Grand Canyon History 101 Guide

Grand Canyon History

The first evidence of human history in the Grand Canyon Area dates back over 10,000 years.  Basket making cultures, the nomad predecessors of the Ancestral Puebloan cultures first settled what is now Grand Canyon National Park around 4,000 years ago.  The Basket making cultures were primarily hunters and gathers, while the Puebloans, are known for their numerous architectural feats in the American Southwest.  Puebloan structures in the Grand Canyon are relatively small compared to other regions of the Colorado Plateau, but at least two significant historical settlements were built along the Colorado River. Keep reading the guide below to learn more about canyon history.

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Grand Canyon History and Timeline

History of Grand Canyon National Park

In 1540 Garcia Lopez de Cardenas led a party of Spanish soldiers with Hopi guides to the Grand Canyon under orders from Francisco Coronado while searching for the Seven Cities of Gold. These were the first non-natives to see the Grand Canyon and the next visitors did not arrive until a group of missionaries came 200 years later.

In 1869 Major John Wesley Powell lead the first river trip through the Grand Canyon while on a geologic expedition of the Western US that followed the Colorado River. It wasn't until the late 1800s that the first influx of westerners arrived at the Grand Canyon. Copper, uranium and other minerals were mined briefly at the Canyon, but many would be miners discovered the tourism industry was much more profitable. In 1919 the Canyon was named a National Park, and today over 2,000 residents live within Grand Canyon National Park to support the millions of tourists who travel to this amazing destination each year.

Grand Canyon Historical Timeline

1100- Ancestral Puebloan first settled the Grand Canyon

1540- The first Europeans visit the Grand Canyon on the Coronado Expedition

1869- The first successful expeditions through the Grand Canyon is led by John Wesley Powell

1901- Trains began transporting people between Williams, AZ and the South Rim.

1905- Santa Fe Railway opened the El Tovar, Grand Canyon’s first hotel.

1908- Grand Canyon National Monument was established by Theodore Roosevelt.

1919- Grand Canyon was designated a National Park

1927- First scenic air flights over the Grand Canyon

1975- The park is expanded by the Grand Canyon National Park Enlargement Act

1979- Grand Canyon is named a World Heritage Site.

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