This video was first posted in April of 2016 on one of my older, now-defunct YouTube channels. Its a short one talking about two of my favorite Grand Canyon topics; The Harvey Girls and the Grand Canyon Pioneer Cemetery!
I’m Being Watched
Before I go any further, I need to explain my constant movement on the video. There is a very large male elk off to my side who keeps moving around just outside the fence and I was keeping my eye on him as he was keeping an eye on me.
I’m really not sure why I didn’t give him a shout out on the video. Probably because I was nervous about what he may do. I was wanting to shoot the video and get out of there quickly before he decided to get curious and come in for a closer look.
Remember, this video is 5 years old and hopefully, my video skills have improved to the point where today, I would have included him in on the shoot… .
The Harvey Girls and My Teen Guests
To begin with, I always try to personalize my tours to the people that I am with. Make it more informative for them and what they are looking for in a tour location.
So when I am doing a Grand Canyon National Park tour that includes young adults, especially young females high school to college-aged, (and hopefully their parents) I like to get deep into the history and the importance of the Fred Harvey company and of course, the famous Harvey Girls.
When talking about grand Canyon and Harvey Girls, you also need to touch on the remarkable groundbreaking career of Fred Harvey’s main architect Mary Jane Coulter. What little is known about her is pretty amazing.
To do that, my discussion always starts by referencing the Alicia Parks documentary “Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound“. This excellent documentary first played on many PBS stations across the United States last year.
Her documentary illustrates what it was like to be a woman and a Harvey Girl in the early days of modern America. That there were women who came before them who broke the barriers, made new rules and made a better life for themselves while helping to settle the American West.
These daring ladies were doing all of this at a time when most women had no rights, no real future as an individual or no freedoms as they know them today.
It’s a purely inspirational and educational documentary that always gets rave reviews from the women on my tours and even some of the men like it. Especially the parents who feel their daughters are not getting any motivational or inspirational messages coming their way from the world around them.
Much of what I discuss and point out to them on the tour, they have never heard about. It was never talked about in their school or any womens groups they belong to. It also helps to put their view of the Grand Canyon into a much different (and positive) light.
So what they are hearing and seeing is often life-changing if not at least mind changing. Something that the parents or even the teens themselves will thank me for as we wrap up the tour.
It’s fun to watch the teens who seem like their parents are dragging them to purgatory, suddenly find the tour is of great interest and even pride. They are now wide eyes and I have their full attention as the tour unfolds.
Thumbs Up from a Park Ranger?
On a later tour to the Grand Canyon, I was able to make time for a stop at the Grand Canyon Pioneer Cemetery. Something I don’t get to do on many of my tours. But if time permits and the guests are game, I will add it in.
The Grand Canyon Pioneer Cemetary is filled with people who lived and worked on the Canyon or had a major impact on its creation and growth.
From Harvey Girls to Park Rangers to soulmates, Senators, and Military veterans. As well as a special memorial to those who died in the June 30, 1956, plane crash over the Grand Canyon that led to the creation of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It’s all right there.
Everyone buried here has a story that needs to be told and I try to at least hit the highlights that have some connection to the people on my tour or the stops we have made in the canyon.
The Grand Canyon National Park rangers are not always the most friendly people. I can often understand why. They do have a lot of territory to cover with a lot of people doing a lot of silly and often dangerous things in it. So it’s not often that they get to actually stop and give a tour guide a little friendly feedback on his storytelling. Especially when it involves a place very few visitors actually know exists.
In this instance, I got two thumbs up and a smile as he watched me and then waved at the end as he walked away. Knowing my history with the GC Park Rangers, this was something I was actually pretty proud of.
On a later tour, I actually a Ranger fill in a few missing details for me. As silly as that sounds, getting two thumbs up from a Grand Canyon park ranger is kind of a big deal in my book!