26 Feb: Woodrow Wilson and the Grand Canyon

President Woodrow Wilson finally signed into law a bill establishing The Grand Canyon as the USA’s 15th National Park on this day in 1919.

Although preservation orders had given the Canyon some protection prior to this moment, it had been 37 years since Benjamin Harrison had first attempted to enshrine its special status more specifically. The first white American known to traverse the Colorado River, Joseph C Ives, had proclaimed the Canyon to be ‘valueless’.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly ponder whether full protection would ever have arrived, were it not for the assassination of President McKinley; explain what tourism to the Canyon entailed in the days before the Railroad; and explain why, since 1979, officially sanctioned souvenir rocks have had greater appeal to visitors… 

Further Reading:

• ‘The Grand Canyon turns 100: rare photos of life and adventure’ (The Guardian, 2019): https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2019/feb/26/the-grand-canyon-turns-100-rare-photos-of-life-and-adventure

• ‘The Grand Canyon – By Byron Augustin, Jake Kubena’ (Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2010):


• ‘How Was the Grand Canyon Formed?’ (Smithsonian Channel, 2016): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6IBg4Srb6E

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