Life and Death in the Grand Canyon

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Duration 01:06:28

Emory University

Patrick Allitt has been a professor of American History at Emory University since 1988, where he teaches courses on American intellectual, environmental, and religious history, as well as Victorian Britain and the Great Books. After earning an undergraduate degree at Oxford and a Ph.D. in American history at the University of California, Berkeley, Professor Allitt held postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard and Princeton. He is the author of seven books, including his most recent: A Climate of Crisis: America in the Age of Environmentalism.



History of the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is important to geologists, historians, hydrologists, and tourists.  For most of its history it was hard to reach, difficult to climb into, and even more difficult to descend by boat.  Heat and aridity made it hard to stay alive.   The leader of the first American expedition, Joseph Ives, wrote in 1858 that “ours has been the first, and will doubtless be the last, party of whites to visit this profitless locality.”  Several members of the first Colorado River expedition, led by John Wesley Powell in 1869, were killed by local Indians. As late as the 1950s, the Bureau of Reclamation planned to build a dam that would completely flood it.  This talk follows the history of the canyon and the people who have lived there, tracing the surprisingly late-developing idea that it is important, above all, as a place of beauty.



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Jeffrey Watt

Facinating history

Professor Allitt was a wonderful and interesting speaker and he shared a lot of history that we didn’t know about the Grand Canyon. It was a fun lecture.

3 years ago
Deborah Bhagwandin

Life and Death in the Grand Canyon

Enthusiastic lecture! I really enjoyed learning from Professor Allitt about the Grand Canyon and how it developed into a world class tourist attraction! I enjoyed hearing the stories about the early explorers, artists, and preservationists who all played their part in making the Grand Canyon accessible to all of us. Thank-you!

3 years ago
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