The Grand Canyon of Arizona: How to See It

The Grand Canyon Of Arizona: How To See It

By

George Wharton James

Author of “In and Out of the Old Missions,” “The Wonders of the Colorado

Desert,” “Through Ramona’s Country,” etc.

Revised Edition

Boston: Little, Brown, and Company

Kansas City: Fred Harvey

1912

PREFACE TO REVISED EDITION

Because of the completion of a new driveway along the Rim of the Grand
Canyon, and of a new trail to the Colorado River, a second edition of this
book is deemed necessary.

These improvements, which have recently been made by the Santa Fe Railway,
are known as Hermit Rim Road and Hermit Trail. The first, said to be the
most unique road in the world, is nine miles long on the brink of the
Canyon, and the other, a wide and safe pathway down the south wall.

The contents of the volume has been revised, and descriptions of Hermit Rim
Road and Hermit Trail have been added. There are also new portions
describing the drives and trips that may be taken through the forest on the
Rim and in the Canyon itself, each carefully planned so that the traveler
may devote to sightseeing whatever amount of time he desires.

With these additions and alterations, the original plan to provide a
convenient handbook for all travelers to the Grand Canyon is more complete.

FOREWORD

Upwards of ten years ago I sat on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and
wrote “In and Around the Grand Canyon.” In that book I included much that
more than a decade of wandering up and down the trails of this great abyss
had taught me. At that time the only accommodations for sightseers were
stage lines or private conveyance from Flagstaff and Ash Fork, and, on
arrival at the Canyon, the crude hotel-camps at Hance’s, Grand View, Bright
Angel, and Bass’s. The railway north from Williams was being built.
Everything was crude and primitive.

Now the railway is completed and has become an integral part of the great
Santa Fe System, with at least two trains a day each way carrying Pullman
sleepers, chair cars and coaches. At Bright Angel, where the railway
deposits its passengers at the rim of the Canyon, stands El Tovar Hotel,
erected by the railway company at a cost of over a quarter of a million
dollars, which is equipped and conducted by Fred Harvey. Yet El Tovar is
more like a country club than a hotel, in many respects, and, to that
extent, is better.

Hence while nothing in the canyon itself has changed, and while my book,
“In and Around the Grand Canyon,” is still as helpful to the traveler and
general reader as ever, there has been a growing demand for a new book
which should give the information needed by the traveler who comes under
the new conditions, telling him how he may best avail himself of them. This
book is written to meet this demand. It therefore partakes more of the
character of a guide book than the former volume, so it has been decided to
make it lighter in weight and handier in form, so that it can be slipped
into the pocket or handbag, and thus used on the spot by those who wish a
ready reference handbook.

Used in connection with the earlier volume or alone for it is complete in
itself in all its details—it cannot fail to give a clearer and fuller
comprehension of this “Waterway of the Gods,”—the most incomparable piece
of rugged scenery in the known world.

George Wharton James

El Tovar, Grand Canyon,

September, 1909.

CONTENTS

FOREWORD
I. THE GRAND CANYON OF ARIZONA
II. ON THE GRAND CANYON RAILWAY TO EL TOVAR
III. EL TOVAR AND ITS EQUIPMENTS
IV. THE GRAND CANYON AT EL TOVAR
V. THREE WAYS OF SPENDING ONE DAY AT THE CANYON
VI. HOW TO SPEND TWO TO FIVE DAYS AT EL TOVAR
VII. HOW FULLY TO SEE AND KNOW THE GRAND CANYON REGION
VIII. FROM EL TOVAR DOWN THE BRIGHT ANGEL TRAIL
IX. TO GRAND VIEW AND DOWN THE GRAND VIEW TRAIL
X. A NEW “RIM” ROAD AND TRAIL INTO THE SCENIC HEART OF THE CANYON
XI. FROM EL TOVAR TO BASS CAMP AND DOWN THE BASS TRAIL
XII. ACROSS THE GRAND CANYON TO POINT SUBLIME
XIII. HOW THE CANYON WAS FORMED
XIV. THE CANYON—ABOVE AND BELOW
XV. THE HOPI HOUSE
XVI. VISITING INDIANS AT EL TOVAR
XVII. THE NAVAHO AND HOPI BLANKET WEAVERS
XVIII. PUEBLO AND NAVAHO POTTERY AND SILVERWARE
XIX. THE HOPIS AND THEIR SNARE DANCE
XX. AN HISTORIC TRAIL ACROSS THE GRAND CANYON COUNTRY
XXI. THE NAVAHO AND HIS DESERT HOME
XXII. FROM EL TOVAR TO THE HAVASUPAI INDIANS AND THEIR WONDERFUL CATARACT
CANYON HOMES
XXIII. THE FIRST DISCOVERERS AND INHABITANTS OF THE GRAND CANYON
XXIV. EL TOVAR AND CARDENAS AND THE MODERN DISCOVERY OF THE GRAND CANYON
XXV. FRAY MARCOS AND GARCES, AND THEIR CONNECTION WITH THE GRAND CANYON
XXVI. POWELL’S AND OTHER EXPLORATIONS OF THE GRAND CANYON
XXVII. INDIAN LEGENDS ABOUT THE GRAND CANYON
XXVIII. THE COLORADO RIVER FROM THE MOUNTAINS TO THE SEA
XXIX. CLIMATE AND WEATHER AT THE GRAND CANYON
XXX. THE GRAND CANYON FOR PLEASURE, REST AND RECUPERATION
XXXI. THE STORY OF A BOAT
XXXII. THE GRAND CANYON A FOREST RESERVE, GAME PRESERVE AND NATIONAL
MONUMENT

CHAPTER I. The Grand Canyon Of Arizona

Only One Grand Canyon. The ancient world had its seven wonders, but they
were all the work of man. The modern world of the United States has easily
its seven wonders—Niagara, the Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Natural Bridge,
the Mammoth Cave, the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon of Arizona—but
they are all the work of God. It is hard, in studying the seven wonders of
the ancients, to decide which is the most wonderful, but now that the
Canyon is known all men unite in affirming that the greatest of all
wonders, ancient or modern, is the Grand Canyon of Arizona. Some men say
there are several Grand Canyons, but to the one who knows there is but one
Grand Canyon. The use of the word to name any lesser gorge is a sacrilege
as well as a misnomer.

Not in the spirit of carping criticism or of reckless boasting are these
words uttered. It is the dictum of sober truth. It is wrong to even
unintentionally mislead a whole people by the misuse of names. Until made
fully aware of the facts, the traveling world are liable to error. They
want to see the Grand Canyon. They are shown these inferior gorges, each
called the Grand Canyon, and, because they do not know, they accept the
half-truth. The other canyons they see are great enough in themselves to
claim their closest study, and worthy to have distinctive names bestowed
upon them. But, as Clarence Dutton, the eminent geologist, has well said in
his important scientific monograph written for the United States Geological
Survey: “The name Grand Canyon repeatedly has been infringed for purposes
of advertisement. The Canyon of the Yellowstone has been called ‘The Grand
Canyon.’ A more flagrant piracy is the naming of the gorge of the Arkansas
River ‘The Grand Canyon of Colorado,’ and many persons who have visited it
have been persuaded that they have seen the great chasm. These river
valleys are certainly very pleasing and picturesque, but there is no more
comparison between them and the mighty chasm of the Colorado River than
there is between the Alleghanies and the Himalayas.

Sublimity of the Grand Canyon. “Those who have long and carefully studied
the Grand Canyon of the Colorado do not hesitate for a moment to pronounce
it by far the most sublime of all earthly spectacles. If its sublimity
consisted only in its dimensions, it could be set forth in a single
sentence. It is more than two hundred miles long, from five to twelve miles
wide, and from five thousand to six thousand feet deep. There are in the
world valleys which are longer and a few which are deeper. There are
valleys flanked by summits loftier than the palisades of the Kaibab. Still
the Grand Canyon is the sublimest thing on earth. It is so not alone by
virtue of its magnitudes, but by virtue of the whole its tout ensemble.”

What, then, is this Grand Canyon, for which its friends dare to make so
large and bold a claim?

It is a portion—a very small portion—of the waterway of the Colorado
River, and it is so named to differentiate it from the other canyons of the
same river. The canyon system of the Colorado River is as vast in its
extent as is the Grand Canyon in its quality of sublimity. For it consists
of such a maze of canyons—the main canyons through which the river itself
runs; the canyons through which its tributaries run; the numberless canyons
tributary to the tributary canyons; the canyons within canyons, that, upon
the word of no less an authority than Major Powell, I assert that if these
canyons were placed end for end in a straight line they would reach over
twenty thousand miles! Is it possible for the human mind to conceive a
canyon system so vast that, if it were so placed, it would nearly belt the
habitable globe?

Impression on Beholders. And the principal member of this great system has
been named The Grand Canyon, as a conscious and meaningful tribute to its
vastness, its sublimity, its grandeur and its awesomeness. It is unique; it
stands alone. Though only two hundred and seventeen miles long, it
expresses within that distance more than any one human mind yet has been
able to comprehend or interpret to the world. Famous word-masters have
attempted it, great canvas and colormasters have tried it, but all alike
have failed. It is one of the few things that man is utterly unable to
imagine until he comes in actual contact with it. A strange being, a
strange flower, an unknown reptile, a unique machine, or a strange and
unknown anything, almost, within the ken of man, can be explained to
another so that he will reasonably comprehend it; but not so with the Grand
Canyon. I had an illustration of this but a few days ago. A member of my
own household, keenly intelligent and well-read, who had heard my own
descriptions a thousand and one times, and had seen photographs and
paintings, without number, of the Canyon, came with me on her first visit
to the camp where I am now writing. As the carriage approached the rim at
Hotouta Amphitheatre and gave her the first glimpse of the Canyon, she drew
back terrified, appalled, horror-stricken. Subsequent analysis of her
emotions and the results of that first glimpse revealed a state of mind so
overpowered with the sublimity, vastness, depth and power of the scene,
that her impressions were totally inadequate, altogether lacking in detail
and accuracy, and at complete variance with her habitual observations.

Whence came so utter a confusion of the senses? The Canyon is its own
answer. It fills the soul of all responsive persons with awe. Explain it as
one will, deny it if one will, sensitive souls are filled with awe at its
superb majesty, its splendor, its incomprehensible sublimity. And in these
factors we find the great source of its attractiveness, for, in spite of
the awe and terror it inspires in the hearts of so many at first sight, it
allures, attracts and holds those who have once gazed into its mysterious
depths. Indeed, is it not to its very vastness, mystery, solitude and
awe-inspiring qualities we owe its power over us? The human mind is so
constituted that such qualities generally appeal to it. Hence the
never-ceasing call the Canyon will make to the soul of man, so long as a
susceptible mortal remains on earth.

Its Physical Features. Seen at any time it is bewildering and appalling to
one’s untrained senses; but especially in the very early morning, during
the hours of dawn and the slow ascent of the sun, and equally in the very
late afternoon and at sunset, are its most entrancing effects to be
witnessed. At midday, with the sun glaring through into its depths, the
reds and chocolates of the sandstones (which are the predominating colors)
are so strong, and the relieving shadows so few, that it seems
uninteresting. But let one watch it as I did last night, between the hours
of seven and ten, and again this morning from five until eight of the
clock. What revelations of forms, what richness of colors; what
transformations of apparently featureless walls into angles and arches and
recesses and facets and entablatures and friezes and facades. What lighting
up of towers and temples and buttes and minarets and pinnacles and ridges
and peaks and pillars of erosion! What exposures of detached and isolated
mountains of rock, of accompanying gorges and ravines, deep, forbidding,
black and unknown, the depths of which the foot of man has never trod!
Turner never depicted such dazzling scenes, Rembrandt such violent and yet
attractive contrasts. Here everything is massive and dominating. The colors
are vivid; the shadows are purple to blackness; the heights are towering;
the depths are appalling; the sheer walls are as if poised in mid-air; the
towers and temples dwarf into insignificance even the monster works of man
on the Nile. Here are single mountains of erosion standing as simple
features of the vast sight spread out for miles before you, that are as
high as the highest mountains of the Eastern States. A score of Mt.
Washingtons find repose in the depths of this incomprehensible waterway, in
the two hundred and seventeen miles of its length. In width it varies from
ten to twenty miles, and at the point where I now sit writing, where the
Canyon makes a double bow-knot in a marvelous bend, the north wall (which,
in the sharp bend of the river, becomes the south wall of the reverse of
the curve) is completely broken down, so that one has a clear and direct
view across two widths of canyon and river to a distance of from thirty-five
to forty miles. Who can really “take in” such a view? I have gazed upon the
Canyon at this spot almost yearly, and often daily for weeks at a time, for
about twenty years, yet such is the marvelousness of distance, that never
until two days ago did I discover that a giant detached mountain, fully
eight thousand feet high, and with a base ten miles square, which I had
photographed from another angle on the north side of the Canyon, stood in
the direct line of my sight and, as it were, immediately before me. The
discovery was made by a peculiar falling of light and shadow. The heavens
were filled with clouds which threw complete shadows on the far north wall.
The sun happened to shine through the clouds and light up the whole
contour of this Steamboat Mountain (so called because of its shape), so
that it stood forth clearly outlined against the dark field behind. In
surprise I called to my companion and showed her my discovery. Yet, such is
the deceptiveness of distance that, to the unaided eye, and without being
aware of the fact, even my observant faculties had never before perceived
that this gigantic mass was not a portion of the great north wall, from
which it is detached by a canyon fully eight miles wide.

No one can know the Grand Canyon, in all its phases. It is one of those
sights that words cannot exaggerate. What does it matter how deep you
say—in hundreds or thousands of feet—the Canyon is, when you cannot see
to the bottom of it? Strict literalists may stick out for the exact figures
in feet and inches from rim to river—elsewhere given as the scientists of
the United States Geological Survey have recorded them—but to me they are
almost valueless. Its depth is beyond human comprehension in figures, and
so is its width. And the eye of the best trained man in the world cannot
grasp all its features of wall and butte and canyon, of winding ridge and
curving ravine, of fell precipice and rocky gorge, in a week, a month, a
year, or a lifetime. Hence words can but suggest; nothing can describe the
indescribable; nothing can picture what no man ever has seen in its
completeness.

What Men Have Said of the Canyon. Men have stood before it and called it

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