Saturday, May 27, 2017

Old iron stuff and who made it ... or How I got from the Grand Canyon to Jamestown

I fell down the rabbit hole. I'll admit I'm not much of a scholar.  Takes too much attention to detail.  Plus there's all that footnoting and bibliography that has to be dealt with.  As anyone who actually knows me, primarily my children will tell you, I'm much more likely to just pull it out of my pocket. (and yes, I did clean that statement up so I could appeal to a wider audience..........?) The three of you who found this blog can go ahead and share it with your friends. 

Where was I?  Oh yeah...the rabbit hole.  Actually I didn't fall so much as throw myself in.  A week or so ago I hiked from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to Phantom Ranch and back up.  South Kaibab down.  Bright Angel up.  I had a great time and learned a massive amount[1] and really just want to go back.  NOW.  I have thanked the appropriate people in the footnotes.[2]

Anyway, part of the Grand Canyon experience is recent history and that includes Mary Colter[3], the Fred Harvey Company[4], the need for water[5], El Tovar[6], mining[7], telephones[8], and transportation[9].  This is a partial list, but you know, the junk I'm interested in, in an everyday sort of way.  And I was asked questions. I had no answers.  Perhaps there are no answers, but that is what I want to find out.  I don't know who did the metalwork in El Tovar, or for Bright Angel Lodge[10], or for that matter any of the other metalwork.  My task, as I see it, is to try to discover what I can about the metalwork of the Grand Canyon.  

So here I am.  Deep in the rabbit hole with very little information about the things I was originally looking for.  As yet I have few answers to the questions about the Grand Canyon, but I did find this.

These are architectural fragments from excavations at Jamestown, Virginia.  The excavations took place in 1934 and 1935, Jamestown Island Colonial National Monument. [11]  The excavation uncovered fragments of old wrought iron hardware.  One of the two buildings was thought to be a warehouse.  It was long and narrow, near the shore and, of course, erected in the 17th century.  Not much of it remained.  The other was a house built by Edward Champion Travis after 1755.  It is possible it stood until 1803. 

This is the description from the original report filed of the hardware in the house. I wish I could touch it.

Hardware from the house

Hardware from the house

Picture of hardware from the house

This is the description of the warehouse.  

Hardware from the warehouse. There were no pictures.

The thing is, there are records of blacksmiths in colonial Virginia. I am hoping the same is true of the Grand Canyon.  I will keep searching and will keep posting asides as well.  This will be a long and winding road. 

As I  discover more, I will share it with my fan...Hi Bob!  How's the family?  If anyone else stumbles on this, ...hey! How's it going?  I hope you enjoyed this and come back ....please.

Now back to work.

[1] The hike was with the Grand Canyon Field Institute and was lead by a geologist named Brian Gootee with the assistance of Thea Gavin who is a poet.  They had so much information about the canyon.  Historical information from geological to original occupants to later occupant, as well as, an enormous amount of knowledge about the plants, animals and almost anything you could think of really in and around the canyon. 
[2] In addition to Brian and Thea (you should look them up, although I could make them links to themselves) I want to thank the rest of the very small staff at GCFI and my fellow hikers. 
[3] MaryColter was an architect and designer who worked for The Fred Harvey Company and the Sante Fe Railroad and did a lot of work at the Grand Canyon, including designing Phantom Ranch.  This is the Wikipedia link to information on her but look further.  She was interesting.
[4] TheFred Harvey Company was basically a hospitality company that worked with the Santa Fe Railroad to create restaurants and hotels along the rail lines and in the rail stations.  Again this is a linkto the Grand Canyon Lodges page.  It has a bit about Fred Harvey.  Again...this stuff is interesting.  Go look it up.
[5] The history of water in the desert and the history of water at the Grand Canyon are way too complicated for this footnote but as part of my process and my look into technology at the Canyon, I will be revisiting this topic.
[6] ElTovar is a former Harvey House.  It has an incredible history and is actually probably the place where I found the rabbit hole.  There is metalwork and part of this is trying to find out who did it.
[7] Mining is a huge part of the history of the Grand Canyon.  On the hike down the south Kaibab, Brian showed us a breccia pipe.  This one was radioactive which I learned after I peed on it.  Hey, it's hiking.
[8] The trans-canyon telephone line is another story I will follow while here in the rabbit hole.  All I will say at this point is it in the National Register of Historic Places. 
[9] All the ways that people arrived at the Grand Canyon and traveled the Canyon are fascinating.  Again, you will have to wait for this.
[10]Virginia L. Gratton Mary Colter Builder Upon the Red Earth.(1992)  There are some artisans who worked with Mary Colter who are named.  Earl Altaire painted furniture for La Fonda in Santa Fe. Olive Rush did murals and painted glass.  Colter used a master carpenter named E.V. Birt.  Arnold Ronnebeck did sculptured tiles.   Dorothy Stauffer did a mural.  Guy Gowan was a ceramic sculptor who worked with Colter on the Fred Harvey tableware.  Colter's secretary was named Sadie Rubins.  Fred Greer painted decorative motifs of sand paintings.  Fred Kabotie painted Hopi Room in the Watchtower.  Hildreth Meiere painted murals in Kansas City Union Station.  Interestingly the tinsmith goes unnamed, and the only mention of a blacksmith is in reference to aprons being used to upholster furniture.
[11] Architectural Remains, Unit B, Sub-unit 62, Jamestown, James City County, VA. Library of Congress. (1933)  HABS VA,48-JAM,4- and HABS VA,48-JAM,3-