Help Save Kolb Studio

5172_Kolb_Posters-RIVER-12x18-HIGH RESKolb Studio needs your help. Perched on the edge of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the 109-year-old building is in need of some serious repair. Earlier this year, the Grand Canyon Association launched a fundraising campaign to save this historic site. Over the years, countless visitors and extreme weather have taken a toll on the structure. The association hopes to raise $400,000 by the end of the year (they’ve raised $273,752 to date) to replace the entryway; repair and replace structural beams, wooden porches, and log and shingle siding; and remedy other issues. The goal is to restore the structural integrity so visitors can continue to learn about the Kolb brothers and the Grand Canyon.

Below, director of communications and publishing Miriam Robbins talks about the Save Kolb Studio campaign and why your help is desperately needed.

Talk to us about the Save Kolb Studio campaign. How did it come to be?
The Grand Canyon Association is Grand Canyon National Park’s official nonprofit partner. In additional to running seven bookstores at the park and several programs for the public like the Grand Canyon Field Institute, we raise funds to help with specific park projects every year. Kolb Studio is more than 100 years old and was built literally on the edge of the rim of Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon Association are stewards to this building, and we run one of our stores out the building and ensure that the historic integrity of the building is intact. While Kolb has undergone some restoration over time, the hard weather conditions at Grand Canyon and the age of this historic building require that we provide some maintenance to the building so that it’s structurally sound and maintained for future visitor use.

Why is this campaign so important? What’s going on?
Right now, Kolb Studio is open to the public as a retail store for Grand Canyon Association; we also run an exhibit hall there (currently showing The Amazing Kolb Brothers). There is also a large area of the building that is only open for special tours. This area was the main residence of the Kolb family for decades. If the building is not restored at this time, we may not be able to allow public visitation to this building.  It is a valuable historic site, and its preservation ensures people can learn about the early pioneers, the Kolb brothers, for many generations to come.

5172_Kolb_Posters-STUDIO-12x18-LOW RES
Who were the Kolb brothers and what did they do?
Ellsworth and Emery Kolb ventured to Grand Canyon National Park in the early 19-teens of last century. They were entrepreneurial and started a photography business to capture tourist photos at Grand Canyon. They originally got a small piece of land on the rim from early pioneer John Cameron before Grand Canyon was a national park. In fact, at that time, the popular Bright Angel Trail was a toll road, charging a fee of $1 to enter. Kolb Studio started out in a tent, then a small, one-room house that they built up over time.  The brother’s photography business flourished, and they took many photos of people coming down Bright Angel Trail — especially on mules. In the early years, they did not have water at the rim, so one brother would hike 4 miles down to Indian Garden, where there were springs, to develop the photos and then hike back up to deliver the prints to the tourists. The Kolbs were also known as daredevils and would hike into the Canyon to capture images that no one else could reach by hanging off cliffs and rocks. They also made a movie of their harrowing trip down the Colorado River, which was shown all over the country and at Kolb Studio until the 1970s. This video encouraged people from all over the world to visit the Grand Canyon. Over time, Ellsworth and Emery parted ways, but Emery stayed and continued showing the movie while raising a family at Kolb Studio. After Emery’s death, the Park Service took ownership of the building, and it was refurbished and turned into a store and interpretive facility in the 1990s by the Grand Canyon Association.

What role does Kolb Studio play at the Grand Canyon today?
Grand Canyon Association park stores sell products relating to Grand Canyon. In addition to the 44 books published by the Grand Canyon Association, we also sell other gift and educational items, including junior-ranger materials, jewelry, T-shirts and water bottles. Our mission is to educate the public about Grand Canyon National Park, so all our products help people understand the Grand Canyon. Purchases are tax free, and all proceeds help support Grand Canyon National Park. Kolb Studio also has long-term exhibits that rotate out every few years — The Amazing Kolb Brothers is currently showing, and it talks about the history and lives of the Kolb brothers and the building; and every September through January, there is an exhibit and sale of the Plein Air paintings for the Grand Canyon Celebration of Art event. During the winter months, Grand Canyon rangers hold daily tours of the Kolb Studio residence, which is normally closed to the public.

How can our readers help Save Kolb?
Share the website and learn more about the Kolb brothers, their history and the importance of this historic building. You can also make a donation. If you make a donation of $75 or more, you’ll receive a Kolb poster. There are four posters to choose from, each showing a depiction of one of the Kolbs’ photos.  They are custom designed 12×18 posters (not framed).  You can also share your photos and stories on the Grand Canyon Association Facebook page.

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Filed under Eco Issues, History, Make a Difference, Q&A, Things to Do

Glass Containers Banned at Oak Creek and Fossil Creek

Jeff Maltzman | Oak Creek

Jeff Maltzman | Oak Creek

It’s April 22 … yep, Earth Day. As such, we thought this reminder about following the Leave No Trace Principles was especially appropriate. Unfortunately, LNT is an ethos that is frequently ignored (as you’ll read below and in our upcoming June issue), and that’s a dangerous problem. Now, our friends at the Forest Service have implemented this latest ban to keep visitors safe and, hopefully, eliminate dangerous litter.

The Coconino National Forest is implementing a prohibition on glass food and beverage containers on federal lands near Oak Creek and Fossil Creek, two popular public swimming areas. This ban will be in effect beginning April 1, 2014. Broken glass containers are to blame for cut feet and litter in many locations along these two streams. This prohibition will enhance health and safety and reduce hazardous waste in the stream corridor.

Along Oak Creek near Sedona, glass containers are prohibited on Forest land within 300 feet of the edge of Oak Creek except within designated picnic and campgrounds or within a motor vehicle. This prohibition extends from Red Rock Crossing upstream through Oak Creek Canyon to Pumphouse Wash.

For Fossil Creek, glass containers are prohibited within the entire Wild and Scenic River area ¼ mile on either side of Fossil Creek from the Fossil Springs area downstream to below Stehr Lake. This includes portions of the Coconino and the Tonto national forests. Visitors may have glass containers within their vehicle.

Forest visitors are encouraged to abide by the prohibition so that the stream corridor is safer for everyone. Visitors should bring alternate types of containers with them if they are picnicking stream-side. The prohibition will be posted at all bulletin boards and entry areas. Per Title 16 36 CFR 261.50 (a) and/or (b), violation of this Order is punishable as a Class B misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, or both.

Contact the Red Rock Ranger District at (928)-203-2900 or for additional information.


Filed under Eco Issues, Et Cetera, Mother Nature

Take a Hike … but Use Common Sense

hiking guideIt’s warming up out there, and that means hikers and mountain bikers need to take extra precautions before hitting the trail. Unfortunately, according to a story that ran on, there’s been an uptick of mountain rescues in the Valley compared to last year at this time. Translation: People are not playing it safe out there.

“Common sense is the most important thing to take on the trail,” says Robert Stieve, editor of Arizona Highways. “And water is just as important. A gallon a day is the general rule; however, if you’re hiking the desert in the summer, which is strongly discouraged, you’ll need at least double that amount.”

Stieve also advises that you adhere to 10 basic rules — commandments, really — which he spells out in much more detail in his book, Arizona Highways Hiking Guide: 52 of Arizona’s Best Day Hikes for Winter, Spring, Summer & Fall:

  • Never hike alone.
  • Tell someone where you’re hiking, the route you’ll be taking and when you’ll be home.
  • Carry identification and the name and telephone number of whom to call in case of an emergency.
  • Before you leave home, check the forecast, and pay attention to the weather while you’re on the trail.
  • Study the maps before you go, and carry a compass, not just a GPS.
  • On the trail, know where you’re going where you are in relation to the map you’re carrying.
  • Take plenty of food, and carry more water than you think you’ll need.
  • There’s no such thing as too much sunscreen.
  • Don’t overestimate your abilities.
  • Adhere to the Leave No Trace principles.

Spread the word and please share these life-saving tips with out-of-town visitors.


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State Route 24 in Southeast Valley Will Open Next Month

Officials celebrate the impending completion of State Route 24. From left: Jan Brewer, governor of Arizona; Alberto Gutier, director of Governor's Office of Highway Safety; Jane Morris, executive director of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority; Robert Halliday, director of Arizona Department of Public Safety; John Halikowski, director of Arizona Department of Transportation; Scott Smith, mayor of Mesa

Officials celebrate the impending completion of State Route 24. From left: Jan Brewer, governor of Arizona; Alberto Gutier, director of Governor’s Office of Highway Safety; Jane Morris, executive director of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority; Robert Halliday, director of Arizona Department of Public Safety; John Halikowski, director of Arizona Department of Transportation; Scott Smith, mayor of Mesa. | Courtesy of Arizona Department of Transportation

There’s nothing we at Arizona Highways love more than … well, Arizona highways. See? It’s right there in our name. So we’re understandably excited about the newest highway in Arizona: State Route 24, also known as the Gateway Freeway.

The route connects State Route 202 (the “Loop 202″ to locals) to Ellsworth Road near Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in the Southeast Valley. It’s only a mile long, but anytime a highway opens, it’s a relatively big deal. Our bosses at the Arizona Department of Transportation hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and public open house at the freeway on Tuesday. The event included a speech by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, and ADOT director John Halikowski said

when regional and state funding are available, SR 24 will be expanded to connect to a planned Pinal County transportation corridor.

In addition to being the newest, SR 24 is also the lowest-numbered state highway in Arizona.

For more information about the new road, visit ADOT’s website.

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Q&A With Brooke Bessesen, Author of Zachary Z. Packrat Backpacks the Grand Canyon

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 1.05.05 PMWriting and working with animals are two of Brooke Bessesen’s passions, and she’s found a way to combine them: Using knowledge from her work at the Phoenix Zoo and with conservation research, Bessesen has authored several children’s books. Bessesen spoke with us about her new book, Zachary Z. Packrat Backpacks the Grand Canyon, and how she combines fun with education.

In the book, Zachary learns he can’t take items from the Grand Canyon — an illustration of the Leave No Trace philosophy. Why was it important to make that concept the focus of the book?

I’m a conservationist at heart, and I work in a lot of areas of conservation for wildlife and environment. Anytime somebody goes into nature, I would encourage a “tread lightly” attitude. With Zachary, it was particularly important because he went in with the mission of collecting things. Being the packrat that he was, he was looking to get something from the Canyon as he entered it. I think for a lot of people who are going on vacation, they’re thinking a lot about what they are going to get from their experience. Sometimes we can all become a little self-focused in our own experience as we go out and see the world. I thought it was a very important and valuable element to include in the story that as he goes, he begins to see the beauty of the Grand Canyon, and without really realizing it until the end, he’s collecting things that are really more valuable than the stuff he set out to collect.

Why did you structure the book the way you did?

I wanted to build something as interactive as a picture book could be. One page gives descriptions of 16 animals found at the Canyon. All of them are found within the story, and none of them is identified, other than the mule. I just gave descriptions of the animals so that the kids would have to go look them up. It requires the readers, as they see an animal, to ask the same question they would ask if they were in the wild, which is “What is that?” And then they can go to their guidebook, which is also Zachary’s guidebook, and look that animal up and learn about it. That’s what makes going out in nature so much fun. I thought it was really exciting to find a way to do that for kids in a picture book.

Is it hard to come up with rhymes and still be informative and educational?

My grandfather was a poet, and I spent my summers with him in Minnesota when I was a little girl. He and I did a lot of rhyming games and a lot of wordplay, which is what I call this. So, as you can imagine, the crafting of a book like this is really a puzzle. Each word goes in, it comes out, and it goes back in and gets shuffled around and changed and decided upon again. It’s kind of a long, puzzle-like process to complete the text.

What is your intended audience?

I think all of my books have a thread though them, which is that they are made for multiple reasons and audiences. The book was crafted for somebody who is going to the Canyon — a child, perhaps, who gets to look through the book before they get there or see what they might see if they could hike down. But in addition, I really wanted it to be for kids who never get to the Grand Canyon — for children in classrooms all around the country, and for kids whose parents or grandparents went to the Grand Canyon and can bring them back a sliver of their trip so the child can feel like they got a little bit of the journey. It’s such a joyful thing for me to be able to work with animals, to work with wildlife and then be able to share that through my books, for kids who can relate and have been there and for kids who don’t get that opportunity. This is a window for them.

— Kirsten Kraklio

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Filed under Books, Mother Nature, Q&A

Friday Fotos: On The Water’s Edge

Lawrence Busch‎ | Gilbert Riparian Preserve

Lawrence Busch‎ | Gilbert Riparian Preserve

If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” —Loren Eiseley

Thank you everyone for posting your photographs to our Facebook wall. We hope you enjoy this week’s gallery and don’t forget to share this post with your favorite people on social media. Enjoy!


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