How the Canyon Became Grand

How the Canyon Became Grand

A Short History

Written by:

Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781101177587
  • 240 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


Dismissed by the first Spanish explorers as a wasteland, the Grand Canyon lay virtually unnoticed for three centuries until nineteenth- century America rediscovered it and seized it as a national emblem. This extraordinary work of intellectual and environmental history tells two tales of the Canyon: the discovery and exploration of the physical Canyon and the invention and evolution of the cultural Canyon–how we learned to endow it with mythic significance.Acclaimed historian Stephen Pyne examines the major shifts in Western attitudes toward nature, and recounts the achievements of explorers, geologists, artists, and writers, from John Wesley Powell to Wallace Stegner, and how they transformed the Canyon into a fixture of national identity. This groundbreaking book takes us on a completely original journey through the Canyon toward a new understanding of its niche in the American psyche, a journey that mirrors the making of the nation itself.

Table of Contents

Overlook: The View from Dutton Point
Two New Worlds
Canyon, Found and Lost
Second Age, Second Chance
Rim and River
Lonely and Majestic Way: Big Cañon
Into the Great Unknown: Grand Canyon
Against the Currents: Return to Big Cañon
A Great Innovation: Grand Ensemble
Leave It as It Is: One of the Great Sights
Canyon and Cosmos
Modernism Moves On: The Populist Canyon
Down the River and Back from the Brink: The Environmentalist Canyon

Afterword: A Review from Point Sublime
Appendix: The Grand Canyon: A Graphical Profile
Sources and Further Readings