Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

About the Series | Get Involved | TV Schedules | For Educators | Contact Us |

Grand Canyon National Park

  1. Page:
  2. 1
  3. 2
Ralph Henry Cameron, 1915 Add to Scrapbook

Ralph Henry Cameron, 1915

Stephen Mather at entrance to Cameron's Indian Garden Mine, Grand Canyon National Park, 1921 Add to Scrapbook

Stephen Mather at entrance to Cameron's Indian Garden Mine, Grand Canyon National Park, 1921

continued from page 1

In a lawsuit working its way toward the Supreme Court, Cameron's lawyers even argued that Theodore Roosevelt's executive order creating the national monument had been illegal.

In 1919, Congress finally passed a bill creating Grand Canyon National Park. A year later, the Supreme Court ruled against Cameron and ordered him to abandon the mining claims he had used to gain control of the Grand Canyon's most scenic spots.

Despite the rulings against him, Cameron refused to remove his buildings, and used his political power to ensure no action was taken to make him comply. Park rangers opposed to him sent their mail in code because they suspected that the canyon's postmaster, Cameron's brother-in-law, was opening their letters.

When Cameron proposed two giant hydroelectric dams and a platinum mine within the park, Stephen Mather decided the senator had gone too far and set out to stop him. Mather galvanized public support and all of Cameron's projects in the Grand Canyon were stopped.

Furious, Cameron had the entire appropriation for Grand Canyon National Park removed from the Senate budget. He denounced Mather on the Senate floor and stirred up spurious claims against Mather and Albright's integrity.

Ralph Henry Cameron's gate and toll, Grand Canyon National Park, circa 1910, Kolb Bros. photo Add to Scrapbook

Ralph Henry Cameron's gate and toll, Grand Canyon National Park, circa 1910, Kolb Bros. photo

But it all backfired when newspapers reported that Cameron had used his Senate position to further his private interests. Park supporters in Congress criticized his vendetta against Mather, and in 1926, the voters of Arizona refused to re-elect him.

Out of power, Cameron could no longer protect his Grand Canyon empire. His fraudulent mining claims finally had to be abandoned. Indian Gardens, the dilapidated rest stop on the trail down to the river where Cameron's outhouses contaminated the only fresh water, was turned over to the park. And at Bright Angel Trail, the toll gate was finally removed, so that the public, the people who actually owned the park, could freely use it.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

For Educators

Check out the lesson plans and other materials for teachers and educators.

Donate to PBS

Make a Donation

Supporting your local PBS station ensures that Ken Burns's remarkable stories continue to be broadcast. Donate Today.

Watch Video Clips

Watch Video

Watch clips and videos from the documentary.

View with fog in valley and peaks lighted by sunset, winter; Yosemite National Park

Download Wallpapers

Download some of the glorious images from the documentary to enjoy on your desktop.

Bank of America Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr Fund Corporation for Public Broadcasting The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations Park Foundation

National Park Foundation The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation The Pew Charitable TrustsGM

THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA'S BEST IDEA is a co-production of

Florentine Films and WETA

 

What is this?

 

Hide this

Show Scrapbook Bar