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“Fort George BTE, June 18th1913

Dear Grace

Just a couple of lines this picture shows a scow shooting the Grand Canyon. I do not know who’s it is but is a good picture, as I have seen some go through I am (word I can’t decipher) am going back tomorrow noon I left GC a week ago Saturday. I got seven bears this spring.

(Can’t decipher initials) Mile 90 B6 C/O A E Griffin”

The front of the card says GRAND CANYON, so was listed on eBay as a vintage postcard from Arizona, which is a natural assumption. However, a bit of google research about Fort George led me to British Columbia and the Grand Canyon of the Fraser River.

When I saw the card, I was surprised at the idea of scows bringing other, smaller boats down the Colorado River in the actual Grand Canyon. I knew that people had journeyed down the river, but couldn’t figure out how this photo fit in with The Grand Canyon.

And, so, it is not The Grand Canyon, but is one of the canyons called Grand Canyon. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I lived in Montana for a time and spent a good bit of that in Yellowstone Park, which also has a Grand Canyon – there named – The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Googling “Grand Canyon” led me to another grand canyon, this one in China.

Having said all of that, there is only one true “Grand Canyon”, which is in northern Arizona. I find the sense of traveling down through time, through the layers and layers of rock, mind-bending. As one descends, time is rolling back, incrementally and epically at the same time.

Some layers are former sea floors, cemented through pressure, time and aridity, some are volcanic. Animals, ecosystems, climate and geographic location all changed through time, but much of this was recorded in the rocks. One of the great mysteries seen in the Grand Canyon, but found world wide, is called the Great Unconformity. As I read about the Grand Canyon, I find the mystery of what’s called the Great Unconformity, a place in the rock record that currently defies explanation.

It seems that between 100 million and 1 billion years of rock is missing from the middle of the Grand Canyon, as is the case all over the world. What does this mean? There should be layers of rock there, but somehow, they are not. How do geologists know this? Fossils or absence of fossils, types of rock. The Grand Canyon shows us rocks that are 250 million years old on top of rocks that are 1.2 billion years old. WOW.

Layers of the Grand Canyon show us times when the area was shallow sea, sand dunes, muddy coastal plains. Life, from worm-like creatures to small shelled creatures, to ferns, reptiles and dragonflies bigger than many familiar birds are all found in the fossil records of the Canyon.

I remember hiking to the bottom and back – each layer explained by my college geology professor. But, what vividly inhabits my mind’s eye was much more than that. It is the otherworldly sense of sheer scale at the beginning, followed by the marked and extraordinary change as one travels down each layer, realizing that this IS time on Earth.

So, even though my postcard writer and his Grand Canyon, is not my Grand Canyon, he led me down the path once again to the Grandest Canyon of them all.

Until the next trip led by a writer and a reader from long ago.


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