THE GRAND CANYON AND OUR NATIONAL MONUMENTS
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, ARIZONA. AREA, 958 SQUARE MILES
THERE is only one Grand Canyon. It lies in northern Arizona, and the Colorado River, one of the greatest of American rivers, flows through its inner gorge. It must not be confused with the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, or with any of the grande cañons which the Spaniards so named because they were big canyons.
The Grand Canyon is 217 miles long, 8 to 12 miles wide at the rim, and more than a mile deep. It is the Colossus of canyons, by far the hugest example of stream erosion in the world. It is gorgeously colored. It is by common consent the most stupendous spectacle in the world. It may be conceived as a mountain range reversed. Could its moulded image, similarly colored, stand upon the desert floor, it would be a spectacle second only to the vast mould itself.
More than a hundred thousand persons visit the Grand Canyon each year. In other lands it is our most celebrated scenic possession. It was made a national park in 1919.
The Grand Canyon is not of America but of the world. Like the Desert of Sahara and the monster group of the Himalayas, it is so entirely the greatest example of its kind that it refuses limits. This is true of it also as a spectacle; far truer, in fact, for, if it is possible to compare things so dissimilar, in this respect certainly it will lead all others. None see it without being deeply movedall to silence, some even to tears. It is charged to the rim with emotion; but the emotion of the first view varies. Some stand astounded at its vastness. Others are stupefied and search their souls in vain for definition. Some tremble. Some are uplifted with a sense of appalling beauty. For a time the souls of all are naked in the presence.
This reaction is apparent in the writings of those who have visited it; no other spectacle in America has inspired so large a literature. Joaquin Miller found it fearful, full of glory, full of God. Charles Dudley Warner pronounced it by far the most sublime of earthly spectacles. William Winter saw it a pageant of ghastly desolation. Hamlin Garland found its lines chaotic and disturbing but its combinations of color and shadow beautiful. Upon John Muir it bestowed a new sense of earth's beauty.
Marius R. Campbell, whose geological researches have familiarized him with Nature's scenic gamut, told me that his first day on the rim left him emotionally cold it was not until he had lived with the spectacle that realization slowly dawned. I think this is the experience of very many, a fact which renders still more tragic a prevailing public assumption that the Grand Canyon is a one-day stop in a transcontinental journey.
It is not surprising that wonder is deeply stirred by its vastness, its complexity, and the realization of Nature's titanic labor in its making. It is far from strange that extreme elation sometimes follows upon a revelation so stupendous and different. That beauty so extraordinary should momentarily free emotion from control is natural enough. But why the expressions of repulsion not infrequently encountered upon the printed pages of the past? I have personally inquired of many of our own day without finding one, even among the most sensitive, whom it repelled. Perhaps a clew is discovered in the introductory paragraphs of an inspired word-picture which the late Clarence E. Dutton hid in a technical geological paper of 1880. "The lover of nature," he wrote, "whose perceptions have been trained in the Alps, in Italy, Germany, or New England, in the Appalachians or Cordilleras, in Scotland or Colorado, would enter this strange region with a shock and dwell there with a sense of oppression, and perhaps with horror. Whatsoever things he had learned to regard as beautiful and noble he would seldom or never see, and whatsoever he might see would appear to him as anything but beautiful or noble. Whatsoever might be bold or striking would seem at first only grotesque. The colors would be the very ones he had learned to shun as tawdry or bizarre. The tones and shades, modest and tender, subdued yet rich, in which his fancy had always taken special delight, would be the ones which are conspicuously absent."
I suspect that this repulsion, this horror, as several have called it, was born of the conventions of an earlier generation which bound conceptions of taste and beauty, as of art, dress, religion, and human relations generally, in shackles which do not exist in these days of individualism and broad horizons. To-day we see the Grand Canyon with profound astonishment but without prejudice. Its amazing size, its bewildering configuration, its unprecedented combinations of color affect the freed and elated consciousness of our times as another and perhaps an ultimate revelation in nature of law, order, and beauty.
In these pages I shall make no attempt to describe the Grand Canyon. Nature has written her own description, graving it with a pen of water in rocks which run the series of the eternal ages. Her story can be read only in the original; translations are futile. Here I shall try only to help a little in the reading.
The Grand Canyon was cut by one of the great rivers of the continent, the Colorado, which enters Arizona from the north and swings sharply west; thence it turns south to form most of Arizona's western boundary, and a few miles over the Mexican border empties into the head of the Gulf of California. It drains three hundred thousand square miles of Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. It is formed in Utah by the confluence of the Green and the Grand Rivers. Including the greater of these, the Green River, it makes a stream fifteen hundred miles in length which collects the waters of the divide south and east of the Great Basin and of many ranges of the Rocky Mountain system. The Grand River, for its contribution, collects the drainage of the Rockies' mighty western slopes in Colorado.
The lower reaches of these great tributaries and practically all of the Colorado River itself flow through more than five hundred miles of canyons which they were obliged to dig through the slowly upheaving sandstone plateaus in order to maintain their access to the sea. Succeeding canyons bear names designating their scenic or geologic character. Progressively southward they score deeper into the strata of the earth's crust until, as they approach their climax, they break through the bottom of the Paleozoic limestone deep into the heart of the Archean gneiss. This limestone trench is known as the Marble Canyon, the Archean trench as the Granite Gorge. The lower part of the Marble Canyon and all the Granite Gorge, together with their broad, vividly colored and fantastically carved upper canyon ten miles across from rim to rim, a mile high from water to rim-level, the climax of the world of canyons and the most gorgeous spectacle on earth, is the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. It lies east and west in the northern part of the State.
To comprehend it, recall one of those ditches which we all have seen crossing level fields or bordering country roads. It is broad from rim to rim and deeply indented by the side washes which follow heavy showers. Its sides descend by terraces, steep in places with gentle slopes between the steeps, and on these slopes are elevations of rock or mud which floods have failed to wash away. Finally, in the middle, is the narrow trench which now, in dry weather, carries a small trickling stream. Not only does this ditch roughly typify the Grand Canyon, reproducing in clumsy, inefficient miniature the basic characteristics of its outline, but it also is identical in the process of its making.
Imagining it in cross-section, we find its sides leading down by successive precipices to broad intermediate sloping surfaces. We find upon these broad surfaces enormous mesas and lofty, ornately carved edifices of rock which the floods have left standing. We find in its middle, winding snakelike from side to side, the narrow gorge of the river.
The parallel goes further. It is not at all necessary to conceive that either the wayside ditch or the Grand Canyon was once brimful of madly dashing waters. On the contrary, neither may ever have held much greater streams than they hold to-day. In both cases the power of the stream has been applied to downward trenching; the greater spreading sides were cut by the erosion of countless side streamlets resulting temporarily from periods of melting snow or of local rainfall. It was these streamlets which cut the side canyons and left standing between them the bold promontories of the rim. It was these streamlets, working from the surface, which separated portions of these promontories from the plateau and turned them into isolated mesas. It was the erosion of these mesas which turned many of them into the gigantic and fantastic temples and towers which rise from the canyon's bowl.
Standing upon the rim and overlooking miles of these successive precipices and intermediate templed levels, we see the dark gorge of the granite trench, and, deep within it, wherever its windings permit a view of its bottom, a narrow ribbon of brown river. This is the Coloradoa rill; but when we have descended six thousand feet of altitude to its edge we find it a rushing turbulent torrent of muddy water. Its average width is three hundred feet; its average depth thirty feet. It is industriously digging the Grand Canyon still deeper, and perhaps as rapidly as it ever dug since it entered the granite.
Developing the thought in greater detail, let us glance at the illustrations of this chapter and at any photographs which may be at hand, and realization will begin. Let imagination dart back a million years or more to the time when this foreground rim and that far rim across the vast chasm are one continuous plain; perhaps it is a pine forest, with the river, no greater than to-day, perhaps not so great, winding through it close to the surface level. As the river cuts downward, the spring floods following the winter snows cave in its banks here and there, forming sharply slanted valleys which enclose promontories between them. Spring succeeds spring, and these side valleys deepen and eat backward while the promontories lengthen and grow. The harder strata resist the disintegration of alternate heat and cold, and, while always receding, hold their form as cliffs; the softer strata between the cliffs crumbles and the waste of spring waters spreads them out in long flattened slopes. The centuries pass. The ruin buries itself deep in the soft sandstone. The side valleys work miles back into the pine forest. Each valley acquires its own system of erosion; into each, from either side, enter smaller valleys which themselves are eating backward into the promontories.
The great valley of the Colorado now has broad converging cliff-broken sides. Here and there these indentations meet far in the background behind the promontories, isolating island-like mesas.
The rest of the story is simple repetition. Imagine enough thousands of centuries and you will imagine the Grand Canyon. Those myriad temples and castles and barbaric shrines are all that the rains and melting snows have left of noble mesas, some of which, when originally isolated, enclosed, as the marble encloses the future statue, scores of the lesser but mighty structures which compose the wonder city of the depths.
These architectural operations of Nature may be seen to-day in midway stages. Find on the map the Powell Plateau in the northwest of the canyon. Once it was continuous with the rim, a noble promontory. It was cut out from the rim perhaps within the existence of the human race. A few hundred thousand years from now it will be one or more Aladdin palaces.
Find on the map the great Walhalla Plateau in the east of the canyon. Note that its base is nearly separated from the parental rim; a thousand centuries or so and its isolation will be complete. Not long after that, as geologists reckon length of time, it will divide into two plateaus; it is easy to pick the place of division. The tourist of a million years hence will see, where now it stands, a hundred glowing castles.
Let us look again at our photographs, which now we can see with understanding. To realize the spectacle of the canyon, let imagination paint these strata their brilliant colors. It will not be difficult; but here again we must understand.
It is well to recall that these strata were laid in the sea, and that they hardened into stone when the earth's skin was pushed thousands of feet in air. Originally they were the washings of distant highlands brought down by rivers; the coloring of the shales and sandstones is that of the parent rock modified, no doubt, by chemical action in sea-water. The limestone, product of the sea, is gray.
As these differently colored strata were once continuous across the canyon, it follows that their sequence is practically identical on both sides of the canyon. That the colors seem confused is because, viewing the spectacle from an elevation, we see the enormous indentations of the opposite rim in broken and disorganized perspective. Few minds are patient and orderly enough to fully disentangle the kaleidoscopic disarray, but, if we can identify the strata by form as well as color, we can at least comprehend without trouble our principal outline; and comprehension is the broad highway to appreciation.
To identify these strata, it is necessary to call them by name. The names that geologists have assigned them have no scientific significance other than identity; they are Indian and local.
Beginning at the canyon rim we have a stalwart cliff of gray limestone known as the Kaibab Limestone, or, conversationally, the Kaibab; it is about seven hundred feet thick. Of this product of a million years of microscopic life and death on sea-bottoms is formed the splendid south-rim cliffs from which we view the chasm. Across the canyon it is always recognizable as the rim.
Below the talus of the Kaibab is the Coconino sandstone, light yellowish-gray, coarse of grain, the product of swift currents of untold thousands of centuries ago. This stratum makes a fine bright cliff usually about four hundred feet in thickness, an effective roofing for the glowing reds of the depths.
Immediately below the Coconino are the splendid red shales and sandstones known as the Supai formation. These lie in many strata of varying shades, qualities, and thicknesses, but all, seen across the canyon, merging into a single enormous horizontal body of gorgeous red. The Supai measures eleven hundred feet in perpendicular thickness, but as it is usually seen in slopes which sometimes are long and gentle, it presents to the eye a surface several times as broad. This is the most prominent single mass of color in the canyon, for not only does it form the broadest feature of the opposite wall and of the enormous promontories which jut therefrom, but the main bodies of Buddha, Zoroaster, and many others of the fantastic temples which rise from the floor.
Below the Supai, a perpendicular wall of intense red five hundred feet high forces its personality upon every foot of the canyon's vast length. This is the famous Redwall, a gray limestone stained crimson with the drip of Supai dye from above. Harder than the sloping sandstone above and the shale below, it pushes aggressively into the picture, squared, perpendicular, glowing. It winds in and out of every bay and gulf, and fronts precipitously every flaring promontory. It roofs with overhanging eaves many a noble palace and turns many a towering monument into a pagoda.
Next below in series is the Tonto, a deep, broad, shallow slant of dull-green and yellow shale, which, with the thin broad sandstone base on which it rests, forms the floor of the outer canyon, the tessellated pavement of the city of flame. Without the Tonto's green the spectacle of the Grand Canyon would have missed its contrast and its fulness.
Through this floor the Granite Gorge winds its serpentine way, two thousand feet deep, dark with shadows, shining in places where the river swings in view.
These are the series of form and color. They occur with great regularity except in several spots deep in the canyon where small patches of gleaming quartzites and brilliant red shales show against the dark granite; the largest of these lies in the depths directly opposite El Tovar. These rocks are all that one sees of ancient Algonkian strata which once overlay the granite to a depth of thirteen thousand feetmore than twice the present total depth of the canyon. The erosion of many thousands of centuries wore them away before the rocks that now compose the floor, the temples and the precipiced walls of the great canyon were even deposited in the sea as sand and limestone ooze, a fact that strikingly emphasizes the enormous age of this exhibit. Geologists speak of these splashes of Algonkian rocks as the Unkar group, another local Indian designation. There is also a similar Chuar group, which need not concern any except those who make a close study of the canyon.
This is the picture. The imagination may realize a fleet, vivid impression from the photograph. The visitor upon the rim, outline in hand, may trace its twisting elements in a few moments of attentive observation, and thereafter enjoy his canyon as one only enjoys a new city when he has mastered its scheme and spirit, and can mentally classify its details as they pass before him.
To one thus prepared, the Grand Canyon ceases to be the brew-pot of chaotic emotion and becomes the orderly revelation of Nature, the master craftsman and the divine artist.
Entrance is from the south. The motor-road to Grand View is available for most of the year. The railroad to the El Tovar Hotel serves the year around, for the Grand Canyon is an all-year resort. There is a short winter of heavy snows on the rim, but not in the canyon, which may be descended at all seasons. Both routes terminate on the rim. Always dramatic, the Grand Canyon welcomes the pilgrim in the full panoply of its appalling glory. There is no waiting in the anteroom, no sounding of trumpets, no ceremony of presentation. He stands at once in the presence.
Most visitors have bought tickets at home which permit only one day's stay. The irrecoverable sensation of the first view is broken by the necessity for an immediate decision upon how to spend that day, for if one is to descend horseback to the river he must engage his place and don his riding-clothes at once. Under this stress the majority elect to remain on the rim for reasons wholly apart from any question of respective merit.
After all, if only one day is possible, it is the wise decision. With the rim road, over which various drives are scheduled, and several commanding points to whose precipices one may walk, it will be a day to remember for a lifetime. One should not attempt too much in this one day. It is enough to sit in the presence of the spectacle. Fortunate is he who may stay another day and descend the trail into the streets of this vast city; many times fortunate he who may live a little amid its glories.
Because of this general habit of "seeing" the Grand Canyon between sunrise and sunset, the admirable hotel accommodations are not extensive, but sufficient. There are cottage accommodations also at cheaper rates. Hotels and cottages are well patronized summer and winter. Upon the rim are unique rest-houses, in one of which is a high-power telescope. There is a memorial altar to John Wesley Powell, the first explorer of the canyon. There is an excellent reproduction of a Hopi house. There is an Indian camp. The day's wanderer upon the rim will not lack entertainment when his eyes turn for rest from the chasm.
From the hotel, coaches make regular trips daily to various view-points. Hopi Point, Mohave Point, Yavapai Point, and Grandeur Point may all be visited; the run of eight miles along the famous Hermit Rim Road permits brief stops at Hopi, Mohave, and Pima Points. Automobiles also make regular runs to the gorgeous spectacle from Grand View. Still more distant points may be made in private or hired cars. Navajo Point offers unequalled views up and down the full length of the canyon, and an automobile-road will bring the visitor within easy reach of Bass Camp near Havasupai Point in the far west of the reservation.
Many one-day visitors take none of these stage and automobile trips, contented to dream the hours away upon Yavapai or Hopi Points near by. After all, it is just as well. A single view-point cannot be mastered in one's first day, so what's the use of others? On the other hand, seeing the same view from different view-points miles apart will enrich and elaborate it. Besides, one should see many views in order to acquire some conception, however small, of the intricacy and grandeur of the canyon. Besides, these trips help to rest the eyes and mind. It is hard indeed to advise the unlucky one-day visitor. It is as if a dyspeptic should lead you to an elaborate banquet of a dozen courses, and say: "I have permission to eat three bites. Please help me choose them."
Wherever he stands upon the rim the appalling silence hushes the voice to whispers. No cathedral imposes stillness so complete. It is sacrilege to speak, almost to move. And yet the Grand Canyon is a moving picture. It changes every moment. Always shadows are disappearing here, appearing there; shortening here, lengthening there. With every passing hour it becomes a different thing. It is a sun-dial of monumental size.
In the early morning the light streams down the canyon from the east. Certain promontories shoot miles into the picture, gleaming in vivid color, backed by dark shadows. Certain palaces and temples stand in magnificent relief. The inner gorge is brilliantly outlined in certain places. As the day advances these prominences shift positions; some fade; some disappear; still others spring into view.
As midday approaches the shadows fade; the promontories flatten; the towering edifices move bodily backward and merge themselves in the opposite rim. There is a period of several hours when the whole canyon has become a solid wall; strata fail to match; eye and mind become confused; comprehension is baffled by the tangle of disconnected bands of color; the watcher is distressed by an oppressive sense of helplessness.
It is when afternoon is well advanced that the magician sun begins his most astonishing miracles in the canyon's depths. Out from the blazing wall, one by one, step the mighty obelisks and palaces, defined by ever-changing shadows. Unsuspected promontories emerge, undreamed-of gulfs sink back in the perspective. The serpentine gorge appears here, fades there, seems almost to move in the slow-changing shadows. I shall not try even to suggest the soul-uplifting spectacle which culminates in sunset.
Days may be spent upon the rim in many forms of pleasure; short camping trips may be made to distant points.
The descent into the canyon is usually made from El Tovar down the Bright Angel Trail, so called because it faces the splendid Bright Angel Canyon of the north side, and by the newer Hermit Trail which starts a few miles west. There are trails at Grand View, eight miles east, and at Bass Camp, twenty-four miles west of El Tovar, which are seldom used now. All go to the bottom of the Granite Gorge. The commonly used trails may be travelled afoot by those physically able, and on mule-back by any person of any age who enjoys ordinary health. The Bright Angel trip returns the traveller to the rim at day's end. The Hermit Trail trip camps him overnight on the floor of the canyon at the base of a magic temple. The finest trip of all takes him down the Hermit Trail, gives him a night in the depths, and returns him to the rim by the Bright Angel Trail. Powell named Bright Angel Creek during that memorable first passage through the Canyon. He had just named a muddy creek Dirty Devil, which suggested, by contrast, the name of Bright Angel for a stream so pure and sparkling.
The Havasupai Indian reservation may be visited in the depths of Cataract Canyon by following the trail from Bass Camp.
The first experience usually noted in the descent is the fine quality of the trail, gentle in slope and bordered by rock on the steep side. The next experience is the disappearance of the straight uncompromising horizon of the opposite rim, which is a distinctive feature of every view from above. As soon as the descent fairly begins, even the smaller bluffs and promontories assume towering proportions, and, from the Tonto floor, the mighty elevations of Cheops, Isis, Zoroaster, Shiva, Wotan, and the countless other temples of the abyss become mountains of enormous height.
From the river's side the elevations of the Granite Gorge present a new series of precipitous towers, back of which in places loom the tops of the painted palaces, and back of them, from occasional favored view-spots, the far-distant rim. Here, and here only, does the Grand Canyon reveal the fulness of its meaning.
The Grand Canyon was discovered in 1540 by El Tovar, one of the captains of Cardenas, in charge of one of the expeditions of the Spanish explorer, Diaz, who was hunting for seven fabled cities of vast wealth. "They reached the banks of a river which seemed to be more than three or four leagues above the stream that flowed between them." It was seen in 1776 by a Spanish priest who sought a crossing and found one at a point far above the canyon; this still bears the name Vado de los Padres.
By 1840 it was probably known to the trappers who overran the country. In 1850 Lieutenant Whipple, surveying for a Pacific route, explored the Black Canyon and ascended the Grand Canyon to Diamond Creek.
In 1857 Lieutenant Ives, sent by the War Department to test the navigability of the Colorado, ascended as far as the Virgin River in a steamboat which he had shipped in pieces from Philadelphia. From there he entered the Grand Canyon afoot, climbed to the rim, and, making a detour, encountered the river again higher up. In 1867, James White was picked up below the Virgin River lashed to floating logs. He said that his hunting-party near the head of the Colorado River, attacked by Indians, had escaped upon a raft. This presently broke up in the rapids and his companions were lost. He lashed himself to the wreckage and was washed through the Grand Canyon.
About this time Major John Wesley Powell, a school-teacher who had lost an arm in the Civil War, determined to explore the great canyons of the Green and Colorado Rivers. Besides the immense benefit to science, the expedition promised a great adventure. Many lives had been lost in these canyons and wonderful were the tales told concerning them. Indians reported that huge cataracts were hidden in their depths and that in one place the river swept through an underground passage.
Nevertheless, with the financial backing of the State institutions of Illinois and the Chicago Academy of Science, Powell got together a party of ten men with four open boats, provisions for ten months, and all necessary scientific instruments. He started above the canyons of the Green River on May 24, 1869.
There are many canyons on the Green and Colorado Rivers. They vary in length from eight to a hundred and fifty miles, with walls successively rising from thirteen hundred to thirty-five hundred feet in height. The climax of all, the Grand Canyon, is two hundred and seventeen miles long, with walls six thousand feet in height.
On August 17, when Powell and his adventurers reached the Grand Canyon, their rations had been reduced by upsets and other accidents to enough musty flour for ten days, plenty of coffee, and a few dried apples. The bacon had spoiled. Most of the scientific instruments were in the bottom of the river. One boat was destroyed. The men were wet to the skin and unable to make a fire. In this plight they entered the Grand Canyon, somewhere in whose depths a great cataract had been reported.
The story of the passage is too long to tell here. Chilled, hungry, and worn, they struggled through it. Often they were obliged to let their boats down steep rapids by ropes, and clamber after them along the slippery precipices. Often there was nothing to do but to climb into their boats and run down long foaming slants around the corners of which death, perhaps, awaited. Many times they were upset and barely escaped with their lives. With no wraps or clothing that were not soaked, with water, there were nights when they could not sleep for the cold.
So the days passed and the food lessened to a few handfuls of wet flour. The dangers increased; some falls were twenty feet in height. Finally three of the men determined to desert; they believed they could climb the walls and that their chances would be better with the Indians than with the canyon. Powell endeavored to dissuade them, but they were firm. He offered to divide his flour with them, but this they refused.
These men, two Howlands, brothers, and William Dunn, climbed the canyon walls and were killed by Indians. Two or three days later Powell and the rest of his party emerged below the Grand Canyon, where they found food and safety.
Taught by the experience of this great adventure, Powell made a second trip two years later which was a scientific achievement. Later on he became Director of the United States Geological Survey.
Since then, the passage of the Grand Canyon has been made several times. R. B. Stanton made it in 1889 in the course of a survey for a proposed railroad through the canyon; one of the leaders of the party was drowned.
The history of the Grand Canyon has been industriously collected. It remains for others to gather the legends. It is enough here to quote from Powell the Indian story of its origin.
"Long ago," he writes, "there was a great and wise chief who mourned the death of his wife, and would not be comforted until Tavwoats, one of the Indian gods, came to him and told him his wife was in a happier land, and offered to take him there that he might see for himself, if, upon his return, he would cease to mourn. The great chief promised. Then Tavwoats made a trail through the mountains that intervene between that beautiful land, the balmy region of the great West, and this, the desert home of the poor Numa. This trail was the canyon gorge of the Colorado. Through it he led him; and when they had returned the deity exacted from the chief a promise that he would tell no one of the trail. Then he rolled a river into the gorge, a mad, raging stream, that should engulf any that might attempt to enter thereby."
The bill creating the Grand Canyon National Park passed Congress early in 1919, and was signed by President Wilson on February 26. This closed an intermittent campaign of thirty-three years, begun by President Harrison, then senator from Indiana, in January, 1886, to make a national park of the most stupendous natural spectacle in the world. Politics, private interests, and the deliberation of governmental procedure were the causes of delay. A self-evident proposition from the beginning, it illustrates the enormous difficulties which confront those who labor to develop our national-parks system. The story is worth the telling.
Senator Harrison's bill of 1886 met an instant response from the whole nation. It called for a national park fifty-six miles long and sixty-nine miles wide. There was opposition from Arizona and the bill failed. In 1893 the Grand Canyon National Forest was created. In 1898, depredations and unlawful seizures of land having been reported, the Secretary of the Interior directed the Land-Office to prepare a new national-park bill. In 1899 the Land-Office reported that the bill could not be drawn until the region was surveyed. It took the Geological Survey five years to make the survey. The bill was not prepared because meantime it was discovered that the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, now the Santa Fe, owned rights which first must be eliminated.
Failing to become a national park, President Roosevelt proclaimed the Grand Canyon a national monument in 1908. In 1909 a bill was introduced entitling Ralph H. Cameron to build a scenic railway along the canyon rim, which created much adverse criticism and failed. In 1910 the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society proposed a bill to create the Grand Canyon a national park of large size. The Geological Survey, to which it was referred, recommended a much smaller area. By the direction of President Taft, Senator Flint introduced a national-park bill which differed from both suggestions. The opposition of grazing interests threw it into the hands of conferees. In 1911 Senator Flint introduced the conferees' bill, but it was opposed by private interests and failed.
Meantime the country became aroused. Patriotic societies petitioned for a national park, and the National Federation of Women's Clubs began an agitation. The Department of the Interior prepared a map upon which to base a bill, and for several years negotiated with the Forest Service, which administered the Grand Canyon as a national monument, concerning boundaries. Finally the boundaries were reduced to little more than the actual rim of the canyon, and a bill was prepared which Senator Ashurst introduced in February, 1917. It failed in committee in the House owing to opposition from Arizona. It was the same bill, again introduced by Senator Ashurst in the new Congress two months later, which finally passed the House and became a law in 1919; but it required a favoring resolution by the Arizona legislature to pave the way.
Meantime many schemes were launched to utilize the Grand Canyon for private gain. It was plastered thickly with mining claims, though the Geological Survey showed that it contained no minerals worth mining; mining claims helped delay. Schemers sought capital to utilize its waters for power. Railroads were projected. Plans were drawn to run sightseeing cars across it on wire cables. These were the interests, and many others, which opposed the national park.
Last Updated: 30-Oct-2009