Backcountry History in the Grand Canyon!


Who lost an index finger in an accident and later told visitors he wore it off pointing out sights as the Grand Canyons first tour guide?


Backcountry History will look at  those early explorers of The Grand Canyon, both before it was a National Park with John Wesley Powell, and in the early days of The National Park with Emery and Ellsworth Kolb, Glen Sturdevant; then later with Harvey Butchart and others. Remember, during this time no trails as we know them today existed. Specialized equipment, dehydrated food, topographic maps, Web pages, GPS's, cellphones, and guide books did not exist! 



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Did you ever wonder how the Mystic Spring or Separation Canyon got their name? Or Cranberry Canyon?  How about Bright Angel Creek? Please take a look at:
Grand Canyon Place Names!

Dr. Harvey Butchart

Author of three ground breaking, complete, and useful treking guides. Grand Canyon Treks 12,000 Miles through the Grand Canyon, the original three volumes are now together in one great book with photos! Still the definitive guide!


The source of Tapeats Creek...Tapeats Cave. Photo by Dr. Harvey Butchart
View of Tapeats Spring from the Air, Photo by Harvey Butchart
harvey.jpg (8597 bytes)
Harvey Butchart photo by Jorgen Visbek
Dr. Butchart is renowned as the most knowledgeable explorer of the Inner Grand Canyon. He has hiked and researched the Grand Canyon area since 1945. Harvey  has found 116 approaches to the Colorado River from the Rim, climbed 83 summits, and found routes through the Redwall in 164 places. Author of three treking guides, he is the source of inspiration for many backcountry travelers. Wherever you go, or whatever you do, Harvey did it first!

Interview with Dr. Butchart
Wontans Throne Climb
Off Shoshone Point
Tanner Wash to Hot Na Na
Escape Routes from the Colorado River
Water Sources in Grand Canyon
Natural Bridges, Windows, and Tunnels of Grand Canyon
Finding Mystic Spring
Cline Library John Harvey Butchart Collection

J. Harvey Butchart Scholarship for Mathematical Achievement

F.E. Matthes in 1902 started surveying The Grand Canyon for the U. S. Geological Survey. This created the first topographic maps of The Grand Canyon. He finished the Vishnu, Bright Angel and Shinumo Quads in 1905. Matthes also mapped Yosemite Valley and Mount Rainier! He worked as a mapper for the U.S. Geological Survey for 51 years.
Breaking a Trail in Bright Angel Canyon

The True location of this photo is unknown!
Do you recognize this view? Is it Soap Creek in Marble Canyon on the Colorado River? From the Wheeler Survey. The National Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institution. 

The Human Drama of the Past! Early Discovery and Inhabitants!

Grand Canyon Pioneer Society Glen Sturdevant was born in Laceyville, Pennsylvania, on March 25, 1895. He attended the University of California and graduated from the University of Arizona. On May 16, 1925 to was appointed Park Naturalist for the National Park Service in Grand Canyon National Park. 
A Reconnaissance of NE Part of Grand Canyon
A Visit to an Un-frequented Part of the Grand Canyon
Inspecting a Possible Trout Stream of Grand Canyon
Our Sorrow, The Untimely Death of Two Rangers
Grand Canyon Trust
John Wesley Powell is most famous for his two river trips down the Green and Colorado Rivers in 1869 and 1871-72 which took him through The Grand Canyon. A one-armed veteran of the Civil War, Powell ran the wild, raging, Colorado River through the Grand Canyon with nine men in three small boats. It was he who named the great gorge and many of its side canyons and formations. A scientist first, he took time to explore the backcountry. He and his party climbed the Echo Peaks and a route out of the Little Colorado River Gorge. They also explored the House Rock Valley and the Kaibab Plateau. 
John Wesley Powell Museum
John Wesley Powell Photo Index
The Career of John Wesley Powell
J.W. Powell's trip to Mount Trumbell!

"We have an unknown distance yet to run, an unknown river to explore,  What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not; what walls rise over the river, we know not."

What's it like to be on the River?

Julius F. Stone 1909 A Colorado River Trip Diary through the Grand Canyon!
Georgie White Early commercial river runner

"Wreck below Bass Trail"
Emery sticking out hole in boat, with Ellsworth.  December 25, 1911 Photograph courtesy of The Kolb Collection, GCNP
Kolb Brothers and Boats
Do you have any comments,
additions, or corrections?
The Kolb Brothers  Emery and Ellsworth were noted photographers at the South Rim of The Grand Canyon. They were legendary for taking pictures of mule riders, then running down to Indian Gardens to develop the prints and hurrying back to the rim before the arrival of the dudes! They also made the first motion picture of a river trip! 
The Discovery of Cheyava Falls!!
Cline Library Emery Kolb Collection

A Short visit With Emery Kolb!
Why did they do it?
The Kolb Brother's Photos

Edwin D. McKee The Geology of Grand Canyon 1931!
Ranger Dan E. Davis Supervisory Park Ranger
The Salt Trail

Ranger Ken Patrick 1963 Relics found near Mount Hayden
Kittridge Wing The first running of the Little Colorado River!
Bluewater Voyage in the Little Colorado River
George Warton James 1910
Dripping Springs and the BoucherTrail
The Mystic Springs Trail
Mapping the Grand Canyon                                     

Early European Maps | Old Southwest | Post-Civil War Maps | The Territory History | Maps Produced Before 1920 | U.S. Government Maps | Grand Canyon Bibliography

The Grand Canyon Bridge
Exploration of Roaring Springs Cave 1934

poolphm.jpg (20456 bytes)
Relaxing by the pool at Phantom Ranch! Do you remember it?

Phamous Phantom Ranch Stew Jimmy Lee digs out and dusts off the original recipe from the early 70's when most of us were not even born!

Mary Craig Interview


Return to The Top

Historical Photographs

Cline Library Grand Canyon Pioneer's Society Inc. Collections

More Historical Photographs

The Kolb Brother's Photos

New!! Tall Tales and Fiction!
What crazy stories did they dream up? Can this be proven true?
Explorations in Grand Canyon-1909
Grand Canyon Outlaw

The Orphan Mine
Is the radiation dangerous?

Interesting Discoveries from the 20th Century:

Charlie Spencer and his Steamboat-1911

Traffic Rules for the Rim and Trail-1914
To the Colorado River in a Metz 22-1914
Marble Canyon Damsite-1951
Natural Bridge Discovery-1955
Kanab Canyon Trip Report-1964
Bill Beer dies in Plane crash! 2000


As much as we love the web, the serious lover of the Grand Canyon needs lots of books to read and study. Below are a few that I have read, own, and recommend!

Field Guides, Hiking Guides, History, and Geology Books


Special thanks to Mike Quinn and the Grand Canyon Museum Collection!!

The activities described in this web site are potentially dangerous. Canyoneering, rock climbing, and mountaineering involve unavoidable risks including the risk of serious bodily injury and death. All forms of wilderness recreation have a higher level of risk than most ordinary activities. The owner and publisher of this web site do not assume any responsibility or liability for your safety. Those who use this information, and those who venture onto mountainous terrain, do so at their own risk. Disclaimer

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All contents of all pages Copyright   1997- 2008  by Mike Mahanay. All Rights Reserved

Much of Treks is a compilation of various contributors!
Do you have any off trail stories, hikes, or descriptions you would like to add?

Do you have any questions, comments, or corrections?

If so, drop me a  email at mikem@(rem0vethis)
(just delete the "(rem0vethis)" from the email address)