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Insider's Look Podcast 25: Jan. 15, 2010

Ranger Jack Howell explores the history behind Verkamp's Visitor Center.
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Insider's Look at Grand Canyon #25
Ranger Jack Howell talks about the history of Verkamp's Visitor Center.
Running Time 04m:26s - Jan. 15, 2010 - Produced by Park Ranger Patrick Gamman
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JOHN GEORGE VERKAMP STANDING BY  HIS TENT/CURIO STORE. 1897

John G. Verkamp by his 1898 tent store.

Verkamp Family History

John Verkamp headed to the developing South Rim in 1898. He set up a tent and sold souvenirs to the few people who made the long stagecoach trip to the rim. Not happy with the volume of business, at the end of the summer he sold his inventory to one of the hotel operators and went back to Flagstaff.

Development of the South Rim boomed with the completion of the railroad spur in 1901. Verkamp returned to the South Rim in 1905 and constructed the current building with supplies shipped in from Los Angeles. He opened his business early in 1906.

 

January 31, 1906 $4.98 A good day.

So recorded John Verkamp in the ledger for his first day of business in the new store on the South Rim of Grand Canyon. After such a promising start, Verkamp's Curios would continue operations for more than a century.

 
John G. Verkamp

John G. Verkamp (circa 1941)

Service First

The Verkamps built their business on service to their guests, service to their employees, and service to their community.

The Verkamps bought from some of the same Native American artisans for 25 to 50 years. All employees received training to explain the history and meaning of sales items, believing that an informed guest was a pleased buyer.

For decades the Verkamp family was involved in the South Rim community They were instrumental in developing the Grand Canyon School and continued to offer their committed support.

The Shrine of the Ages and community library also received assistance from the family. A Verkamp was a charter member of the Grand Canyon Rotary Club. The Boy Scouts received much support from the family.
 

For decades the Verkamp family operated the Verkamp's store as a concession permitted by the National Park Service. When their contract last came up for renewal, the Verkamps chose not to compete for a new one. The National Park Service purchased the building and opened it in November 2008 as a visitor center and Grand Canyon Association bookstore.

Return to the Visitor and Information Centers page.

 
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Insider's Look at Grand Canyon Podcast

Delivers periodic audio bulletins and enhanced podcasts about park news and events. Topics include anything and everything about Grand Canyon National Park. Hosted and produced by Park Ranger Patrick Gamman.

iPod users, this program is also available on the iTunes Insider's Look at Grand Canyon Podcast Channel

Podcasts are listed in order of release date, with the most recent on the top of the index page.




Return to the Insider's Look at Grand Canyon Index

Did You Know?

THEODORE ROOSEVELT AT THE GRAND CANYON

President Theodore Roosevelt said of Grand Canyon, "Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American should see."