Grand Canyon cel­e­brates 100 years as a na­tional park

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Insight - BY FELI­CIA FON­SECA As­so­ci­ated Press

The first Euro­pean Amer­i­can who reached the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon mar­veled at what was be­fore him: an as­tound­ing sys­tem of canyons, pro­found fis­sures and slen­der spires that seem­ingly tot­tered from their bases.

The scenery wasn’t enough to con­vince Lt. Joseph Christ­mas Ives that any­one would visit af­ter his group that set out in a steam­boat wrapped up an ex­pe­di­tion in 1858.

“Ours has been the first and, doubt­less, will be the last party of whites to visit this prof­it­less lo­cal­ity,” he wrote. “It seems in­tended by na­ture that the Colorado River along the greater por­tion of its lonely and ma­jes­tic way shall be for­ever un­vis­ited and undis­turbed.”

That clearly wasn’t the way things worked out, and the Grand Canyon in 2019 will cel­e­brate its 100th an­niver­sary as a na­tional park.

De­spite a fed­eral gov­ern­ment shut­down that has closed some other U.S. na­tional parks, the Grand Canyon has re­mained open be­cause Ari­zona de­cided to sup­ply money needed to keep trails, shut­tles and re­strooms open.

It now draws more than 6 mil­lion tourists a year who peer over the pop­u­lar South Rim into the gorge a mile deep, nav­i­gate river rapids, hike the trails and camp un­der the stars.

Early ex­plor­ers came on boat, foot and horse­back of­ten with the help of Na­tive Amer­i­can guides. The wealthy trav­eled by stage­coach in a two-day trip from Flagstaff to the south­ern­most point on the canyon’s South Rim in the 1880s.

The first pas­sen­ger train rolled in from Wil­liams in 1901, but the rail­road was more in­ter­ested in min­ing cop­per than car­ry­ing tourists. The au­to­mo­bile be­came the more pop­u­lar way to reach the Grand Canyon in the 1930s.

Early en­trepreneur­s charged $1 to hike down the Bright An­gel Trail used by the Hava­su­pai peo­ple whose cur­rent-day reser­va­tion lies in the depths of the Grand Canyon, de­vel­oped camp­ing spots and built ho­tels. Tourists paid for drinking wa­ter, to use out­houses and for cu­rios in a tent pitched at the South Rim.

Ralph Cameron, a prospec­tor for whom the Navajo Na­tion com­mu­nity of Cameron is named, was one of the ma­jor op­po­nents of nam­ing the Grand Canyon a na­tional park be­cause he saw how much money could be made from tourism.

Pres­i­dent Woodrow Wil­son signed leg­is­la­tion to cre­ate the park in 1919 but Teddy Roo­sevelt is cred­ited for its early preser­va­tion as a game re­serve and a na­tional mon­u­ment.

He fa­mously said: “Leave it as it is. You can­not im­prove on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.”

Cen­ten­nial events will in­clude Roo­sevelt im­per­son­ators, a his­tor­i­cal sym­po­sium, a liv­ing his­tory week and ef­forts to get vis­i­tors be­yond the South Rim.

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