Wednesday 11 January 2012

The Eighth Wonder of the World

The first Native settlement was organized there 4000 years ago.  The first Europeans to explore the area arrived over 500 years ago.  The first pioneers to settle the area came almost 150 years ago.  By 1900, the place was a tourist attraction.  Now it is considered the Eighth Wonder of the World. 

The Grand Canyon was carved into the rock in Arizona by the erosion of the Colorado River and the shifting of the Colorado plateau.  It's length is 227 miles, its width is 4 to 18 miles and its depth is over a mile.  Artists popularized the area in the late 1800's by painting scenes like the one done by Willliam H. Holmes.  First tourists arrived by stagecoach to see what all the fuss was about.  Paddlewheelers made their way up the Colorado River carrying tourists as well.  By 1901, they arrived by train after the Grand Canyon and Santa Fe Railroads were built.  Oliver Lippincott drove the first automobile to the site (from Flagstaff) thinking that it would take him several hours but the trip lasted two whole days.  By the 1930's, the car became the preferred mode of transportation. 

In 1919, the Grand Canyon was declared a U.S. National Park and received a total of 44,173 visitors that year.  Theodore Roosevelt, a conservationist, was a vocal proponent of the park.    The park boasts many wild animals like coyotes, bald eagles, ewes, bobcats, mountain lions and rattlesnakes.  Tourists can view the wildlife through hiking, mule rides and helicopter tours.  By the mid-1930's Hoover Dam was completed, attracting even more tourists to the area.  Current annual visitation is 5 million visitors per year. 

Painting by William H. Holmes courtesy

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