Grand Canyon – One of Seven Wonders

Powell Expedition Boat at the Colorado River, 1872

John Wesley Powell’s boat with chair attached, on the banks of the Colorado River, 1872.

Two years later a much better-funded Powell-led party returned with redesigned boats and a chain of several supply stations along their route. This time, photographer E.O. Beaman and 17-year-old artist Frederick Dellenbaugh were included. Beaman left the group in January 1872 over a dispute with Powell. Beaman’s replacement, James Fennemore, quit in August that same year due to poor health, leaving boatman Jack Hillers as the official photographer (nearly one ton of photographic equipment was needed on site to process each shot.)   Famed painter Thomas Moran joined the expedition in the summer of 1873, after the river voyage and thus only viewed the canyon from the rim. His 1873 painting “Chasm of the Colorado” was bought by the United States Congress in 1874 and hung in the lobby of the Senate.

John D. Lee (of Mountain Meadows Massacre fame) was the first person who catered to travelers to the canyon. In 1872 he established a ferry service at the confluence of the Colorado and Paria rivers. Lee was in hiding, having been accused of leading the Mountain Meadows Massacre in 1857. He was tried and executed for this crime in 1877. During his trial he played host to members of the Powell Expedition who were waiting for their photographer, Major James Fennemore, to arrive (Fennemore took the last photo of Lee sitting on his own coffin). Emma, one of Lee’s nineteen wives, continued the ferry business after her husband’s death. In 1876 a man named Harrison Pearce established another ferry service at the western end of the canyon.

The Powell expeditions systematically cataloged rock formations, plants, animals, and archaeological sites. Photographs and illustrations from the Powell expeditions greatly popularized the canyon land region of the southwest United States, especially the Grand Canyon. Powell later used these photographs and illustrations in his lecture tours, making him a national figure. Rights to reproduce 650 of the expeditions’ 1,400 stereographs were sold to help fund future Powell projects. In 1881 he became the second director of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Geologist Clarence Dutton followed up on Powell’s work in 1880–1881 with the newly-formed U.S. Geological Survey. Painters Thomas Moran and William Henry Holmes accompanied Dutton, who was busy drafting detailed descriptions of the area’s geology. The report that resulted from the team’s effort was titled A Tertiary History of The Grand Canyon District, with Atlas and was published in 1882. This and later studies by geologists uncovered the geology of the Grand Canyon area and helped to advance that science. Both the Powell and Dutton expeditions helped to increase interest in the canyon and surrounding region.

The Grand Canyon, Standing Tall. Photo by David Fisk,

The Grand Canyon, Standing Tall. Photo by David Fisk,

In the 1870s and 1880s, miners began to stake claims in the canyon, hoping that previously discovered deposits of asbestos, copper, lead, and zinc would be profitable. However, access to the canyon and problems removing the ore made exercise not worth the effort.  However, the mining activities did much to improve on the already existing Indian trails within the canyon.

During these early years of the canyon’s exploration, the Indians continued to live in and near the great chasm up until 1882. It was at this time that the United States Army began to move them onto reservations, bringing an end to the Indian Wars. The Havasupai and Hualapai are descended from the Cerbat and still live in the immediate area. Havasu Village, in the western part of the current park, is likely one of the oldest continuously-occupied settlements in the contiguous United States. Adjacent to the eastern part of the park is the Navajo Nation, the largest reservation in the United States.

A rail line to the largest city in the area, Flagstaff, was completed in 1882 by the Santa Fe Railroad. The following year, stage coaches began bringing tourists to the canyon from Flagstaff — an eleven-hour journey.

The two-room Farlee Hotel opened in 1884 near Diamond Creek and was in operation until 1889, when owner, Louis Boucher opened a larger hotel at Dripping Springs. John Hance opened his ranch near Grandview to tourists in 1886 only to sell it nine years later in order to start a long career as a Grand Canyon guide and in 1896 he became the local postmaster.

William Wallace Bass opened a tent house campground in 1890. Bass Camp had a small central building with common facilities including a kitchen, dining room, and sitting room. Located 20 miles west of the Grand Canyon Railway, the rates were $2.50 per day and his stage coach road was used to carry patrons from the train station to the camp.

The Grand Canyon Hotel Company was incorporated in 1892 and charged with building services along the stage route to the canyon.

On February 20, 1883, President Benjamin Harrison established the Grand Canyon as a National Forest preserve which offered some protection for the environment, though logging and mining were still allowed.

In 1896 the same man who bought Hance’s Grandview ranch opened Bright Angel Hotel in Grand Canyon Village.

Tourism greatly increased in 1901 when a spur of the Santa Fe Railroad to Grand Canyon Village was completed from WilliamsArizona. The 64 mile trip cost $3.95. The development of formal tourist facilities, especially at Grand Canyon Village, increased dramatically.

The first automobile was driven to the Grand Canyon in 1902 when Oliver Lippincott from Los Angeles, California, drove his car to the South Rim from Flagstaff. Lippincott, a guide, and two writers set out on the afternoon of January 4th anticipating a seven-hour journey. Two days later, the hungry and dehydrated party arrived at their destination; the countryside was just too rough for the 10 horsepower auto.

In 1903, the Cameron Hotel opened and its owner began to charge a toll to use the Bright Angel Trail.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *