Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Superstition Mountain Historical Society

February 28, 2012

The Superstition Mountain Museum displays the artifacts, history and folklore of the Superstition Mountains, Apache Junction and the surrounding region. Archaeological evidence indicates that prehistoric people lived in the area some 9000 years ago. Later the Salado, Hohokam and Apache Indians came, followed by Spanish explorers and Mexican gold miners. Trappers migrated to the area and were followed by cattlemen and farmers.  In modern times, people have searched for Jacob Waltz’s Lost Dutchman Gold Mine. However, the “Dutchman,” took the secret of his mine’s location to his grave.

The twelve-acre Superstition Mountain Museum site offers exhibits and reproductions of 19th Century businesses including a Wells Fargo office, a stagecoach stop, a barber shop and an assay office in addition to the Lost Dutchman Mine exhibits. Whether or not the mine exists is up for debate but Jacob Waltz who started the story was a real person. Waltz, born in Germany around 1810, emigrated to America around 1839. From New York City he traveled to the goldfields of North Carolina and Georgia. He filed his Letter of Intent to become a citizen of the United States on November 12, 1848, in Natchez, Mississippi. Two years later he arrived in California where he prospected for several years.

In 1863, Waltz headed for the Bradshaw Mountains in the Arizona Territory. In 1868, he declared Possessory Rights on 160 acres of land along the bank of the Salt River. Waltz died in Phoenix on October 25, 1891, at the home of Julia Thomas. Shortly after his death Thomas and the Petrasch brothers, Rhinehart and Hermann, searched the Superstition Mountains to find Waltz’s rich gold mine but found nothing. Barry Storm’s Thunder God’s Gold, published in 1945 probably raised more hope in the hearts of prospectors. Storm suggested that Waltz’s mine was a Lost Peralta Mine. Over the years, many people claim to have found the Dutchman’s Lost Mine but none produced any gold. The United States government closed the Superstition Wilderness Area to mineral entry at midnight on December 31, 1983, to comply with the National Wilderness Act. The museum has copies of maps including the famous stone maps, which purport to show where one may find the gold.

In the late 1800’s, the Cavalry played an important part in Arizona military history. The uniforms, saddles and flags on display have appeared in two Presidential Inaugurations and stood Honor Guard in the capitol rotunda. There is an outdorr amphitheater made of rock slabs taken from the facing of the original Roosevelt Dam. Don’t miss the Hacksaw Tom road agent exhibit for a really scary story.

The Elvis Memorial Chapel is a movie memorabilia museum which shows movies that were filmed at Apacheland. The chapel survived two fires in 1969 and in 2004 which destroyed the Apacheland Movie Ranch. It was donated to the museum. El Charro, which starred Elvis Presley, was filmed at Apacheland. The other major building that was spared in the fires is the “Audie Murphy” so called because it was used in several movies where the famous cowboy hero appeared. In the barn one can see wagons, buggies and stage coaches along with a cowboy bunkhouse.

The 20-stamp ore crusher was donated in 1989 by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Jones of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It took twenty-eight days for five men to disassemble and move the mill to Apache Junction. Adjacent to the stamp mill is the Arizona Territorial Mint Complex where metal collector tokens are made for sale.

The Superstition Mountain Gift Shop features beautiful handcrafted Native American jewelry purchased locally from a select group of artists. Here the tourist can find many Arizona and Southwest books, many of which include the legends and lore of the Superstition Mountain area along with excellent children’s titles

Superstition Mountain Museum 4087 N Apache Trail  Apache Junction, AZ 85219

Tel: 480-983-4888  Web Site: http: www.superstitionmountainmuseum.org

Clarkdale Heritage Center Museum

December 31, 2011

Clarkdale hosts about 100,000 tourists a year. Founded in 1912 by William Clark, Clarkdale is Arizona’s first master planned community and it was one of the most modern mining towns of its time. Clarkdale construction began in 1914 and finished in 1930. The phased construction led to several architectural styles, such as: Mission, English Cottage, Bungalow, Craftsman, Eclectic, Tudor and Spanish Colonial Revival. In 1989, the entire town site of Clarkdale, comprising 386 homes and buildings, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is rural Arizona’s largest Historic District. Over the years Clarkdale has grown and changed but one thing remains constant, its small town sense of community.

Clarkdale, a company mining town, was owned, planned, and developed by William A. Clark of Montana, owner of the Verde Copper Company. Clark made many technological improvements to the mining process and created The Verde Valley Railroad that eventually turned his company into the richest privately owned copper mine in the world

The museum contains an eclectic collection of exhibits which reflect home, school, church and work life in Clarkdale. Don’t miss the oak pulpit originally used in the 1921 Clarkdale United Methodist Church and present site of the Clark Memorial Library. It was given to the museum by the church with the stipulation that if the museum ever dissolves or the congregation needs it back, it will be returned. The manufacturer is unknown. The pulpit is in good condition with nail heads on reading platform and holes on left side from a mounted light or microphone. On back side, two shelves run the whole 46″ width.

The oak pulpit chair has a medium high back and a brass plate that says “By many hands the work of God is done.” It is dated 2/8/1970, and was made by Hiwassee Furniture Mfgr. Inc, makers of fine church furniture in Madisonville, Tennessee. The chair is in excellent condition. .

Clarkdale Heritage Museum, P.O. Box 806, 900 First North,Clarkdale, Arizona 86324

Tel: 928-649-1198, Web site: www.clarkdaleheritage.org/

Yuma Castle Dome Mineral Museum

August 28, 2011

The Castle Dome district is one of the oldest and longest-lived mining districts in Arizona. The origin of the name “Castle Dome” may be a corruption of “Capitol Dome,” a high, dome-like peak nearby which was named by the soldiers at Fort Yuma in the
1880’s. Early Spanish explorers called the same peak Cabeza de Gigante, or Giant’s Head. Jacob Snively after serving as secretary to President of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston began Castle Dome Mines is 1862. The mines were the second to be patented in Arizona. In 1864, Castle Dome City’s population was twelve.  By the 1880s the population of Castle Dome City exceeded that of Yuma. From 1862 – 1979 the mines and the lives of those who worked them thrived.  In 1979 when  silver prices dropped to an all time low the mines were closed.  In this mining town there are more thirty-five buildings from hotels and saloons to a blacksmith shop and general store. The traveler can visit the graveyard, where men, woman and children who lived and died here at Castle Dome. Look down into
the mines that made Castle Dome famous. Several buildings still stand at Castle Dome. And if you get tired there are resting places the paths. The buildings are filled with mining gear, furniture, vintage clothing and glass,  and newspaper clippings. Seven of the buildings are original to the town and the rest are period recreations, many from parts of old original buildings. The three/eighths mile walking tour will take you on the mining district tour. This includes the mill, bunkhouse, cook house, shower house, and the graveyard where rest some of the men and women who worked at Castle Dome and reveal some of the mysteries of Castle Dome. Don’t miss what may be the oldest pair of Levis which the owner dredged up from an
abandoned mine shaft in the historic Castle Dome mining district.

Castle Dome Mining Museum, Milepost 55 on Hwy 95, 27550 East County 15th Street,
Yuma, AZ 85365

Tel: 928-920-306, Web site: www.castledomeminemuseum.com

 

 

Yuma Territorial Prison

July 2, 2011

On July 1, 1876, the first seven inmates entered the Territorial Prison at Yuma and were locked into the new cells which they had built themselves. At Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park the visitor
has a chance to walk through the strap iron cells and solitary chamber of Arizona Territory’s first prison. A total of 3,069 prisoners, including twenty-nine
women, lived within the walls during the prison’s thirty-three years of operation. Twenty-six successfully escaped but only two of these were from within the prison confines and eight prisoners died from gunshot wounds. The youngest prisoner was 14 years old and the oldest was 88. No executions took place at the prison because hangings were a function of the county sheriff’s office.

An exhibit in the Visitor Center along with photographs introduces the visitors to territorial prison life. Other displays include original cellblocks, water tank, guard tower, sally port (entrance gate), library room and the dark cells. Interpretive panels are located throughout the historic site. The 3600 sq. ft. museum houses a video presentation and original prison artifacts. A large mural painting of Arizona Native Americans and by a World War II Italian prisoner of war graces one of the walls.

Despite its infamous reputation, largely put forth by films such as 3:10 to Yuma, the prison was a model institution for its time. Early pioneers such as John Cady referred to the prison as the “country club on the olorado.” Punishments included the dark cells for inmates who broke prison regulations, and the ball and chain for those who tried to escape.

Crimes ranged from murder to polygamy, with grand larceny being the most common. Most prisoners served only portions of their sentences. One hundred eleven prisoners died while serving their sentences, most from tuberculosis. Prisoners worked but during the free time they hand-crafted many items which were sold at public bazaars held at the prison on Sundays after church services. Prisoners received regular medical attention, and many convicts learned to read and write in prison. The prison housed one of the first “public” libraries in the territory, and the fee charged to visitors for a tour of the institution was used to purchase books. An early electrical generating plant furnished power for lights and ran a ventilation system in the cellblock.

By 1907, the prison was severely overcrowded, and there was no room on Prison Hill for expansion. When the prison became overcrowded, as many as ten prisoners were packed into a cell, which measured 8 feet by 10 feet. The convicts constructed a new facility in Florence, Arizona and the last prisoner left Yuma on
September 15, 1909. The Yuma Union High School occupied the buildings from 1910 to 1914 and the football team was known as the Crims. Empty cells provided free lodging for hobos riding the freights in the 1920s, and sheltered many homeless families during the 1930’s Great Depression. Townspeople used the complex a
source for free building materials which along with plus fires, weathering, and railroad construction,  estroyed the prison walls and all buildings except the cells, main gate and guard tower.

While it was active the prison kept excellent prisoner records. The boxes are at the Arizona State Archives, 1700 West Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85007. Those prisoners who died while incarcerated and were not claimed by family were buried in the graveyard just outside the penitentiary. A shallow grave was dug where a wooden casket containing the body was lowered, covered with the soil and then overlaid with rocks. Since 1950, most of the grave markers have been taken by souvenir hunters or deteriorated under the weather. Only the grave marker of J.F. Floyd has been found and it is now on display inside the prison
museum. Grave markers were typically made into a slab of wood, with the prisoner’s name, number, and date of death.

Prison T-shirts, baseball caps, key chains, handcuffs, and books about the prison are available in the gift shop inside the Visitor Center.

Yuma Territorial Prison, 1 Prison Hill Road, Yuma, AZ 85364

Tel: 928-783-4771

Web Site: www.azstateparks.com

 

Border Air Museum

January 1, 2011

Douglas, Arizona was the first international airport of the Americas. Aviation was an important part of the evolution of Douglas and was almost lost if it were not for Richard and Irma Westbrook. Richard, a 1949 Douglas High School graduate, worked for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA.) Westbrook was inducted in 1993 into the NASA Hall of Fame. The Border Air Museum was a gift to the City of Douglas by the widow of the late Richard Westbrook in 2002. Richard died before the museum was completed. The Border Air Museum houses Westbrook’s collection of air history.  

            The museum exhibits a Trojan airplane which was made in Douglas in the 1950s. Other exhibits include displays of American Airlines memorabilia, a wall of history of the Douglas Army Air Field with artifacts, an in-depth history of Douglas aviation, history of the Mexican Revolution and aviation in Douglas, Women’s Air History, and a history of Hollywood making films using the Douglas airport. There is a letter from the President Roosevelt declaring the Douglas airport “The First International Airport of the Americas.” It was the first airport in the state to have night flights.

            Douglas had the first airplane in the state of Arizona. In 1908, a group of Douglas men formed the Douglas Aeronautical Club and built a glider from mail order plans. This glider was pulled into the air by a two horse buggy equipped for release with an aerial hitch, from behind the YMCA building. A year later they added a motor and propeller and they had motorized airplane.

            By 1913 this airplane was famous locally as The Douglas Bomber. General John “Black Jack” Pershing, who led the U. S. expeditionary force to capture the notorious Pancho Villa, recruited Charles Ford and his Douglas Bomber to fly over the border and drop bombs south of Agua Prieta on the railroad tracks to stop supplies flowing into Villa’s troops. The bombs were made from lard buckets filled with dynamite, scrap metal and concrete.

            After World War I and the Mexican Revolution, Douglas became a take off point for barnstormers. These stunt pilots and aerialists–or barnstormers as they became known–performed amazing tricks with airplanes. Barnstorming was the first major form of civil aviation.  By the 1930s, the Douglas Airport was a stopping point for American Airlines, traveling from San Diego to San Antonio.

Border Air Museum,  East 10th Street & Airport Road, Douglas AZ 85607, Tel: 520-417-7344

The Tactile Museum

July 15, 2010

They took away what should have been my eyes, (But I remembered Milton’s Paradise). They took away what should have been my ears, (Beethoven came and wiped away my tears). They took away what should have been my tongue, (But I had talked with God when I was young). He would not let them take away my soul — Possessing that, I still possess the whole. Helen Keller

            Helen Adams Keller (1880 – 1968) was a deaf-blind American author, political activist and lecturer. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Her teacher, Anne Sullivan, broke through her isolation which had been imposed by a lack of language contact, allowing Keller to blossom as she learned to communicate. A prolific author, Keller was outspoken in her opposition to war. As a member of the Socialist Party, she campaigned for women’s suffrage and workers’ rights.

            Through the vision of Arizona State University Professor Emeritus Dr. Roger W.Axford, a copious writer and advocate of education for everyone, the Tactile Museum for the Blind and Visually Impaired was founded in 1994. Since that time, more than 120 valuable art pieces have been donated to the museum by such notable artists as John Henry Waddell, Glenna Goodacre, Craig Lynch, and Michael Naranjo. Waddell is known for his life size action figurative sculptures. Goodacre, most famous for her tribute to the nurses in Vietnam, is considered to be America’s sculptor. Craig Lynch lives in Phoenix where he sells real estate and sculpts.

Michael Naranjo, a New Mexico native who was blinded as a soldier in Vietnam, found  inspiration in nature and what art he remembers seeing in galleries while growing up in his hometown of Taos, New Mexico. The Academy Gallery in Florence, Italy, and the Louvre in Paris have allowed him to examine their treasures-—in Paris, the Medici Venus, and in Florence, Michelangelo’s David. The authorities granted this rare privilege of allowing him to observe the masterpieces by touching them. By touch, Naranjo was able to observe minute details of the statues, such as the fact that in the eyes of Michelangelo’s statue, the pupils are shaped like hearts. But while he observes the eyes in other sculptors’ work, his own statues never have eyes, something it takes a while to realize as one appreciates the many other aspects of his work.

            The Tactile Museum was officially turned over to The Foundation for Blind Children as a gift from its original founders in1998. The Foundation for Blind Children provides education, tools and services that enable all persons with vision loss to achieve greater independence.

Governor Rose Mofford, businessman Eddie Basha, and Tempe Mayor Neil Guiliano were among the original founding members. Dr. Axford’s vision for this museum was threefold. He wanted to provide a forum for the presentation of art for blind and visually impaired people. He wanted to encourage artists to create art experienced by senses other than, but not excluding, sight. Finally, Axford wanted art to be used as an education tool for the sighted to gain insights into the blind experience. The mission of the Foundation for Blind Children is to help blind and visually impaired children, adults, and their families lead lives of independence and dignity through mastery of their environment. This is accomplished through education, training, counseling, communication, and technology.

Tactile Museum for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Foundation for Blind Children, 1235 E. Harmont Drive, Phoenix, AZ. 85020 Tel 602-331-1470 Web Site www.seeitourway.org/

Arizona’s Liberty Bell

July 2, 2010

Just one of Arizona museums many memory trips in its celebration of its centennial as a state is its Liberty Bell. The 2,080-pound bell was one of fifty-three replica liberty bells cast by a French foundry in 1950. During that year, U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snyder presented them to each of the forty-eight contiguous states and five territories to promote a U.S. savings-bonds drive. As part of that program, the Arizona bell was paraded throughout the state from May 15 through July 4, 1950. Representatives from the Treasury Department’s Savings Bonds Division conferred with officials of the various States, Territories, and the District of Columbia to make arrangements for turning over the bells. The arrangements included plans for the organization of proper ceremonies to mark the occasion. The replica Liberty Bells are identical in size, weight, manufacturing process, legends and markings, and tonal quality, with the original Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. Each bell with its mounting stands about six feet high is twelve feet in circumference around the lip, and seven and one-half feet around the crown. 

            Local Savings Bonds volunteer organizations in the various states arranged for receptions and tours for the bells. The donors of money and material for the Liberty Bells included the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, Kennecott Copper Corporation, Phelps-Dodge Corporation, American Smelting & Refining Company, the American Metal Company, Ltd. and the Miami Copper Company. The Ford Motor Company supplied forty-nine red, white and blue trucks which took the bells on the tour of the states. The United States Steel Corporation’s American Bridge Company provided the standards, stays and hardware for mounting the bells on the trucks. Individual truck operators within the States paid the salaries of the drivers. Standard Oil Company of New Jersey contributed the oil and gasoline required by the trucks.

            Fifty-three bells were cast for the Bond Drive, however, it appears that three more were cast, according to the remarks that Secretary of the Treasury Snyder made at a luncheon in Independence on November 6, 1950 when the Bell was presented to Independence, Missouri. Snyder states that, in addition to the fifty-three bells made as part of the original project, he arranged to have the bell made that General Douglas MacArthur presented to Japan (#54), he presented another bell to the town of Annecy, France (#55) where the bells were cast, and he presented a bell from the people of Annecy to Independence, Missouri (#56). The bells were cast at the Sons of Georges Paccard Foundry in Annecy-le-Vieux, France, in 1950.  The bell that was given to Independence, Missouri by the people of Annecy was dedicated on November 6, 1950, and President Harry S Truman was present for the dedication. After the Truman Library was built (1957) the Bell was moved to the Truman Library grounds and rededicated in 1959. The inscription accompanying the Liberty Bell on the grounds of the Truman Library reads

DEDICATED TO YOU, A FREE CITIZEN IN A FREE LAND

           Arizona Capitol Museum, 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix, Arizona 85007, Tel: (602) 926-3620, Fax (602) 256-7985, Web Site: http://www.lib.az.us/museum/

Marty Robbins Museum

May 17, 2010

Arizona Museums: A Journey Into Arizona’s Memory celebrates Arizona’s Centennial with a diversity of music. Some of its most beautiful music was written and sung by its beloved musician, Marty Robbins. The Friends of Marty Robbins Museum in Willcox displays the private collection of Juanita Buckley and her son Shawn P. Ring. Rex Allen Jr., whose father is featured in the museum next door, invited Juanita to move her extensive collection of Marty Robbins memorabilia to Willcox. Here the visitor can listen and purchase music CD’s and DVD’s in the gift shop and learn about Marty Robbins. The photograph exhibits lining the walls document Marty Robbins’ family and professional life. Don’t miss the museum’s wonderful exhibit of Man Walks Among Us. This song, written and performed by Marty Robbins, is from the from the 1963 Columbia film Return of the Gunfighter. Bob Nolan described this song as ‘one of the great nature songs.’ This is high praise from a man who wrote Cool Water and Tumbling Tumbleweeds.  

Marty Robbins was born in Glendale, Arizona on September 26, 1925, to John G. and Emma Heckle Robinson. His father played a harmonica, his grandfather Texas Bob Heckle was a story teller and a Texas Ranger.  Marty chose to join the Navy at the age of seventeen instead of graduating from high school. When World War II broke out, he saw action in the South Pacific. It was while he was in the Navy that he taught himself to play the guitar and before long he was composing music and entertaining the troops. He could always sing and most of the time he made up songs as he went.

After his discharge from the Navy, Marty returned to Glendale where he married Marizona Baldwin on September 28, 1948 in Parker, Arizona. Their first child, Ronald Carson Robinson, was born July 16, 1949. After his discharge from the Navy, he played at local venues in Phoenix, before moving on to host his own radio station show on KTYL. He eventually hosted his own television show on KPHO in Phoenix. After Little Jimmy Dickens made a guest appearance on Robbins’ TV show, he got Robbins a record deal with Columbia. Marty’s beautiful voice made him a natural for the plaintive ballads that he wrote about Arizona. He had an amazing vocal range, which went from deep, brooding lows to the lilting tenor.     He became the first country entertainer to receive a Grammy and he went on to win two Grammys: one for El Paso, one for My Woman My Woman My Wife. He joined the Grand Ole Opry show in 1951 and moved to Nashville a year later. Marty was the last to play at the Ryman Opry House and the first to play at the new Opry House. He was the first to receive a Golden Guitar Award and the Decade Award. Robbins’s 1957 recording of A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation sold over one million copies, and he was awarded a gold disc. He received the Country Music Hall Of Fame Award in October 1982, less than two months before he died.

Because of his beautiful voice, people don’t realize that he also starred in both English and Spanish movies. His movies include: The Badge of Marshal Brennan (1957),  Ballad of a Gunfighter (1964), Buffalo Gun (1961), Country Music (1972),  El Aventurero de Medianoche (1982), El Sueño de Mi Vida (1982), Guns of a Stranger (1973), Hell on Wheels (1967),

The Friends of Marty Robbins Museum, 156 N. Railroad Avenue, Willcox AZ 85643 Tel: 520-766-1404

The Franklin Auto Museum

May 1, 2010

Get ready to take another trip down memory lane by traveling into Arizona Museums: A Journey into Arizona’s Memory. We are going to get into one of those new fangled contraptions the automobile and visit the Franklin museum. Mr.

 Hubbard wanted to preserve “a small but delightful window into our past one that excites the imagination, especially of younger viewers, and helps people understand how things change and how things that may no longer be practical for today’s conditions, yet can be worth preserving for their beauty. Few things do this as well as the automobile.”   — Thomas H. Hubbard, April 12, 1992

Hubbard, who died on January 2, 1993, left Tucson a legacy of Franklin cars and automobile history. Born January 3, 1925, in Worcester, Massachusetts, he graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute in 1943, and received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in 1947. He worked for the Magma Copper Company until 1952. Two years later he restored his first car, a 1909 Reo. He restored several cars for the late William Harrah, founder of Harrah’s casinos and developed a sizable Franklin collection of his own. At present the Franklin Auto Museum houses the 1909 Reo, twenty-three Franklins and a 1957 Porsche coupe. Work is proceeding on restoring his home and will eventually display Hubbard’s vast collection of Native American Archaeological artifacts and his splendid collection of Arizona paintings and furniture, which he inherited from his aunt.

The H. H. Franklin Manufacturing Company built the most successful American direct air-cooled cars from 1902 to 1934. These cars engendered a loyal following and many owners preserved them long after production ceased. While restoring classic-era Franklins, Hubbard obtained and preserved the original factory Franklin blueprint collection so he could assure the authenticity of his restorations and also create a Franklin car which never saw production. The 1932 Series 16 V-12 was to have represented the crowning achievement of the Franklin automobile but just before production was scheduled the company fell into receivership and the production of the V-12, which Hubbard considered the ultimate Franklin, was altered. The V-12 Phaeton in the museum which Hubbard created from the drawings is one of a kind.

The Franklin automobile fell on hard times during the Great Depression of the 1930s, along with many other fine luxury car manufacturers. The emphasis for the Tucson collection of Franklin cars is on the finest classic automotive styling. All the major body types are represented from the exclusive “Town Car,” in which a liveried chauffeur sat outside, to the sporty “boat tail,” coupe, and including a 7-passenger open touring car with “jump seats,” a convertible coupe with a rumble seat, a sporty model called a “Speedster,” which is styled to look like a convertible sedan, a “Club Brougham” in the V-12 series which is the most handsome of these V-12 cars and of which only 200 were built in all body types. Five of the Franklins are open 4-door body types with dual windshields, that is, windshields for both front and rear seats, but with four completely different arrangements for the rear windshields.

The museum includes Hubbard’s entire Franklin automobile collection; an extensive library of Franklin Company research materials; the Alice Carpenter Collection of Native American artifacts; an historical adobe home, museum and other buildings along with an endowment to preserve the facility in Tucson. The museum has published a handsome book documenting every Franklin automobile. Today, the Franklin Auto Museum is working with high school students who are involved in vocational education. A group of these students oversaw the moving of a Franklin automobile from the museum to the Tucson Airport where it is on display.

The Franklin Auto Museum is located at 3420 N. Vine Ave., Tucson, AZ 85719

Telephone: 520-326-8038 Web Site: www.franklinmuseum.org

Grand Canyon: Kolb Studio

April 20, 2010

My book Arizona Museums: A Journey Into Arizona’s Memory has been designated as an Arizona Centennial Legacy Project. In this excerpt, the visitor will take a trip to the grand Canyon and visit the Kolb Studio Museum

            Nearly two decades before the creation of Grand Canyon National Park, two reckless brothers, Ellsworth and Emery Kolb wandered into the canyon. In 1904, the Kolb brothers began construction on this rambling, Victorian era building which has been restored to its original condition. It is not hard to believe that this haphazard structure jutting over the canyon was built without plans. A look outside gives visitors the feeling that they just might slide down the Bright Angel Trail. The Kolb brothers decided to earn their living by photographing tourists descending at Bright Angel trailhead.  By the time the tourists returned, the Kolb’s had photographs waiting for them. The Kolbs received worldwide attention when they filmed their 1911 trip down the Colorado River and delivered moving pictures of the Grand Canyon to awe-struck theater goers in 1912.. By 1915, their studio was a three-story structure which included living quarters for two families and a showroom for their prints. In their final addition in 1925 they converted the showroom into an auditorium to show their river trip movie, and added a new darkroom and lab space. Kolb Studio was now five stories and twenty-three rooms, teetering precariously over the canyon floor. Only the upper floor bookstore and second floor auditorium are open to visitors. Canyon-related art exhibits in the auditorium at Kolb Studio change every few weeks. Rangers conduct tours of portions of the living quarters during the winter.