Park museum technician Kim Besom with restoration workers and the three boats that were moved last July.
The Historic Boat Project is being supported by the National Park Service and Grand Canyon National Park Foundation to save the Colorado River running legacy. Support is also being provided by the Colorado River Fund.
The three boats moved yesterday, and their history:
The Esmeralda, designed and built by Ed Hudson, was the first power boat to run the Grand Canyon.
The WEN, a cataract boat built and used by Norm Nevills, was used on seven Grand Canyon river trips between 1938 and 1949. The boat, and her sister vessels the Mexican Hat and Botany, were used on the 1938 trip that included the first women to run the river – botanists Elzada Clover and Lois Jotter.
The Music Temple, a classic dory based upon the McKenzie river hull design, was originally owned by river historian P.T. Reilly and later by Martin Litton. It was the first dory to travel through the Canyon, emerging at Grand Wash in July of 1962.
Three boats were also moved in the first phase on July 23 and taken from the outdoor display area at the park’s former visitor center to a newly established indoor conservation workshop within the park. These were The Glen, a wooden Galloway boat used on the 1921-1923 U.S. Geological Survey expedition led by Emery Kolb; the Edith, a white cedar and oak-hulled boat named for Emery Kolb’s daughter, and used by Emory and Ellsworth Kolb to survey dam sites along the Colorado River in 1911 and 1912; and an unnamed boat, known as the Stone Boat for its use on a trip sponsored by Julius Stone in 1909 from the Green River in Wyoming to Needles, Calif.
“It has been very rewarding to be part of this long overdue conservation effort to preserve river running legacies for future generations or Grand Canyon visitors and river runners,” Grand Canyon National Park Foundation president Deborah Tuck said.
“This continues to be an exciting project, and one in which many people have helped become a reality,” said Joe Alston, Park Superintendent. “We have already made a great deal of progress in the conservation of the first three boats and appreciate the opportunity given to us by the Foundation and CRF to preserve these historical boats. Each boat has a colorful past that comes alive through stories of their past, their previous owners, and their passengers.”
The Glen, the Edith and the Stone Boat have already begun to take on a new look. Though on display in an outdoor environment for over 40 years, all of the boats are in good structural condition. Workers meticulously dry sponged the boats’ stable surfaces, primarily the canvas top areas, vacuumed the interior areas, and carefully removing foreign materials.
Line drawings were completed on each vessel and will provide important archival information related to the construction and, potentially, the repair work done on the boats through their lives.
In addition, a rubberized raft known as The Georgie, used by river runner Georgie White in the 1950s, a small sportyak used by Doc Marston in 1963, and the Escalante, the first kayak used on the river in 1941, have also been moved to secure storage near the conservation workshop.
The GCNPF is a private not-for-profit fundraising partner to the NPS at Grand Canyon. Established in 1995, its mission is to help protect, preserve, and enhance Grand Canyon beyond the financial capacity of the NPS and promoting citizen stewardship of the Grand Canyon.
The CRF is the collective manager of funds under the the NPS, derived from a financial requirement that is part of the current commercial river concession contracts. The CRF serves as project manager, or oversees project managers, in the expenditure of these funds on projects approved by the NPS for the enhancement of resource protection related to commercial/private use of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park.
If you would like to become involved with this project, contact the Grand Canyon National Park Foundation at 928-774-1760 or visit www.grandcanyonfoundation.org