Barry Goldwater

   Did you see that 1940 trip as being a major adventure, or was it just kind of another trip for you?

   Oh, I don’t remember. That’s a hell of a long time ago! I just looked forward to doing it. I had read Powell and I knew Emery Kolb very well, I knew his brother Ellsworth, and I’d been up to see them, been down the trails in the Canyon. So it was just a trip.

   I wrote Norm a letter and asked him. He said, yes, he was taking people down for six hundred dollars from Green River, Wyoming to Hoover Dam. So I signed up for the whole trip, but then my wife got a little upset and said she didn’t want me gone that long. So I settled for starting at Green River, Utah, and I gave up the first part of the trip.

   We had a hell of a good time, we were very fortunate. Nevills had included some people that made the trip very interesting: for example, we had a geologist from Salt Lake, we had a woman from New York who was one of the best living bird people in the country, so we knew all about the birds. It was a very well-conducted trip. Norman Nevills did a good job. It was his second trip down. We helped him build the boats—they were plywood boats, about three-quarter-inch plywood.

   I think the one I used is over at Arizona State, but I don’t know where it is. I gave it to them, but I have no idea what they did with it. I have the oars that I used. I still kept those. But that’s about it.

   It seems like that was a real interesting time in the history of the country.

   Well, World War II was coming up. Almost as soon as the river trip was over, within about a year, I went on duty with the Air Corps and stayed five years with them. That’s about when it happened. There wasn’t a lot of commotion [beforehand]. The Depression never really bothered Arizona a lot. No depressions bother this place.

   When you went on that first trip were you aware the war might happen? Did you see it coming then?

   Well, I was aware of Hitler. I honestly didn’t think we’d get into the war. But by the time—well, I was on duty in 1940—I went on duty early—there was no question there was going to be a war. So, I got in it.

   It seems like something happened there in the fifties with the Dinosaur thing, and it really came to a head in the sixties with Marble and Bridge Canyon Dams…

   Well, of course there was controversy. When the Navajos extended their reservation to the edge of Marble Canyon, that gave the Navajos a little say in what might be done with Marble Canyon. And of course Marble Canyon had several good dam sites in it. But when it came time to discuss the dams, there was so much opposition raised by the Sierra Club, by people who didn’t want the river or the canyon bothered. Eventually it just sort of… just sort of died off. And people forgot about the dam sites, all twenty-three of them. And the survey work that had been done, stopped. We’ve never heard any more of it.

   What were the best reasons for building those dams?

   Well, electric power and the preservation of water to make sure that Hoover Dam remained full. See, the estimation was… No, with Glen Canyon it wouldn’t be true. [But the estimation was] it would take 500 years to fill Hoover Dam up with mud, silt. And if you go down the canyon now, at the headwaters, anything past Separation Rapids, you can almost touch the bottom, for miles, with a fish line. So it is filling up, about as fast as they thought it would. And they built Glen Canyon Dam. That stopped a lot of the silt.

   Within the state, a lot of people were for Marble and Bridge Dams?

   Oh yeah! A lot of people. But nobody knew much about it, outside of a handful of us. Even those people that served on the Streams Commission—I was one of the first members. I was about the only one that had ever seen the river up close. It was almost impossible to get people interested. For example, Havasu Dam, where they wanted to build that was a very natural dam site, but nobody knew where it was, nobody understood dam construction, so there wasn’t… Well, there was a lot of local interest because of water. The local interest just didn’t have the push to do it.

   What difference would those dams have made to Arizona?

   Wouldn’t have made any difference. I started out in favor of the dams—I wound up opposed to them.

   What changed your mind?

   Well, I just couldn’t see the great advantage. We had all the water we needed, about 840,000 acre feet. And while that’s not going to last us as long as we thought it would, I think it’ll last up ‘til 2000. And now we’ve done so much with desalinization that I think we can drop a tube in the Pacific Ocean and get the water we need. So water is no longer the big driving force that it’s always been. For the five civilizations who’ve lived in this valley before us, water was the deciding factor. When I was a boy, water was the deciding factor, but not any more. We have all the water we need.

   Did you ever read or hear of the book Cadillac Desert?


   What did you think of that?

   I didn’t think much of it.

   It kind of paints a different picture.

   No, I’ve lived here all my life, learned to swim in the Salt River. Water has gotten damn important. Here now, not for reclamation, but to drink. That’s all the water we need. Central Arizona Project is flowing out there. It was supposed to irrigate our land. In twenty years, there won’t be a farm left in this whole valley—it’ll be all residential land, and all they need is drinking water.

   …Hoover Dam probably would never be built today. But it was built in Black Canyon. I watched the dam being built. I have pictures I took of it. In fact, I took my wife across on a little boat, before they’d finished the dam, and we could see the thing being built. It’s been a very successful dam in lots of ways: It’s stored water, it’s produced power… I think that’s beneficial.

   But today it wouldn’t have been built?

   Well, they’re not going to build any more hydroelectric dams. The Congress listened to the people that were opposed to the dams and just decided “to hell with it.”

   You took another trip in 1964, with your son?

   Well, I took twenty-four boys from the YMCA, but I only took them through Glen Canyon. And then I took a trip with my children, and we went through to Diamond Creek. There used to be a road down there. Someone tried to build a hotel down there. It was still there in 1940, but I guess it’s all gone now.

   Nothing left now, yeah. We’ve got one vignette that you could shed light on: the story of the helicopter portage of Hance.

   Oh yeah. Well, that was the trip I took my children through the Canyon. Well, we got to… It was a big rocky rapid—I guess it was Hance. A friend of mine—God, I even forget his name. He’s living back in Louisiana someplace. He was a helicopter pilot and I think he was going to bring something down for us to eat. My youngest son had a very bright idea about running a river: he wanted to have the helicopter come down and set up camp for the night, and prepare the dinner. The next morning they would clean up the camp, have breakfast, fly out, get lunch, fly back, serve lunch, fly back and get stuff, come down and get ready for the night. Of course that would have cost somebody about $10,000, but that never happened.

   Well, we got to this Hance Rapids, and it got down to a question of portaging. The river was running quite low—I think it was probably running under 6,000 feet, and the rocks were very bad. So he said, “Hell, I’ll carry those boats over for you,” and by God, he did! He carried all the boats over, and I took pictures of it and sent it to the Bell Helicopter people and they never even wrote a letter back saying thank you. So that’s what happened over there—portaging a rapid by helicopter—never been done before, don’t think it’s been done since.

   Was there a lot of difference in that second trip? Did you notice differences?

   No, and I can tell you there’s no difference today. There’s only one new rapid, and that’s the great big one. Crystal. That’s the only new rapid. Lava Falls is still… Although the first time I went through it, I ran it, because the water was so low—there was no big wave, so you just went through it, no trouble. And that’s the whole story of the river. If you’re lucky… I think the best level to run that river is around 25,000. Now, you don’t always get that, but I think the modern runners like more water—and I don’t blame them, using those great big boats! because they’ll go through anything.

   The boat I used [on the most recent trip, in’93] was Hatch’s little boat, and it would carry about eight or nine people.

   That little snout boat.

   But it took the rapids very well. And I liked it because I couldn’t walk around the rapids, my legs are too bad. So I got to ride through.

   Before we turned the tape on, you were talking about how crowded it is on the river. We’re really wrestling with that now. They’re kind of stirring around, and they’re going to rewrite the Management Plan, just how they manage the river and stuff. And that’s a big concern of ours: How do you figure out how you’re going to run the river, how you’re going to run the Park?

   Oh, I think the way the river is being run today, is as well as it can be run. I couldn’t imagine where you could improve on it. The food is good, the toilet facilities are very well handled—and that was a big problem. Water is no problem. As I say, to me, it’s not a solvable problem, because anybody in this country—or anyplace—has the right to go down that river. And if nobody will take them, I’ve always said you could just go up there and do it yourself. Of course the park doesn’t like that, but they’d have a hard time trying to prosecute you for it.

   Well, it darned sure seems like the river and that whole experience is an important asset for the country, and the state.

   As I say, any American, any person, has the right to see our country. And if we start making rules about who can and who can’t see it, then we’re not America. We can complain all we want about “you don’t want that many people seeing it.” I don’t like so many people living in Phoenix! But I’m not going to do anything about it—I can’t! I’ve read about efforts to manage it, but I don’t know how you’d manage that trip any better. Don’t they limit it to 150 people a day now?


   I think that’s a hell of a lot of people, but if you can handle it, fine and dandy.

   What we’ve seen is only a fraction of what you’ve seen in terms of growth: everywhere you look in the state the population is kind of just going through the roof. And they’re having that problem on the Rim too, just with all these people visiting. We see this philosophical question coming up, when it comes to how you’re going to run the National Parks. And if the population continues to go up, do you have some kind of control, or…

   No question, we’re going to have to control the South Rim. Now how? I don’t want to see them close the El Tovar Hotel, or Bright Angel, or the little cabins—yet 4 million people will visit that canyon this year, and there’s only 400 places on the whole South Rim, including camping places, where people can stay. Now I think the ideas that I’ve heard, like keeping everything a distance back from the rim—I don’t know whether it’s ten miles or back where the Village is, back near the landing strip: but you can go up there in your car, leave it, and if you want to go to the Rim there’s an electric or gasoline transportation to go up there, and provide transportation all the way along, even west of Hermit’s Camp, and as far east as the Lookout Tower. That’ll take care of the people.

   But now, when you try to translate those people who want to go down the river, that’s another horse. And part of the other horse’s trouble is the superintendent. They just moved probably the best superintendent we have ever had up there. And that has a big bearing. Price’s wooden building burned down with all that good stuff in it. The building should never have been kept there in its state. What’s going to happen if the museum burns down? There’s an awful lot of stuff up there that needs to be done. And I tell you the truth, I would not feel happy leaving it entirely up to the whims of the National Park Service. I’ve known some people in the National Park business who love the work and did a lot of good for it. But I’ve known people that didn’t know their ass from a hot rock, about even taking care of people. I go up to the Rim, and what do I see? People eating lunch all over the lawn of the El Tovar Hotel. That shouldn’t be allowed. We run a train up there every day now from Williams. I think that’s wonderful. There’s the old Babbitt Store. What’s going to happen? One of these days it’ll go, burn down. They have a make-believe hospital. There’s just a lot of damned-good work needed to take care of all the people—4 million—that are visiting the south end of the Canyon. And if I were you guys, I’d make my voice real loud. I don’t know this new superintendent.

   Well, it’s like you say, there was a big loss when Chandler left, and even Davis before him.

   Well the river runners probably know more about that river and the Canyon than all the other people put together.

   That was kind of what we thought, and that’s why we started this little association.

   I know that. I remember old Dock Marston, and Dock took the trouble to learn the river, and then he took the trouble to run a power boat up the damned thing. I remember when he did that. As I say, I love that place, and you start pooping around with it, you’re going to have me on your hands too!

   You said something there: Dock Marston took the time and made the effort. It seems that the easier and the more convenient we make it for people to see, somehow a little something is lost. The more effort someone has to make, possibly they get more out of it.

   Well, one of the greatest things that could happen on the river trips, would be to have each company have someone very knowledgeable [guides]—I mean, who could point out every rock and tell the geologic background of that rock. Every age of geology is in that canyon, but one. And you find that one up east of the Lookout Tower on a little hill. People don’t know that the rocks in the Inner Gorge at one time formed a mountain chain higher than the present Alps. And those are interesting things. The first discovery of any evidence of living life is in there. The story of trying to move the deer from the North Rim to the South Rim: it’s a fantastic story. Airplanes landing: Ellsworth Kolb landed an airplane down on the Powell Plateau. Nobody remembers that! He did that around, I guess, 1913 or 1914.

   Was that an accident, or he just wanted to do it?

   No, he landed an old jenny down there. Nobody ever thought he’d make it out. By God, he took it off! I bet Belknap has something on that. And, oh, the story of water. The story about the trails. I think I’ve walked down every trail that they have, and some they didn’t have. The Nevills trip that I took, the first one, was triply-interesting, because we had people that could, “Oh, look at that bird! Well that’s a white heron, and you only find them here and there.” Or the geologist who could tell us every morning about the rocks.

   I remember an interesting story, something I tried: We were getting reports that the jets that flew over the Canyon—the fighter jets from Luke [Air Force Base] and Willie [Williams Air Force Base]—when they were breaking the sound barrier, it was shaking rocks loose, and the rocks were going to fill that canyon. So the next trip I took, I talked to Luke Field, and I said, “Look, I’m going to take a radio with me, and I’m going to call you guys, and when I call you, the next morning, I want you to come up with five F-100s and come right where I’m going to be, and just break the sound barrier. I want to see what happens.” So they came roaring down that canyon, “ba-boom, boom, boom, boom.” Not one pebble moved. So we put that thing to rest.

   That’s a good scientific experiment!

   Well, it was. People have often asked me around the state, “What’s your most beautiful spot in Arizona?” I said, “The falls that come out to form Tapeats Creek. If you’re interested, you can go up to Jacob’s Lake and you can follow a road down so far, and then you can walk to where this waterfall comes right out of the red rock, about forty degrees. And if you want to walk down to the river, you can. Well, not many people know about that, yet they can do it. That’s the most beautiful part of Arizona, to me.

   That’s great. Not many make the effort.

   Well, not many people want to make the effort.

   Well, they choose not to.

   But if you tell them the stories, then they want to do it.

   We have this problem, politically, now. There’s been kind of a mindset in government agencies for some time now, that they shouldn’t fraternize with the locals. The official take is that we’re kind of “the enemy” or something. They just don’t feel it’s right to get too close to us.

   Oh, I’d ignore them—I would. I know that attitude exists. I remember the trouble the Kolb brothers had. The Kolb brothers had trouble starting that photographic studio. The Park Service didn’t want it, because it was a business that they couldn’t control, because Kolb had built the house and it belonged to him, to do what he wanted.

   I’ve run into this thing at the Canyon where we’ve had any number of superintendents who just didn’t care. And things went on. I can remember people wanting to use the South Rim for snow skiing, and just walking with skis [cross-country skiing], and the times we had getting that permission! I remember when we built the first church up there on the Rim, and we had an awfully hard time getting the Grand Canyon people to approve it.

   Is that the Shrine of the Ages?

   That started it. When Howard Pyle used to go up there on Easter and have his Easter service on the Rim of the Canyon. They didn’t like that at all! But we finally got a man that liked it, so it made progress. I tell you, you have to almost get into politics to get around that. And that’s why you ought to get real friendly with your senators. You’ve got a guy named McCain—-he doesn’t know much about the Canyon, but he’s friendly. And Kyl I think will be friendly if he’s elected. I think all the members of our delegation would be helpful to you fellows.

   One of the stormiest periods in modern river running was up there in the 1970s. There was a controversy between motors and oars, removing the motors. It seems like you got involved in that a bit. The outfitters got you involved?

   No, we used a motor with Nevills’ trip in 1940, and it didn’t take long for us not to like it. It’s one thing to float down that river with the quietness, and then hear that putt-putt-putt-putt. So we didn’t use the motor much. I remember when you had that controversy, but when you’re taking that many people through, I don’t know how you’re going to do anything else. Frankly, I’d like to see motors forgotten—-just use the oars and go through.

   We’re really having to struggle with it right now, because they’re going to re-do this Plan. One of the questions is—-well, there are all these different issues—-one of them is that the private versus commercial use is a big thing. And the other is the overall use level. The question for us is, do we… Everybody pretty much agrees that we don’t want it to increase any more, but do we need…

   Well, you can’t control that. You can control it by… I’d keep it at 150. I’d never let it go above that. And if anything, I might even haul it back to 100—-not that it’ll make a lot of difference. But get real friendly with your Congresspeople. Because if they’re going to have to settle this—in the Senate and the House, that’s where you settle it—not up at the South Rim.

   Would you say the Canyon has had an effect on you personally?

   Well, once you’ve been in the Canyon and once you’ve sort of fallen in love with it, it never ends. I go to the Grand Canyon two or three times a year. I fly over it a lot. I’ve found a new natural arch up there. I’ve flown helicopters into all parts of the Canyon. So it’s a place that I like to go, and I go whenever I get the chance… it’s always been a fascinating place to me, in fact I’ve often said that if I ever had a mistress it would be the Grand Canyon.


   A detailed summary of Goldwater’s career and achievements would take up the rest of this issue. Suffice to say that—in more ways than one—he represents a high water mark for Arizona.

   He’s a busy man and he doesn’t beat around the bush, or slow down to ask himself what the party line is anymore. He calls em like he sees em and never looks back. We (Lew Steiger and Tom Moody) spent an hour with him last spring and went away wishing it could have been a week.

   He’s done several river trips. In 1940 he landed somewhere between 57 and 99 on the roll call of the first 100 river runners (about 73, he thinks). A diary he kept on his 1940 trip matured into a terrific book, Delightful Journey. Highly recommended for Canyon buffs.

   It was published in 1970, and at the end of its introduction he writes-

   “Delightful Journey is being published at this time primarily to honor Major John Wesley Powell... “
   For me, Powell’s name is inextricably linked with the river and the Grand Canyon. The water could stand for a symbol of time itself, fast-flowing through the ages; its canyons, many of them, still wild and unexplored; the bleaching rib cages of wrecked river craft scattered on sandbars; names of long dead explorers scratched through red sandstone on a cliff; sacred Indian mountains and ruined miners’ shacks visible nearby; ancient lava flows cooled and solidified into crystal-faceted platens on steep banks; and the rim a dazzling belt so far above that it seems unreal.
   “If you go through all this, the blue headwaters of Lake Mead will fan there ahead of you, welcoming you. To learn all that is to learn freedom and patience; and you learn these lessons by ranging yourself on the side of the river.
   “I like to think that all human effort takes place within the context of something permanent, like that river and its canyons.”