Grand Canyon History

Below are some some items pertaining to the history of the Grand Canyon and the exploits of some of the early river runners.

In 1923, the USGS sent an expedition under the leadership of Colonel Claude Birdseye to survey possible dam sites in the Grand Canyon. In addition to other valuable information collected, they took hundreds of photographs. In 1991 another group, sponsored by the Kansas Geological Survey, rephotographed many sites from the exact vantage point of the earlier photos, and published 45 pairs of photos, the old next to the new, in the book "The Canyon Revisited: A Rephotogoraphy of the Grand Canyon," by Donald Baars. We recreated one of the photos on our trip in 2000. Click below the to see the three photos together.

The Hollows Photographs

Grand Canyon Bibliography
A list of books aboout the Grand Canyon

Outlines from books on Grand Canyon History:

Down the Colorado, John Wesley Powell
The Great Unknown, The Journals of the Historic First Expedition Down the Colorado River, John Cooly, 1998
The Colorado River Survey, Robert Brewster Stanton and the Denver, Colorado, and Pacific Railroad, 1987
Standing Up Country, the Canyon Lands of Utah and Arizona, C. Gregory Crampton, 1964
River Runners of the Grand Canyon, David Lavender, 1985
How the Canyon Became Grand, Stephen Pyne, 1999

More History Items:
John Wesley Powell's Report to Congress (pdf format)

Geologic History:

Some beautiful paleogeographic maps (how the continents looked in the remote past) are to be found on Dr. Ron Blakey's website (Northern Arizona University). There are maps showing all of North America, and another set showing just the American Southwest, among many otjers on his website. The Southwest is especially interesting as far as the Grand Canyon is concerned, because it shows the different conditions under which the rock layers formed (inland seas, which formed limestone; near-shore, which formed shale; sand dunes and beaches, which formed sandstone, etc.). I put these images into Powerpoint shows, and with slides transition set to Fade Slow, the effect is quite animation-like. I also made the maps into Quicktime movies. With Dr. Blakey's permission, they are available here.


Questions, comments, corrections: please email
Steve Perrin