Life and Death in the Grand Canyon
History of the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is important to geologists, historians, hydrologists, and tourists. For most of its history it was hard to reach, difficult to climb into, and even more difficult to descend by boat. Heat and aridity made it hard to stay alive. The leader of the first American expedition, Joseph Ives, wrote in 1858 that “ours has been the first, and will doubtless be the last, party of whites to visit this profitless locality.” Several members of the first Colorado River expedition, led by John Wesley Powell in 1869, were killed by local Indians. As late as the 1950s, the Bureau of Reclamation planned to build a dam that would completely flood it. This talk follows the history of the canyon and the people who have lived there, tracing the surprisingly late-developing idea that it is important, above all, as a place of beauty.