On January 11, 1908, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt declares the massive Grand Canyon in northwestern Arizona a national monument.  The following video is from the pbs documentary about the National Parks by Ken Burns.

Native Americans lived in the area as early as the 13th century.  The first European sighting of the canyon wasn’t until 1540, by members of an expedition headed by the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado.

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado

The area was remote and inaccessible so it was several centuries before North American settlers really explored the canyon. Geologist John Wesley Powell led a group of 10 men in the first difficult journey down the rapids of the Colorado River and along the length of the 277-mile gorge in four rowboats in 1869.

With the Grand Canyon attracting thousands of tourists each year, it attracted a famous visitor, President Theodore Roosevelt.  Roosevelt was a New Yorker with a particular affection for the American West. Environmental conservation was a major part of his political platform.  He became president in 1901 after the assassination of President William McKinley.  He established the National Wildlife Refuge to protect the country’s animals, fish and birds and then focused on gaining federal regulation of public lands. Though a region could be given national park status–indicating that all private development on that land was illegal–only by an act of Congress, Roosevelt cut down on red tape by beginning a new presidential practice of granting a similar “national monument” designation to some of the West’s greatest treasures.

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In January 1908, Roosevelt exercised this right to make more than 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon area into a national monument.

“Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is,” he declared. “You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”

Congress did not officially outlaw private development in the Grand Canyon until 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Grand Canyon National Park Act. Today, more than 5 million people visit the canyon each year. The canyon floor is accessible by foot, mule or boat, and whitewater rafting, hiking and running in the area are especially popular. Many choose to conserve their energies and simply take in the breathtaking view from the canyon’s South Rim–some 7,000 feet above sea level–and marvel at a vista virtually unchanged for over 400 years.

View from the South Rim

View from the South Rim

View from Mohave Point of the Colorado River flowing through the Grand Canyon.

View from Mohave Point of the Colorado River flowing through the Grand Canyon.

Please enjoy this short video from the Smithsonian Channel

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9 responses

  1. Birgit says:

    This is one on my list to see before I leave this mortal coil. It is amazing how huge it is and so glad it is protected

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  2. Sheryl says:

    The photo of the people on the mules is awesome. Our family took a mule trip into the Grand Canyon in the 1990’s. It was absolutely wonderful, but I think that they discontinued them a few years later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I didn’t know that. So is there another method to go down inside? I’ve never been there. I do really want to go because I know it will be as wonderful as seeing Yellowstone.

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  3. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox
    and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with
    the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service?

    Thanks!

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    • Not sure. I think that is controlled by wordpress.com. I will look around and see if it is something I can control.

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    • I don’t see your original comment. I thought if I deleted your comment, the emails would stop but I don’t see your comment. You question above actually went to spam. I wonder if your original went there too and I deleted it. There doesn’t see to be any where that I control who gets emails. I tried to find it in the forum but couldn’t find an answer. See if you can see the comment in your activity and delete it.

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  4. I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it.

    I have you book-marked to look at new stuff you post…

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