Dear Valued Client,
The United States celebrates a very special birthday this month. No, I’m not referring to George
Washington’s or Abraham Lincoln’s, important as those are.
I’m referring to the 100-year anniversary of the Grand Canyon being named a national park.
“The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself. The resources of art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must fail.” – John Wesley Powell1
Approximately six million people visit the Grand Canyon every year, each on a veritable pilgrimage to witness its splendor. Whether you’ve been there in person or only seen it through photographs, you’ve probably felt the same awe that people have felt for literally thousands of years. After all, the canyon is over 250 miles long, and stretches 18 miles across at its widest point, and the park itself is larger than the state of Rhode Island! 6,000 feet deep, the canyon’s rock ranges from 230 million to 2 billion years old and has been home to Native Americans for over two millennia.2
Almost as amazing as these statistics is that we have the national park at all. The first European to see the Grand Canyon was a Spanish conquistador, Garcia Lopez de Cardenas, in 1540. A few of his men tried to descend into the canyon, but found it so difficult, they were forced to turn
back. The men reported the canyon to be so immense that some of the rocks were bigger than the greatest towers in Spain.
Despite this, it would be over two hundred years before Europeans found the canyon again. From there, explorers, missionaries, trappers, and miners all slowly began to discover and map the rims of the Grand Canyon, until John Wesley Powell led the first official expedition to the canyon floor in 1869. Prior to Powell’s visit, the place had been known informally only as “The Big Canyon”. But Powell was so astounded by what he saw, he named the canyon Grand, and that is how it has been known ever since.
“The glories and beauties of form, color, and sound unite in the Grand Canyon – forms unrivaled even by the mountains, colors that vie with sunsets, and sounds that span from tempest to tinkling raindrop, from cataract to bubbling fountain.” – John Wesley Powell1
President Teddy Roosevelt visited in 1903 and was equally impressed. As he did with many sites of unparalleled natural beauty, he fought hard to protect the canyon from mining and development, naming it a national monument in 1908. People who sought to profit from the land tried to block this protection, but finally, on February 26, 1919, the canyon was finally
established as a national park by President Woodrow Wilson.
Since then, the canyon’s history has been captured in photos and memories from millions of family road trips, vacations, and yes, pilgrimages.
That’s why the most amazing thing about the Grand Canyon is that it belongs to me – and to you, and to all of us. We are truly fortunate to have such a marvel in our country. A marvel that took millions of years to make. A marvel we’re all free to call our own.
That’s why I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing a very
Happy Birthday to Grand Canyon National Park!
David M. Gallagher
1 “The Words of John Wesley Powell,” January 22, 2016. http://escapingthemidwest.com/the-words-of-john-wesley-powell/
2 “Grand Canyon Facts,” http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/earth/grandcanyon.html
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