Little Bits of History

Grand Canyon

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 26, 2013
Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

February 26, 1919: US President Woodrow Wilson signs an act establishing the Grand Canyon National Park. The gorge created by the Colorado River is considered to be one of the wonders of the world. The area around the Grand Canyon became a national monument on January 11, 1908 and became a National Park on this date, testimony to early environmental efforts. Park status kept the Colorado River from being dammed within the preserved area although could not stop the Glen Canyon Dam being built upstream. UNESCO has declared it to be a World Heritage Site.

The Park covers 1,217,403 acres or 1,902 square miles of rugged and beautiful country. The Colorado River and her vast system of tributaries have cut through the striated rocks dating from the Precambrian period. The Colorado River is thought to have shifted north due to activity along the San Andreas Fault, a major geologic transform fault along the western coast of the US. The fault line is the border between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates and an area of great volatility and earthquake activity. It is thought the Colorado River once emptied into the Pacific Ocean somewhere along the California coast.

The Colorado River drains an area of 41,070 square miles and the entire region has not yet been mapped. A survey in 1979 covered 1,881 square miles and found 57 perennial water sources – 21 streams and 36 seeps. There are several major ecosystems within the Park. The biodiversity available covers 5 of the 7 life zones and 3 of the 4 desert types in North America. There are over 1,500 plant species and 355 bird, 89 mammalian, 49 reptile, 17 fish, and 9 amphibian species in the Park.

The Park is also rich in scientific resources. The layered rock formations tell the Earth’s story from millions of years ago. There are nearly 40 identified rock layers exposed within the canyon walls. The geological studies remain incomplete and draw scientists to the natural wonders. The oldest human artifacts found in the Park are nearly 12,000 years old. There are over 4,800 archeological resources recorded with a mere 3% of the area surveyed. The Park is breathtaking geologically, archeologically, and of course, visually.

“The region is of course, altogether valueless. It can be approached only from the South, and after entering it there is nothing to do but leave. Ours has been the first, and will doubtless be the last, party of whites to visit this profitless locality. It seems intended by nature that the Colorado River, along with the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed.” – Lt. Joseph Christmas Ives

“In fact, just about all the major natural attractions you find in the West – the Grand Canyon, the Badlands, the Goodlands, the Mediocrelands, the Rocky Mountains and Robert Redford – were caused by erosion.” – Dave Barry

“The Grand Canyon is carven deep by the master hand; it is the gulf of silence, widened in the desert; it is all time inscribing the naked rock; it is the book of earth.” – Donald Culross Peattie

“To stand upon the edge of this stupendous gorge, as it receives its earliest greeting from the god of day, is to enjoy in a moment compensation for long years of ordinary uneventful life.” – John L. Stoddard

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: The Grand Canyon National Park is the 15th oldest park in the US. It is located within the state of Arizona. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the area in 1903 and proclaimed “The Grand Canyon fills me with awe.” He wanted the area preserved, but he was not the first to want to do so. The first bill to create a national park was placed by then-Secretary Benjamin Harrison in 1882. It would have made this the second national park if it had been acted upon. Bills were again introduced in 1883, 1886, and 1893 when it was made a forest reserve. It took quite some time before it was declared a national park and it came under the administration of the National Park Service, established just three years earlier.

Also on this day: Waist Overalls – In 1829, Levi Strauss was born.
WorldWideWeb Browser – In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee introduced his WorldWideWeb browser, the first stable web browser.
World Trade Center – In 1993, the WTC was bombed.

One Response

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on February 26, 2013 at 9:24 am

    “1,217,403 acres or 1,902 square miles” is about the total for the entire Grand Canyon-the Grand Canyon National Park is a small part of that total. One president, Nixon, suggested that I use a US Forestry seeder plane to seed the sides of the canyon within the park, like I had in many California canyons for soil erosion prevention. I responded to the president: “Are you crazy? That canyon is perfect. If some erosion takes place fix that little bit. That place is beautiful”. Nixon was a big fan of prevention and planning, so I often had to treat him like a kid in a candy store when he became president- nothing major but many small and medium projects that were well meaning to all, in his mind!!!

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