By Radu Timis
“The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children and for all that come after you….”
- President Theodore Roosevelt
In 1893 President Benjamin Harrison set aside the canyon area as a national forest reserve. 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt, an avid outdoorsman who visited the area in 1903, declared the canyon a national monument in an effort to stop the private development of the land.
In 1919 President Woodrow Wilson created The Grand Canyon National Park. Since 1870 people came to South Rim as they could: on foot, in wagons, stagecoaches, horseback, then later by rail, cars, and airplanes.
Today, Grand Canyon is visited by more than 5 million people every year, being one of the most popular national park in USA.
No natural feature on Earth is as huge, vast, and intriguing as this immense chasm through arid desert, in the northern state of Arizona, bordering Utah and Nevada. Here, Colorado River sculpted for millennia through newer and older layers of rock, offering today a spectacular gorge 277 miles long, 10-16 miles wide, one mile deep, and covering a surface of approximately 2000 square miles.
The rocks seen today in Grand Canyon range (geologically speaking) from young to very old. On the west side of the canyon, lava was flowing in it one million years ago. On top of the canyon rims the Kaibab limestone is 270 million years old. The Precambrian, dark, Vishnu Schist, the oldest rock on Earth, two billion years old (the Earth’s age is appreciated to be 4.5 billion years), is the predominant rock in the inner gorge. 70 million years ago the geological turmoil of colliding tectonic plates resulted in an elevation of the Colorado Plateau at more than 10,000-11,000 ft, and the formation of the mountains in western USA.
The Colorado River’s tributaries drained off the western side of the Rocky Mountains, bringing sand and gravel. The massive sediment laden Colorado River, with the help of the wind, ice, and rain started cutting and deepening through layers of rocks, resulting in cliffs collapsing and the width of the canyon enlarging.
At the western end of the canyon the construction of the Hoover Dam, in 1935, resulted in the formation of Lake Mead, at the Arizona/Nevada border. Today, the lake is a huge part of 1.5 million acres that is Lake Mead National Recreational Area. In 1964 the Glen Canyon Dam was built on Colorado River, and Lake Powell (in Utah) formed on the canyon’s eastern end. The river’s water was placed in storage, electrical power generated, and the mighty erosion of the canyon harnessed.
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Grand Canyon National Park