Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 69.djvu/421

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417
GRAND CAÑON OF THE COLORADO

THE MAKING OF THE GRAND CAÑON OF THE COLORADO
By Professor A. R. CROOK

CURATOR, ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

THE Grand Cañon of the Colorado furnishes the most impressive illustration of cañon-making forces to be found, and presents a fascinating chapter of world history.

Nearly every visitor to the Cañon attempts an explanation of the manner of its making, and their explanations may be broadly grouped under five types—the explanation of the Indians who for centuries have inhabited the Colorado River region, that of one of the oldest white settlers in Arizona, that of a successful Chicago business man, that of a famous literary man, and finally that of men who have studied various phases of world making long enough to have learned the chief principles involved.

The Indians who have lived in Arizona, generation after generation, might be expected to have some notion of the origin of the Cañon. Their explanation is that a wise chieftain long mourned the death of a beloved wife. Finally, in pity, one of the gods made a great cleft in the earth, took the chieftain to the Happy Hunting Ground to see his wife; and then upon their return, fearing that others might go that way, the god hurled a river in the cleft where it is now flowing, effectually barring the way against intruders. The 'god-made' theory of the Indians is unsatisfactory as the infant science of any race always is.

The explanation of one of the oldest settlers in the region is hardly better. It is that of the widely-known John Hance. One morning he entertained the writer with the picturesque stories which he has poured into the ears of many an amused traveler, telling how thirty years ago he went from the Atlantic coast to Arizona to find room for his energies. In the east he was crowded. In Arizona he found opportunity to expand. A few years ago he used to tell that he dug the cañon, but says that he no longer makes the statement, because a little girl asked him where he put the dirt! The man-made explanation of the white man is no more satisfactory than the god-made theory of the Indian.

A Chicago business man who knows how to make dollars, thinks he knows how the cañon was made, and after visiting it said to the author: "I'll tell you how that cañon was made. Once there was a