Friday, October 23, 2009

Another map; reflections on how I got started

The base map for this was put together by John McComb (then SW Rep for the Sierra Club) in the early 1970's when we were working up proposals for enlarging the National Park, and only beginning to discover the history. It came from combining large-scale (I think 1:250,0000) regional maps. This copy of the base map is very poor, but it shows the 1886 56x69-mile Powell Harrison boundary.

This entry reminds me of how little we friends of the Grand Canyon knew about the century-long history before we came along in the 1960's. We did not, after all, come to Grand Canyon issues as scholars, but as activists who had cut our advocacy and lobbying teeth in 1963-8 fighting to prevent the authorization of  two dams, called Marble and Bridge/Hualapai. They would have been built in the Grand Canyon as generators of high-cost electricity to help pay, ultimately, for importation of water from the Columbia River to southern California. I thought of a "complete" Grand Canyon National Park as presenting an alternative, and better, future for the Canyon. The concept underlying our proposal was not based on what we knew of previous attempts to enlarge the Park, but on the idea that all of the Canyon deserved to be protected, presented and preserved as an entity. So we were quite excited as we came across references to proposals going all the way back to the 1880's. And that excitement carried me across the country for a few years of archive research-- though not through the task of putting it into  book in the 1980's. Perhaps it is not too late.

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