Debut historical fiction series follows 1860s explorer’s expedition through the Grand Canyon

A harrowing adventure for fans of the show, “1883”

BLOOMINGTON, IL – Debut author Tim Piper takes readers on a rip-roaring adventure inspired by a true story through the American West, where a single step into the unknown changes everything for young Jubilee Walker. “The Powell Expeditions” (Sunshine Parade Publishing, January 15, 2024) follows Jubilee on a westward trek during the late 1860s, where he encounters native tribes, survives harsh winters, learns valuable life skills, makes new friends, and discovers his journey is not just physical, but a quest to find a sense of belonging and purpose.

After his mother’s death, seventeen-year-old Jubilee Walker asks to join a scientific expedition led by Major John Wesley Powell, a family friend. Powell initially refuses, but Jubil’s persistence and resourcefulness eventually win him a place on Powell’s crew. However, Jubil’s plans for a life of adventure are complicated by his deepening feelings for his best friend, Nelly Boswell, who is reluctant to spend her life with a man who insists on such a dangerous lifestyle. How will Jubil navigate the hardships and lawlessness of the American West? And will he be forced to choose between a life of adventure and the girl he loves?

Jubil’s story draws on the real-life adventures of naturalist, college professor, and one-armed Civil War veteran Major John Wesley Powell during his Colorado River Exploring Expeditions. Powell became the first explorer to summit Longs Peak in the Colorado Rockies and navigate the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, fixing his place in history as one of America’s great explorers. 

“The Powell Expeditions”

Tim Piper | January 2024 | Sunshine Parade Publishing

Historical Fiction | Coming of Age

Hardcover | 979-8-9884186-0-3 | $19.99 

Paperback | 979-8-9884186-1-0 | $13.99

Ebook | 979-8-9884186-2-7 | $4.99

MORE ABOUT TIM PIPER: Tim Piper is retired from a long career in Information Technology and has been a lifelong hobbyist musician. In his earlier days he was an avid hiker and backcountry camper, but his adventures these days are less strenuous and more comfortable. He lives in Bloomington, Illinois, with his cat, Maggie, who is no help with his writing, but is a stellar companion. He began his education at Illinois State University as an English major, but life circumstances put him on a more pragmatic path, and he graduated with a BS in Business Admin, a degree he finds appropriately named. You can stay in touch with him at


Follow Tim Piper on social media:

Facebook: @Tim-Piper-Author

In an interview, Tim Piper can discuss:

  • How his hike in the Rocky Mountains inspired this adventurous series about Major John Wesley Powell, the first American explorer to navigate the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon
  • The extensive research that went into writing a historical book about the westward expansion
  • Why he thinks Major Powell is under-appreciated and why he feels more people should learn about him
  • The importance of exploring the unknown and appreciating the everyday joys of life, and his personal inspiration in this area

An Interview with

Tim Piper

1. How did you incorporate the true-life adventures of Major Powell into your fictional story?

The story adheres closely to the historical record of Powell’s 1867, 1868, and

1869 exploring expeditions and the people who participated in them. The events

of those expeditions serve as the context for the formative years of my

protagonist, Jubilee Walker, as he makes his way into adulthood in post–Civil

War America.

2. Describe the trip to the Rockies that inspired your novel.

During one of my early trips to Rocky Mountain National Park, I hiked the Longs

Peak Trail. After the hike, I purchased a book on the history of the mountain and

learned the first person to summit it was Major John Wesley Powell. Researching

Powell, I was surprised to learn he had close connections to my hometown,

Bloomington, Illinois. Much of Powell’s life struck me as something out of an

adventure novel, but I did not find any fiction that had dramatized it. I carried the

idea with me for years until finally deciding to make an effort to write the novel I

wanted to read.

3. Why do you feel that Major Powell deserves more recognition?

Over Powell’s lifetime, his adventures, scientific expeditions, and geographic

surveys of America’s developing western frontier led him to conclusions about

land and water use that were far ahead of his time. Though he was very

influential in scientific and academic circles, his recommendations were never

fully adopted by politicians. The impact of failing to address his concerns was

made evident by the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and can still be felt today in terms

of water use policy in the western states. He was one of the first to espouse

conservation policy that still struggles to protect our natural resources against

America’s drive to exploit them.

4. Where do you find your writing purpose and inspiration from?

Though I have always had an artistic nature and enjoyed music and writing as

hobbies, I chose the more expedient path of making a living in the business world

rather than the risky world of the arts. After I retired, my wife was taken ill and passed away, and I was lost for what to do with myself. I tried following my hobby

of music but could no longer find joy in it. But writing provided me with a means

to block out my internal dialogue and pass the days doing something

constructive. These days, I follow my curiosity to research topics that appeal to

me, and then weave those into fictional stories that I would like to read myself.

5. What kinds of research did you do for the story?

Major John Wesley Powell taught at Illinois Wesleyan University in my hometown

of Bloomington, Illinois. I contacted the archive librarian at IWU’s Ames Library,

and was allowed access to their John Wesley Powell Special Collection. These

materials, along with other resources suggested by the librarian led me to a

wealth of information about Powell. Other books and online newspaper articles

provided insights into life during post–Civil War America.

6. What are some key takeaways you hope people will have from your book?

The protagonist, Jubilee Walker, is a young man who knows more about what he

doesn’t want to do with his life more than what he does want. He makes most of his

decisions by following his passions and doing what his heart tells him is right. His

good-natured personality, enthusiasm, reliability, and calm demeanor in the face

of difficult circumstances win him the support and friendship of most people he

meets. Jubil’s philosophy of following his passion and heart is a worthwhile

message for anyone.

7. What is next in the Jubilee Walker series?

The next book in the series is The Yellowstone Campaign. In this story, Jubil is

drawn into the 1870 exploring expedition that paved the way for the first formal

geographic surveys of the Yellowstone Basin in 1871. These in turn led to the

passage in 1872 of a bill designating the area as America’s first national park.

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