River-running pioneer Georgie Clark White was recently recognized by the Arizona State Board on Geographic and Historic Names by having the 24-Mile Rapid on the Colorado River named in her honor.
But not everybody agrees with White being named for that particular spot on the river. The Grand Canyon Private Boaters Associa-tion, for example, believes other pioneers are worthy of the honor on the river’s “roaring 20s.” And perhaps White should be immortalized elsewhere on the river.
“We don’t have any opposition of naming a rapid for her,” said Jo Johnson, membership director for the GCPBA. “We just think that’s not the right one.”
The renaming of the rapid at the federal level has not yet been approved. Arizona’s decision was forwarded to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names and that group will review the request.
Johnson said the GCPBA is not planning to do anything as an organization in opposition to the renaming of the rapid. But the federal group can probably count on receiving a few opinions from private boaters.
“I suspect that they’ll be getting the message about that particular rapid,” Johnson said. “I think a lot of people admired Georgie for what she did. She was very gutsy and a very unusual person in a lot of ways. She wasn’t necessarily doing the best things for the Grand Canyon ... she was a businessperson first.”
Johnson said White was no friend of private boaters.
“She created a trend that was pretty difficult for the Canyon in the last few years,” Johnson said. “She made a plan that there was no room for private boaters.”
White was known for being the first to use inflatable, motorized rafts on the Colorado River. About the time of her arrival in the 1950s, commercial river running really began to take off.
Johnson just believes there are other river runners worthy of such an honor.
“Many other river runners have no rapids named for them,” Johnson
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said. “These historical giants such as Emery Kolb, Robert Brewster Stanton and John Wesley Powell have yet to have any rapid named in their honor. Besides that, to change the name of the last rapid Bert Loper ran alive in 1949 might not be such a good idea.”
Johnson suggested that Whitmore Rapid be renamed Georgia Rapid because she was one of the first commercial river operators to use the Whitmore Helicopter Exchange area.
“She used to fly people out at Whitmore Rapid on helicopters,” Johnson said. “She started that practice even after the Park Service asked her to stop. But it was on Indian land. It was not a great idea, but once it started, it was pretty hard to stop it.”