The Grand Canyon is a vast area in the northwestern Arizona. The area is known for its stunning geography and the deep cutting path made by the Colorado River through the rocky terrain. The Native American tribes have lived in the Grand Canyon area for thousands of years. It was first discovered by the European explorers when Francisco Vasquez de Coronado visited it in 1540.
Later, as the western territories became a part of USA, the Grand Canyon area was more thoroughly explored by the American geologist John Wesley Powell. Powell led a group of explorers across the Grand Canyon area, undertaking a very dangerous journey. He made his explorations in 1869 and it was largely thanks to his information that Grand Canyon became more widely known in USA.
After the detailed exploration of the area by John Wesley, the Grand Canyon became a popular tourist attraction. By the end of the 19th century, thousands of people from all over USA were heading over to the Grand Canyon to see and marvel at its extra-ordinary geography. At about this time, the future-President Theodore Roosevelt also visited the Grand Canyon area. He was deeply moved by the beauty and natural charm of the Grand Canyon and through the rest of his life, continued to come back to the place again and again.
President Theodore Roosevelt was a great admirer of the unique and diverse geography of the Grand Canyon area. He thought that Grand Canyon and the other geographically notable and unspoiled locations in the American west should be preserved by the government.
So he began the practice whereby a President could declare a significant natural haven such as Grand Canyon as a ‘national monument’. By granting the place such a status, the President brought it under the control of different government agencies that preserved the place well.
President Roosevelt started by declaring the Grand Canyon as a national monument. In January, 1908, he declared that the 800,000 acres over which the Grand Canyon spanned was now a part of the national monument.
His famous statement, which he gave at the time, is worth quoting. He said, ‘Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who came after you, as the one great sight that every American should see’.
However, the declaration didn’t come into effect as late as 1919. Private property ownership and construction in the Grand Canyon continued to take place until 1919 when the Grand Canyon National Park Act was signed by President Woodrow Wilson.
Thanks to its status, first as a national monument and then as a national park, the Grand Canyon area stands relatively unspoiled to this day. Today, nearly 5 million people visit it every year and marvel at its beauty. The Canyon is considered one of the most iconic and recognizable sites of America.