OTD Grand Canyon

March 30, 2021
OTD Grand Canyon

February 26, 1919

“…one great sight which every American should see.”

The nation welcomes a new national park, home to the
Grand Canyon.
“The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison—beyond description; absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world.”

Pres. Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 after visiting the Grand Canyon. Years earlier, Sen. Harrison (who later became president) proposed legislation to protect the Grand Canyon, but repeated congressional action failed. One of the challenges? Few lawmakers had seen the site to understand its importance.

John Wesley Powell

  • Civil War veteran & one of the first Grand Canyon explorers.
  • Lost his right arm in battle but ventured into completely unknown & uncharted territory exploring the West.
  • In 1869, 10 men set out on an exploration expedition; only 6 returned, incl. Powell – who spread the word of the wonder of the land & the Colorado River.
  • Well-known for his work as a map maker, scientist, & conservationist.

How It Happened

  • 1882: The first bill to establish the Grand Canyon as a national park was introduced; it took five bills over several decades before Congress approved the measure.
  • 1908: Pres. Roosevelt made the Grand Canyon a national monument.
  • 1919: After congressional action, Pres. Wilson declared the Grand Canyon America’s 15th national park – three yrs after creating the National Park Service.


Pres. Roosevelt underscored this point about Grand Canyon: "You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see." More than 5M people visit the national park every year.

Major John Wesley Powell

by Jenna Lee,

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