanding his guides to include maps of most great western rivers. Known guides cover the Grand Canyon, Salmon River, Wind River, Hell's Canyon, Lodore, and Big Bend, among others. Most of the guides are built upon Jones' own reconnaissance, but the guide for the Columbia River and Salmon River in Oregon were made with the assistance of other river runners - Jones himself never visited Oregon or Washington. Generally, the guides range from about 25 to 50 feet in length. Jones recommended putting them in clear paper bags and rolling them open and closed, like a Torah, as one passed the relevant part of the river. In addition to practical rafting instructions, the guides included geological notes, first-hand commentary on historic river voyages, religious notes (he was a devout Mormon), and conservation recommendations. In all, Jones claims to have made some 20,000 river guides, but their use in the field led to a low survivability rate and today they are all quite rare.
Diazo Print or Whiteprint
The diazo print (whiteprint or diazo for short) is a photo reproductive technique best understood as a reverse cyanotype or blueprint. The process yields distinctive blue lines on white paper. Like cyanotypes, the diazo process gained popularity in architecture circles, where it was a simple and effective way to duplicate documents in the field. The earliest diazotypes appeared around 1880 and were adopted for military and field cartographic use from about 1895. The diazo process was commercialized in 1923, when the German firm, Kalle and Company, developed Ozalid, a patented diazo paper that made diazotyping even easier. By the 1950s, it supplemented cyanotypes as the reprographic technique of choice for technical drawings.
Publication History and Census
Les Jones's river maps are difficult to date with precision. Some are dated, others are not. Moreover, they were only marginally updated. The present example is undated, but c. 1962. It has no printed text - only diazotized manuscript - suggesting it is one of Jones' earlier issues.



Leslie Allen 'Buckethead' Jones (August 4, 1922 - June 14, 2020) was an American Mormon engineer and pioneer river guide active in Utah and Colorado in the mid-20th century. He studied at the University of Boseman before moving to Minneapolis, then New York City, where he worked as an engineer in the Met Life Building. He returned to Herber, Utah, in 1953, when his father died, intent on fulfilling his dream of building river boats and running the great western rivers. In that year he completed the first solo canoe voyage through the Grand Canyon. Dissatisfied with existing USGS maps, Les began making his own river guides in the form of long scrolls, starting with the first printed Grand Canyon guide in 1962. Eventually, he produced maps of most of the major rivers in the western United States. Over the course of his career, Les made roughly 20,000 maps of various rivers. Known guides include the Grand Canyon, Salmon River, Wind River, Hell's Canyon, Lodore, and Big Bend, among others. More by this mapmaker...


Good. On diazo paper. Length given is approximate. Some edge wear.