The Mapping Grand Canyon Conference was an event held at Arizona State University's Tempe campus between February 28 and March 1, 2019. The conference marked an unprecedented exploration of the science, art, history, and practice of Grand Canyon cartography. It was a celebration and critical examination of the cartographic history of a global landscape icon.
Free and open to all, the conference delivered a two-day program of map-based story-telling, transdisciplinary analysis, state-of-the-art geospatial and cartographic demonstrations, engaging hands-on activities, and open community dialogue.
Inspiration and justification for convening such a conference was the confluence of two milestones in Grand Canyon history: (1) the centennial (1919-2019) of the legislation that led to Grand Canyon National Park, and (2) the sesquicentennial (1869-2019) of John Wesley Powell's famous first exploration and mapping survey through the canyons carved by the Colorado River, including the Grand Canyon.
The Mapping Grand Canyon Conference originated as a component of a larger research project supported through an ASU Institute for Humanities Research (IHR) seed grant -- Mapping Grand Canyon: A Critical Cartographic History.
When renowned cartographer and mountaineer Brad Washburn visited the Grand Canyon in 1969, he discovered that existing maps of the area were "inadequate" for either popular or scholarly use. Never one to be deterred, Washburn set about making one. This is the story of his 7-year-long effort, done in close collaboration with the National Geographic Society, Switzerland's Federal Office of Topography, and scores of supporting characters, to satisfy his desire to produce the best map of the canyon -- more precise, more detailed, more beautiful -- than anything that had come before.
Shortly after the Grand Canyon became a national park in 1919, commercial artists began mapping the region for tourist audiences. Beginning around 1930, many of these maps used a cartoon style, populating the landscape with natural wonders, talking animals, cheerful tourists, quirky locals, and timeless “natives” (in the language of their day). These illustrated maps facilitated only the most basic navigational tasks, but they performed a great deal of work as cultural narratives, shaping viewers’ concepts and expectations of the Grand Canyon as a tourism destination. From reinforcing a standardized menu of iconic sites to perpetuating popular mythologies of indigenous culture, cartoon maps dealt in stereotypes. Yet they also offered a surprising level of detail and most were based in careful research. Several of the artists who made cartoon maps of the Grand Canyon were well-known as commercial cartographic illustrators, including Ruth Taylor White, Jo Mora, and Arizona Highways art director George Avey. They brought their own signature styles to a geographic region made famous by John Wesley Powell’s 1869 expedition and the Fred Harvey Company’s popular tours. “Cartoon Maps of Canyonland” showcases the rich visual history of mapping the Grand Canyon for tourists and unpacks the complex, evolving stories told by these engaging but imperfect maps.
In 1985, Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt and several others officially registered the Grand Canyon Trust as a non-profit organization dedicated to defending the natural integrity of the Grand Canyon. But the Trust realized early on that issues don’t stop at the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park. So in 1987, we expanded the scope of our work to encompass the entire Colorado Plateau, of which the Grand Canyon stands as the centerpiece. GIS at the Trust helps tell the historic and current conservation story through advanced cartography, interactive web mapping, and spatial analysis. Using art and science, we design maps that illustrate physical characteristics, cultural values, proposals and conservation actions, and vulnerabilities across the Colorado Plateau. Our work reaches a broad audience including policy-makers, constituencies, government agencies, and our supporters. This presentation will highlight some of our most recent work in and around Grand Canyon, challenges we face as geographers, and how our maps have been used to further protect the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon is a dynamic natural landscape that encodes nearly two billion years of geological history, and which is also situated within a cultural landscape that encodes the names, experiences, and lives of people from ancestral Native Americans to American explorers and settlers to modern visitors from across the nation and around the world. Place-based ways of teaching integrate the natural and the cultural attributes of a place or region such as Grand Canyon to facilitate learning. For the last century, Grand Canyon National Park has offered interpretive programs and resources to visitors that hew to this place-based philosophy, enabling millions of Park visitors to make intellectual and emotional connections to the landscape and its natural and cultural history. Geological and educational research have contributed to the interpretive mission of the Park with new research-based resources such as the Trail of Time Exhibition. Even more recently, advances in visualization and instructional technology have brought the pedagogical power of Grand Canyon to the online realm through immersive, interactive virtual field trips (iVFTs), which have the potential to enable many millions more to explore and learn from the natural and cultural landscapes of Grand Canyon, including its most physically inaccessible places. Current research is directed toward rendering iVFTs ever more authentic and place-based, while also enhancing the accessibility and effectiveness of in-person field experiences for visitors and students at Grand Canyon.
Over 700 known deaths have occurred in Grand Canyon from the first river exploration by John Wesley Powell in 1869 to present day. Causes range from suicides to accidental drownings, heatstroke, snake bite, flash floods, aircraft collisions, crashes and even murder. Based on the book ‘Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon’ by Michael Ghiglieri and Thomas Myers, this map illustrates the geography of deathly incidents. It uses a pan-sharpening technique to create a crisp, vibrant combination of layer tints and hillshades. The colours are defined to allow the map to be viewed in normal two dimensional viewing but in 3D when viewed using chromadepth glasses. The map provides a dramatic, visually engaging illustration of a unique dataset and maintain the first geocoded display of the complete record of deaths in Grand Canyon. In so doing, it illustrates the development and application of novel cartographic approaches. Vignettes describing the incidents bring the quantity of death into perspective through the telling of short individual stories, some fantastic, some tragic. The presentation will discuss the map’s creation in 2012, a recent update, and also the response to its publication. There were some very real issues faced in portraying an often sensitive subject matter, and some of the failures in this respect and the lessons learned will be explored.
In this presentation, Spindler will describe the work of designing and building the 100 Years of Grand collaborative digital archive and the associated challenges of item selection, description, copyright, and project coordination. He will also demonstrate the digital archive and present examples of key items of Grand Canyon history.
The passage of the Grand Canyon Protection Act (1992) and the completion of the Glen Canyon Dam Environmental Impact Statement (1996) ushered in a new era of environmental monitoring and research of the Colorado River corridor in Grand Canyon. Technological advancements in surveying and mapping systems over this period have made it possible to map larger areas with an increasing level of precision and accuracy. All of these mapping efforts rely on an accurate geodetic control network along the rim and inner canyon corridor. Examples of mapping efforts include aerial photographic, topographic, and bathymetric missions. Aerial overflights of the entire canyon corridor have been conducted in 2002, 2009, and 2013 and the high-resolution orthophographs and photogrammetrically-derived topography form the base data set for a number of investigations. From 2009 to 2017, over 160 miles of channel have been mapped using multibeam bathymetry. The bathymetric maps reveal the form of the Channel bed and allow researchers to asses flow operations from Glen Canyon dam on the sediment resources within the Colorado River ecosystem.
In 1923 an expedition left Lees Ferry with the intent of making an unbroken level survey line 251 miles through Grand Canyon. This expedition was led by the Chief Topographic Engineer of the USGS, Claude Birdseye. His handpicked crew consisted of four boatman, a rodman and a cook, who navigated four boats over 74 day to complete this remarkable task. Birdseye and his men also ran survey lines up prominent side canyons and were charged with perhaps the most important aspect of the mission, locating potential dam sites. The level line that was produced from this expedition and the accurate maps of eight potential dam sites started a dialogue that would frame and potentially tame the wild Colorado River running through the West. These maps were ultimately used to aid in the creation of multiple dams and water diversion projects. Today researchers continue to utilize several maps, photographs and survey points almost 100 years after they were collected.
Students were invited to submit their original cartographic work to the 2019 Mapping Grand Canyon Student Map Competition. Three categories of cartographic production were considered for this competition. In addition, Arizona State University and the Arizona Geographic Information Council have partnered to make all your hard work worth even more! When students submitted their map to the Mapping Grand Canyon Map Competition, they also had the option to automatically submit it to the AGIC Maps & Apps Competition at the 2019 AGIC Education & Training Symposium.
The intent of the 1869 river expedition of Major John Wesley Powell was to map the course of the Green River to its junction with the Colorado River, and then through the Grand Canyon, ending at Callville, Nevada, filling in somewhat terra incognita of the plateau country of the southwestern United States. Starting at Green River Station, Wyoming Territory, one of the four boats wrecked in the Cañon of Lodore, resulting in one crew member leaving the trip at the Uinta River. Weather, rapids, hard work portaging and lining boats and supplies, and other time-consuming activities curtailed much of the needed survey and mapping work. Loss of the maps due to wetting caused the need for them to be recreated. Even with that, plus broken barometers and wet chronometers and watches, at least one map remained so that Powell’s return river trip of 1871-72 could carry it with them, compare it with their longer-term surveying, and update the 1869 results. However, by the time they reached about river mile 240 in the Grand Canyon, Powell still could not tell how far west they had boated or how close they were to Callville. Because of that and other reasons, three men left the party at what has been named Separation Rapid and up Separation Canyon on the north rim. Powell and the remaining men exited Grand Canyon soon thereafter at the mouth of the Virgin River, not far above Callville; the three men perished somewhere on the Arizona Strip. This talk will cover how the men used their scientific instruments to survey and map, and speculate about what they knew of their location along their trip, focusing specifically on Grand Canyon.