Looking Over the Rim: “Here’s to the Fools Who Dream!”


We recently took a big road trip over the twins’ Spring Break. First, we made our way southwest through Ouray Colorado, a gorgeous boutique of a mountain town known as The Switzerland of America. Here we found sulfur-free hot springs and fantastic mountain views. The oldest operating power generator in the US fuels much of the area. Definitely worth the 5 1/2 hour drive from Denver.
Next, we continued on to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The only words I have ever found to describe my experiences upon seeing this geographical wonder, each and every time, is awe-inspiring. We spent the first day of our visit walking along the rim, reading about the formation of the canyon and the men and women who dedicated their lives to studying and preserving the area.
Most remarkably to me, as a student of history, are the works of a woman named Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter. Ms. Colter was one of the predominant architects of the area. She designed buildings and interiors for the Fred Havey Company for 38 years, a near impossible feat for a woman during the early 1900’s. The Hopi House, Hermit’s Rest and the Bright Angel Lodge are just a few of her many accomplishments on the South Rim. She took care that her structures resembled Pueblo style architecture, using local rocks and indigenous trees for building materials. Local Indians were invited to display and sell their wares in the gift shops along the rim.
Additionally, two pioneering brothers, Emery and Ellsworth Kolb, built their photography studio on the edge of the canyon rim at the head of the Bright Angel Trail, originally a mining claim owned by Ralph Cameron. Besides making a successful business out of photographing tourists as they began their descent into the canyon, the brothers explored and photographed some of the earliest images we have of the inner recesses of the canyon. They created a groundbreaking motion picture of their tour in 1911-1912 as they traveled down the Colorado River within the Grand Canyon. The movie was shown daily until 1976 in the Kolb Studio to a packed auditorium. The five-story cottage is now a landmark and museum owned by the National Parks Service.
Without these ambitious, adventuresome artists, much of the early history of one of our nation’s most valued wonders would have been lost. Again, artists telling and preserving the stories of time through their works. A fact deeply gratifying to me! –Kathy

Leave a Reply