Grand Canyon History

(From The Colorado River Survey, Robert Brewster Stanton & The Denver, Colorado, and Pacific Railroad, Ed. Dwight L. Smith and Gregory Crampton, 1987)

The group left Green River, UT on May 25, 1889. President of RR Frank Brown and 16 men. They had four thin, red cedar hunting and pleasure boats, and an ordinary flat-bottomed skiff. It was planned to replenish provisions at Lee’s Ferry. They were plagued with disaster from the beginning. Most of the cooking utensils and some of the supplies were lost when the cook boat was jammed between two rocks. Other accidents resulted in the loss of nearly all the provisions, and two of the boats were destroyed, and the others badly damaged. They finally reached Dandy Crossing at Hite, UT, just below the Dirty Devil River near the head of Glen Canyon on 6/24. One party under W.H.Bush continued the survey. Brown and Stanton were to make a rapid "eye survey" of the River to Lee’s Ferry, and then to the mouth of the Colorado. They left Lee’s Ferry on July 9. Brown drowned the next day, at the mouth of Salt Water wash, Mile 12. On a ledge a rock is inscribed by Peter Hansbrough, who drowned with one other man on July 15.

They camp at the mouth of South, or Paradise Canyon, M 31.5. Vasey’s Paradise is a short distance downstream. River bends sharply to east just below S. Canyon. The wall on inside of bend is named Point Retreat. Party caches surplus supplies in a cave above river, and leaves the river through South Canyon, and travels to Kanab, UT.

No one wore life jackets!!

"Marble" Canyon is actually Redwall limestone, which first appears at M 22.6.

Stanton Cave: evidence of man 4,000 years ago.

There was much publicity in the press after this incident. John Wesley Powell calls the railroad scheme "impracticable." Clarence Dutton also called it highly impractical. Stanton offered a defense to Powell in Engineering News & American Railroad Journal, 9/21/1889.

After Brown’s death, Stanton becomes a prime mover in DCC&PRR operations. He obtained new boats and 12 men (four of the veterans), and traveled overland from railhead at Green River to head of Glen Canyon. This time, three sturdy boats of oak with spacious watertight compartments had been specially constructed for the trip. They also used rubber bags, and floatable kegs for such items as rice and coffee, and they used life preservers. During the river trip to Lee’s Ferry, equipment was tested, and gold claims staked. On 12/13, below Good Hope Bar, beyond Battery Point, a man hailed them from the bank. It was Jack Sumner, one of Powell’s original 1869 crew members. When read Powell’s account of Separation rapid, Sumner said with an air of resentment and disgust, "There’s lots in that book besides the truth."

The party has Christmas dinner at Lee’s Ferry, 1889. Leave Lee’s Ferry on 12/28.

1/1/1890: Photographer Franklin Nims is injured when he falls off a cliff (22ft.) while trying to take a photograph (below Sheer Wall Rapid, M15). Stanton walks 35 miles back to Lee’s Ferry to bring back help (what if they had been farther into the Canyon!?). Nims is laboriously carried up over the rim of Rider Canyon, v. elevation 1,500 ft., distance 4 miles.

1/6: Start out again. Misty snow in canyon, snowing hard on top.

1/16: The skeleton of Peter Hansbrough is discovered near camp. Stanton neglects to mention this in his journal that day, being caught up in his plans for the RR grade. He notes burial on 1/17.

From Point Hansbrough, the course of the river is southwest, letting the sun’s rays penetrate the canyon. This stretch to Nankoweap Rapid is called "extravagantly beautiful" by Dwight Smith. Stanton used the word beautiful here more times in one day than in all preceding days combined.

Nankoweap Creek drops 6,000 ft. in 7 miles. Many Anasazi ruins, probably granaries, are visible from river. The Anasazi lived here for 100 years from 1050-1150.

The Little Colorado is the major tributary draining much of NE Arizona, and parts of Mew Mexico. Flow is very low, except after storms (M61.5)

4/30/90 The party ends the trip at Yuma, Arizona. (see attachment)

Crystal Rapid was transformed from a mild rapid to one rated tops in difficulty in December, 1966, when an enormous flash flood roared down Crystal creek, and deposited tons of debris in the Colorado.

"Just above the mouth of Shimano Creek (M108.6) Stanton found a place suitable for a depot and switching yard, which he named for Clarence E. Dutton of the Powell Survey. In Denver, in 1889 the two men had discussed the railroad project and Dutton had asked, "what will you do for side-track room and depot grounds along the walls of the Grand Canyon?" A mile-long bench or terrace, centering at a point about opposite the mouth of Bass Canyon and at the head of Bass Rapid seemed to be such a place, whereupon the engineer named it after the geologist, "Dutton’s Depot Grounds." Had the railroad been built, Dutton’s Depot might well have become a busy place. Already by 1890, William Wallace Bass had established a tourist camp on the South Rim near Havasupai Point. Not long after Stanton came along with the survey, Bass opened a trans-canyon tourist trail which crossed the river at Bass Rapid and passed right through Dutton’s Depot Grounds." One can picture the arrival of the trains, the dudes alighting from the steam train to take the mule train to either South Rim or the North Rim!"

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