Mule skinner, trail guide inducted into Hall of Fame<br>
John D. Bradley wasn’t sure what to expect that day back in the mid-1930s when his boss called him into the office.
Bradley had been working as a mule guide for three years at Grand Canyon National Park, arriving for the job back in 1933.
“The boss called me in to the office one time and I thought he was going to fire me,” recalls Bradley, who is now 91 years old. “Instead, he made me trail foreman.”
The Grand Canyon Pioneers Society and the National Park Service honored John D. Bradley, second from left, Saturday afternoon for his contributions to the community. Pictured from left, Al Richmond of the Pioneers Society, Bradley, Jeanne Schick, who accepted the award for her father Edwin W. Cummings, and Robert Arnberger, Grand Canyon National Park superintendent.
Bradley was one of two pioneers honored Saturday for their contributions to the Grand Canyon community. Bradley and the late Edwin W. Cummings were inducted into the Grand Canyon Hall of Fame for Community Service.
“He was my dad’s boss, well he was everyone’s boss,” said Jeanne Schick, who also happens to be the daughter of Cummings. “He’s just a great guy. John is part of the Grand Canyon.”
Bradley’s days as a mule skinner were filled with unique experiences. He guided movie stars down the trail, as well as such dignitaries as the crown prince and princess of Norway.
Now a resident of Cottonwood, Bradley was also one of the famed singing cowboys.
“They paid you $60 per month (to be a trail guide) and if you could do anything else, they’ve give you $10 a month extra,” Bradley said about his singing sidelight. “After time, people came in and tried to get us to go to New York and Chicago. One guy tried to have us go to Paris, France. I told him that was too far to go.”
Bradley was the head mule skinner until 1952.
Cummings came to Grand Canyon in 1919 as a forest ranger and eventually became a trail guide. Cummings, who was a geologist, visited many corners of the Canyon that were not heavily traveled back in the early days.
Cummings died in 1951 and is buried at Pioneer Cemetery.
The award is given annually by the National Park Service and the Grand Canyon Pioneers Society. Al Richmond of the Pioneers Society and Robert Arnberger of the NPS got together three years ago and came up with the idea.
“It’s giving some notoriety that they have earned through service, for the efforts they’ve put into the Grand Canyon community” Richmond said of the award.
The first recipients in 1998 were Buford and Myra Belgard, Jack and Betty Verkamp and Mary Hoover, who were involved with the community through the American Legion’s post and auxiliary.
“I think what’s important is to give some type of formal recognition for what you’ve realized for a long time,” Arnberger told the crowd, who were mostly Pioneer Society members. “There’s always been a community of people here who’ve come together.”