The Grand Canyon is one of the first places where tourist and vacation photos were taken. Without cellphones, other people had to take pictures of the tourists who came to visit. To say that this became a big money-making venture is an understatement. Furthermore, one pair of brothers saw it fit to capitalize on the opportunity. The Kolb Brothers were some of the first people to start the photo business here. They would take photos of tourists as they took rides on mules down the canyon and would then sell these photos to them before they left the park.
The brothers also filmed their own navigation of the Colorado and Green Rivers, which was shown within the National Park for decades until Emery Kolb died in 1976. Many of their documentations and films are shown in other documentaries. Authors discuss them in books such as “The Brave Ones,” a book containing the brothers’ letters and journals.
Because the Kolb Brothers gained much notoriety and money from their photos, they remained in the area. They even started their own photo business and remained in the Grand Canyon Village to this day. They have a studio there where they worked on various projects. It may have seemed extreme at the time, especially the breathtaking subject matter. However, over time, it only makes sense that someone should invest in the photography of the majestic Grand Canyon.
The brothers’ photographs are still shared to this day. They are even used in other media forms when the Grand Canyon is the primary topic of conversation. Because of their avid interests, other photographers and filmmakers got into the business of documenting the Grand Canyon as well, such as Bill Belknap and George Clark.
Scientists have said that the Grand Canyon contains about 40% of the planet’s history. Examination and studying of the rock formation have revealed that rocks are dating back as far as 1.75 billion years ago, almost half of the planet’s age. Understanding the language of these rocks will tell us just what was taking place on Earth at that time and would help uncover a lot of the history that was taking place then.
There aren’t very many places on Earth that can boast this kind of geological history that’s easy to see with one’s own eyes. Although it would take a skilled hand and expert eye to decipher the different parts of the Grand Canyon, it’s easy for anyone to see how deeply historical its features are. Keep reading to discover more amazing facts about the Grandy Canyon.
Before technology, if you wanted to get a view of the canyon from above, you’d have to rent a helicopter for a costly ride. Now, technology has made that more accessible and a little cheaper for tourists. The Skywalk is a horseshoe-shaped steel frame with a see-through glass floor, suspended 70 feet above the ground. The Hualapai Tribe maintains it since the Skywalk resides on their lands. Since it’s construction, it has become one of the most famous attractions of the Grand Canyon.
The Skywalk Bridge cost $30 million to construct since it took 100 million pounds of steel to erect. It was a partnership between the Hualapai Tribe and David Jin, a Chinese-American businessman. The Skywalk aimed to give visitors the perspective of being an eagle soaring effortlessly over the Grand Canyon and seeing all of the wonders that it held. It is a marvel of form and function existing with nature.
Because there are many caverns in the Grand Canyon, it is home to many bats. Moreover, because bats eat such a rich diet of insects, their guano is prized as being an excellent fertilizer for plants. So much that in the late 1950s, miners tried to extract it. In fact, they tried to get at least 1,000 tons of bat guano out of a single cave. They wanted to sell it to farmers and gardeners. It probably would have made them much money if they’d been successful.
Unfortunately, the venture failed. There are remnants of the mine remaining in Grand Canyon West, including the terminus of a tram. No one has tried to monopolize the guano business since, but that’s probably for the best. That could have resulted in more devastation of the Grand Canyon’s natural habitat.
It’s not unheard of for people to sprinkle the ashes of a loved one in an important place that can be visited in the future. The Grand Canyon is no different; it allows people to spread ashes as long as specific rules are observed. Human ashes can be scattered within the National Park as long as it is away from any roads, campgrounds, or buildings. That means that you’re going to have to go off-road to spread the ashes of your loved one.
Another rule is that the ashes cannot have any teeth, bone fragments, or recognizable remnants within them. That is likely to minimize tourists and hikers finding the remains and notifying the authorities. Visitors cannot place markers where ashes have been sprinkled to keep the Grand Canyon as pristine as possible.
The Grand Canyon has its own Grand Canyon Pioneer Cemetery. However, only an elite few are allowed to be buried there, so there’s no point in trying to buy out a lot or wait for a burial reservation. The rules state a person must have worked in the park for at least three years to be buried there. Also, they must have made a significant contribution to the appreciation or understanding of the canyon itself.
Some of the people buried there are pioneers, administrators of the national park, and the Grand Canyon Village residents. John Hance, believed to be the first non-Native American resident of the Grand Canyon, was the first person buried there. The unidentified victims of the 1856 plane crash are also buried there. The cemetery is closed to new burials, but it is still open to visitors.
Because people live in the park, it is the only national park in the country with its K-12 school district. It is now known as the Grand Canyon Unified District. The first elementary school was established in 1911. A loan provided the building, which was located south of the Bright Angel Trail’s present head. The country circuit judge back then even acted as a superintendent for some time.
A few years later, lumber and labor were provided to build another school building that included a classroom and quarters for the teacher. The following year, the school opened with a total of twenty-nine students. A third building was added, using county funds, in 1916, and the location of the building was determined by the proximity to water and sewer lines. Today, the school district now serves up to 300 students every year.
Near the North Rim, there is a small guardhouse that is kept unlocked during the winter. That is because the park doesn’t close during the winter, allowing visitors and hikers to traverse the trails if they so wish. The guardhouse is stocked with food and water for those who need emergency shelter. That’s very thoughtful of the people who work within the park.
Otherwise, there is a skeleton crew living at the North Rim during the winter months. When the snow falls, the residents move their cars down to Jacob Lake. However, then how do they get around when they need to? The answer is snowmobiles. They can go pretty fast through the snow, allowing the park workers to get to where they need to go.
You wouldn’t think that a gorge would be prone to lightning strikes, but don’t forget that the canyon is above sea-level. In a given year, the Grand Canyon can have as many as 25,000 lightning strikes within it. Visitors and tourists are presented with warnings throughout the year. Those who choose to see the canyon for themselves need to follow them. Some include checking the weather forecasts before hiking.
It’s a good idea to know where the emergency phones are along the trails. Take note of where the closest buildings and vehicles are for people to seek shelter. If your hair suddenly stands on end, then there is a lightning strike coming. One should avoid open areas immediately and seek shelter away from lone trees, poles, railings, and bodies of water. If there is no shelter close by, look for lower ground that is not near water. Go into a crouched position in an open area. Have the feet of your heels touching and your hands over your ears with your head down.
You Have to Get a Permit to Float on the Colorado River
Many people think that because it’s in a national park, they can go to the river whenever they want and bring a floating ring. Nevertheless, that is not the case. One option is to reserve a commercial rafting trip, but you have to wait at least a month or so for an opening. People usually take this as an incentive to skip the wait, but they could end up with very hefty fines.
Private rafting permits are the second option, and they are not easy to obtain either. They are issued based on a weighted lottery. Some people may wait as long as five years before they can even get a permit. That is because the park authorities only allow about 503 launches onto the Colorado River every year. That sounds like a lot, but when you consider the number of people who visit the park every year, that is a small handful of people.
Although the canyon can be quite beautiful and tempting, it shouldn’t be an invitation for anyone and everyone to consider hiking it. Only the fittest and experienced people should attempt it, and even then, they could end up being in big trouble. The park nationals’ most significant problem is that hikers never bring enough water on their hiking trip. Most people aren’t aware of the 20-degree temperature difference between the top of the canyon and the bottom.
In fact, as many as 250 people have to be rescued within the canyon every year, either because they didn’t bring enough water or they wore the wrong footgear to hike in. It takes much effort to get back up to the top, almost twice as much as going down, so it shouldn’t be attempted by those who aren’t fit for strenuous exercises.
One would think that government itself wouldn’t get basic facts wrong. Think again. In 1999, stamps were released bearing the image of the Grand Canyon. So what was the huge problem? Why did they have to be destroyed? It turns out that the 100 million stamps said that the Grand Canyon was in Colorado instead of Arizona, where it is located.
Thankfully, they were reprinted, but not without another hiccup. The image used on the stamp has been flipped, meaning that it was a mirror image of the canyon’s realistic view. However, there was no plan to recall or destroy these stamps, so they went out into circulation. To think if they had just faxed the stamp’s image to the photographer who took the picture, he could have corrected the problem.