12 Important People of the Grand Canyon

Francisco Vázquez de Coronado (1510-1554)

Coronado led an expedition in 1540 through the American Southwest, part of Mexico at the time. This Spanish explorer and his expedition party were the first Europeans to see the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. They attempted to travel down below the rim, but could not find a way to do so. They were successful in discovering the Grand Canyon, but not in exploring it.

Joseph Ives (1829-1868)

In 1857, Ives was the first European American explorer to navigate up the Colorado River and the areas in present-day Grand Canyon National Park. The Ives expedition produced one of the important early maps of the Grand Canyon drawn by Frederick W. von Egloffstein, a topographer on the expedition. “Ours has been the first, and will doubtless be the last, party of whites to visit this profitless locality,” he wrote. “It seems intended by nature that the Colorado River … shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed.” John Wesley Powell would soon prove him wrong.

John Wesley Powell (1834-1902)

Powell led the first official expedition through the entire Grand Canyon, which took three months in 1869. The one-armed leader was a Civil War veteran. His team of ten men completed the U.S. government-sponsored expedition along the Colorado River. He is credited as the first American of European descent to accomplish the task of navigating the length of the Grand Canyon. From 1881 to 1894 he served as the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey. Powell was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in recognition of his national service. The mineral powellite is named after him.

Clarence Dutton (1841-1912)

Dutton worked as a geologist for John Wesley Powell and for the U.S. Geological Survey. In 1882 he wrote a paper on the Cenozoic history of the Grand Canyon District. His colorful and creative descriptions of this beautiful region helped to bring attention to the natural beauty of this area.

President Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901)

Before becoming the 23rd President of the United States, Senator Harrison introduced the first bill to create Grand Canyon National Park in 1882. It failed and he unsuccessfully reintroduced it again in 1883 and 1886. Although the bills failed, it started to pave the way for the future. As president, he was able to establish the Grand Canyon Forest Reserve in 1893, a significant step toward creating the park we know today.

François E. Matthes (1874-1948)

This Dutch geologist mapped much of the remote Southwest United States for the United States Geological Survey (USGS). He did much to assist in the documentation and understanding of the early national parks, including the Grand Canyon region in 1902-03. His topographic maps of the canyon are still referred to today. The North Rim’s Francois Matthes Trail and Francios Matthes point are named after him.

President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

The 26th President of the United States declared in 1908 the 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon a national monument. “Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is,” he wrote. “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.” He was a champion of preserving National Parks and other natural areas for future use, enjoyment, and preservation.

Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter (1869-1958)

Mary Colter, born in Pittsburgh in 1869, became one of the prominent female architects of her time. She designed six buildings in the Grand Canyon: Hopi House (1905), Lookout Studio (1914), Hermit’s Rest (1914), Phantom Ranch (1922), Desert View Watchtower (1932), and Bright Angel Lodge (1935). The El Tovar Hotel was not designed by her, but it was decorated by her. Her designs combined Mission Revival, Pueblo Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, and American Craftsman. She helped to pioneer what has become the traditional look and feel of many National Park buildings and the overall atmosphere.

President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924)

On February 26, 1919, President Wilson established Grand Canyon, National Park. This took place three years after the creation of the Nation Park Service. Grand Canyon National Park was the 15th National Park created. Over 44,000 people visitors came to the park in 1919. Since then, more than 200 million people have visited it, and currently, over 5 million people visit it annually. The park has remained open every day for 100 years.

John Muir (1838-1914)

John Muir was often called the Father of our National Park System. He was born in Dunbar, Scotland, and moved with his family to the United States when he was 11 years old. He was an author, conservationist, and naturalist who helped to preserve America’s natural treasures. Muir co-founded The Sierra Club. He lived to the age of 76 and wrote 12 books and 300 magazine articles, covering much of the natural are of the Western United States. He was influential with local and national leaders to buy non-generic ambien preserve and maintain the beauty of the world around us. Muir was a writer, a lecturer, schoolteacher, geologist, botanist, geographer, explorer, inventor, and rancher.

Gunnar Widforss (1879-1934)

Born in Stockholm Widforss studied art in Sweden and Russia. He traveled for several years around the Alps and the Mediterranean, as well as the East Coast of the United States. In 1921 he arrived in California and started his time in the Western States. In 1923 he first visited Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce Canyon National Parks. In the 1930’s he created large watercolors of the Grand Canyon. He lived for a time at the South Rim at the home of Emery and Ellsworth Kolb, operators of the Kolb Studio. Widforss later lived in a dormitory of the Fred Harvey Company, operating at the South Rim. His paintings were sold in the art gallery of the famous El Tovar Hotel, at the rim of the Grand Canyon.

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