Kolb Brothers and Grand Canyon Pictorial Collection
Scope and Content
- Majority of material found within 1903-1946
Nineteenth century travelers had to disembark from transcontinental trains at Williams or Flagstaff, Arizona. Then, they endured a rough two-day stagecoach trip to arrive at the South Rim of the Canyon. In 1901, the Santa Fe Railroad developed a spur to the Grand Canyon, opening the way for increased commercial tourism.
Ellsworth Kolb arrived at the Grand Canyon in 1901, followed by his younger brother in 1902. They founded a photographic studio at the Bright Angel trailhead. At first, it was nothing more than a small cave in the side of the Canyon wall. Water for processing had to be hauled up from the Colorado River. With a blanket over the entrance, the cave served as a makeshift darkroom and lab until the first permanent structure was begun in 1904. That year the crude darkroom was replaced by a two-story wooden structure built on a 55 by 20 rock shelf ballasted out of the Canyon wall.
The Kolb brothers secured a prominent place in Grand Canyon history in 1912 with the completion of a boat trip down the Colorado River. While not the first to dare the rapids, the Kolbs were the first to record their adventures with a movie camera. After the river trip's completion and a trans-continental movie promotion tour, they returned to the Grand Canyon.
In 1915 the brothers completed a three-story addition (for living quarters) and a small showroom (part of the present auditorium). The addition of the auditorium allowed them to show their river movie to Grand Canyon visitors. The Kolbs also took pictures of people astride the famous Grand Canyon mules as visitors maneuvered their way up and down the Bright Angel Trail. The Kolbs' photography business flourished but their business partnership became strained after Emery married and began to raise a family. In 1924 the partnership dissolved. Ellsworth moved to Los Angeles, where he passed away in 1960. Emery continued to show the river movie, take pictures, and operate a gift shop until his death in 1976 at the age of 95.
uncounted items (3 boxes, 1 folder) : uncounted view books, photographic and photomechanical prints, postcards, stereoscopic prints
Language of Materials
Glimpses of the Grand Cañon of the Colorado, by Oliver Lippincott, held in CSWR, F788 .L7
- Finding Aid of the Kolb Brothers and Grand Canyon Pictorial Collection, 1903-1946
- Edited Full Draft
- CSWR staff
- © 2019
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid is in English
- Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.
Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository
University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131