Monday, February 26, 2024

Today in 1919: Grand Canyon Becomes U.S. National Park

First named a National Monument in 1908 by Theodore Roosevelt

Coronado and his explorers were apparently the first “white men” to discover it in 1540 — but I’m pretty sure some Native Americans had spotted it at some prior point in history.

In 1540, members of an expedition sent by the Spanish explorer Coronado became the first Europeans to discover the canyon—though because of its remoteness, the area was not further explored until 300 years later. American geologist John Wesley Powell, who popularized the term “Grand Canyon” in the 1870s, became the first person to lead a journey across the entire length of the gorge in 1869. The harrowing voyage was made in four rowboats.

A look at the geography of the area today. 

Obviously there was no Lake Powell or  Lake Mead back then (created in the 20th century by the Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams, respectively). There was no Colorado River Aqueduct, or Central Arizona Aqueduct, or any other manmade diversions of the river water.

So imagine the amount of snow melt that river carried in spring and early summer. And then imagine riding all that in a rowboat like John Wesley Powell did in 1869. 

No thanks.