Emery on his way to the Colorado River!
| The Kolb Brothers!
A short visit with Emery Kolb!
Emery Kolb first came to the Grand Canyon in l902 and, along with his brother Ellsworth, established a photographic studio which he continued to operate until his death in 1976. Throughout those years, the Kolb Brothers explored the Grand Canyon extensively.
By Roy Starbeck Copywrite 2001 by Roy Starbeck, All Rights Reserved
Back in the summer of 1975, a friend (Warren) and I hopped in his MG and
headed for Arizona to take the round trip mule ride to the bottom of the
Grand Canyon and back. The trip was a success. I had a great time. But the
real highlight of the trip was when Warren asked me if I wouldn't mind going
with him to say hi to an old friend of his whom he'd worked for 10 years
earlier, right there in the park. I said "sure" and we headed to the home
of Emery Kolb. Emery's home was in the Grand Canyon Park and as we
approached the house I could see that this was going to be an interesting
The door was answered by a maid who said that Emery was bedridden and not
doing well and probably shouldn't have any visitors (he was 95 years old
then), but when she announced my friend to Emery, we were invited in for a
While being led to Emery's bedroom through his home I felt as though I was
in a museum. I was trying to take it all in and still keep up with the maid.
When we arrived at the bedroom, there lay an old man with a blanket pulled
up to his chin. When he recognized Warren (his eyesight was failing him) he
smiled and greeted him and I was quickly introduced. We were encouraged to
talk rather loudly as Emery's hearing wasn't what it used to be either.
Emery apologized for his condition and talked a bit about his failing
health. I was thinking to myself how sad it is when you see someone who may
be near the end of their life, however good it may have been.
Soon the conversation turned to the Grand Canyon and it wasn't long until
Emery was telling us a story about one of his many adventures with his
brother Ellsworth. I forget the exact year that it was, but it had to be in
the very early twenties, Emery and his brother got word that a government
sponsored expedition was to take place in the canyon. Somewhere there was a
high large mesa where it was believed that there was no access to man or
animals. The people in the expedition made no secret about the future trip
and the media ran some good stories about what forms of animal life might
they find that may have evolved isolated from the rest of the area.
Emory and Ellsworth decided among themselves that they would get to the top
of that mesa before the others, and not let anybody know until it was over.
So, sure enough they did, and the only thing Emery and Ellsworth found up
there were two sets of antelope skulls and horns that were locked together
from a fight to the death by the two animals.
When the government sponsored expedition team returned they too reported
seeing the antelope remains on the mesa, but they also reported finding an
empty pack of Kodak film nearby as well, which left them quite baffled and
embarrassed.Emery loved that story.
By the time he was finished with that anecdote he was completely energized
and literally threw his covers off and sprung out of bed, slid his slippers
on and led us into his den. Which overlooked the canyon with probably the
best view a home could have anywhere on the planet.
He removed a book from the shelf that had a title to do with the Colorado
River and opened it to a chapter titled "The Amazing Kolb Brothers". He
asked me if I would read it out loud as he wasn't able to read as much
anymore with his failing eyesight. Of course I was honored with the request
and I began reading at the top of my voice (at his request) about the
particular adventures that were written about them. What was particularly
interesting was Emery's uncanny memory. When I would read off a date, such
as August 12,1917, he would laugh and say that it really happened that way,
but it was on the17th not the 12th. After he did that several times I
mentioned that his memory was a bit better than mine and he told me that he
had learned a memory technique years ago and he proudly recited every thing
from the "Constitution" to the Gettysburg address to the forward on a book
that he wrote. It was truly impressive.
I finally finished the chapter and we visited for a good hour. Emery talked
about the August 1914 National Geographic that he and Ellsworth
co-authored. (Of which I was fortunate to get a copy of later) and mountain
lion hunting trips that he guided for Teddy Roosevelt.
I really didn't want to leave but the maid was giving us the evil eye, so we
knew it was time to tear ourselves away from this great guy. So we left and
Emory went back to bed. He died the next year.
I'll never forget that visit with Emery. It was very inspiring. You don't
meet people like him very often in life.
Roy Starbeck ROYSRUS@PROAXIS.COM
The Discovery of Cheveya Falls! The Kolb Brother's Fantastic Photos!
More of the Kolb Brother's Photos
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
Much of Treks is a
compilation of various contributors!
If so, drop me a email at