Greene Family: Pioneers of the Colorado River
The Colorado River near Lee's Ferry, 1920s.
MCC 19 Henry S. McCluskey Photographs.
Site of Glen Canyon Dam, 1920s.
MCC 20 Henry S. McCluskey Photographs.
Natural resources have made Arizona a destination of choice for travelers since territorial days. In 1869 Major John Wesley Powell's expedition through the white water of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon caused a sensation. Powell was not the first to navigate the river, but his writings stirred the interest of adventurers around America.
In the early part of the 20th Century political leaders and engineers sought to "tame" the Colorado River and secure water resources for the arid West. In 1922 the Colorado River Compact established standards for dividing water between the states of Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California. The use plan for the Colorado River waters was designated multipurpose: irrigation; municipal and industrial; power generation; flood control; fish and wildlife and recreation.
Later, several plans were created to deliver Colorado River water to the population centers of these western states through several dams, canals and pumping stations. When the Glen Canyon Dam was completed it formed Lake Powell (the second largest man made lake in the country) and enabled the development of Glen Canyon Recreational Area.
Until the Nevills of Mexican Hat, Utah began commercial tourism ventures in the 1930s, only scientists, surveyors, sportsmen or professional adventurers braved the icy turbulence of the Colorado River. In 1944, an Arizona pioneer named Art Greene began river tours that traveled upstream to the remote Rainbow Bridge, but whichever direction you navigated, the Colorado River offered adventure and excitement.
In time, Art Greene would cultivate tourist enterprises on the Colorado that included Marble Canyon Lodge, Cliff Dwellers Lodge, Canyon Tours, Inc., Lake Powell Motel & Restaurant and Wahweap Lodge and Marinas at Lake Powell. Royalty, politicians, Hollywood stars and many tourists enjoyed the hospitality of the Greene Family. The tours were an adventure and a window to western culture and history.
In Moving Waters: The Greene Family Papers: Pioneers of the Colorado River we look at the development of recreation and tourism on the Colorado River. The story of the Greene Family chronicles the impact of the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell on the livelihood of the Greene Family and their contributions to the tourism and economy of Northern Arizona. The Greene Family Papers include manuscripts, ephemera and photographs that document 33 years on the Colorado River and Lake Powell.
Cooley, Barbara, The Colorado River, Crescent Books, 1986.
Nelson, Nancy, Any Time Any Place Any River: The Nevills of Mexican Hat, Flagstaff, Arizona,
Lake Books, 1991.
Rusho, W.L. and C. Gregory Crampton, Lee's Ferry; Desert River Crossing, 1998.
White, Judi Maureen, "Chronological History of the Arthur "ART" Greene, Sr. Family", 2001.
U.S. Department of Interior D-12 , Lake Powell: Jewel of the Colorado, 1961.
Thanks to the Greene Family for their generous gift of archives and especially Judi Maureen White for her assistance in the development of this exhibit.
Department of Archives and Special Collections
in partnership with
Arizona Humanities Council
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