1903 | Grand Canyon

Notes from the Edge

Theodore Roosevelt asks us to think of the children.

In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which, so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to do one thing in connection with it, in your own interest and in the interest of the country—to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I was delighted to learn of the wisdom of the Santa Fe Railroad people in deciding not to build their hotel on the brink of the canyon. I hope you will not have a building of any kind—not a summer cottage, a hotel, or anything else—to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American if he can travel at all should see. We have gotten past the stage, my fellow citizens, when we are to be pardoned if we treat any part of our country as something to be skinned for two or three years for the use of the present generation, whether it is the forest, the water, the scenery. Whatever it is, handle it so that your children’s children will get the benefit of it. If you deal with irrigation, apply it under circumstances that will make it of benefit—not to the speculator who hopes to get profit out of it for two or three years—but handle it so that it will be of use to the homemaker, to the man who comes to live here and to have his children stay after him. Keep the forests in the same way. Preserve the forests by use; preserve them for the ranchman and the stockman, for the people of the Territory, for the people of the region round about. Preserve them for that use, but use them so that they will not be squandered, that they will not be wasted, so that they will be of benefit to the Arizona of 1953 as well as the Arizona of 1903.

Contributor

Theodore Roosevelt

From a presidential address. Afflicted with myopia and asthma as a child, Roosevelt trained himself to live “the strenuous life”—ranching cattle in Montana in 1884 and rounding up Rough Riders for the war in Cuba in 1898. As president of the United States in 1905, Roosevelt created the Forest Service, designating over 190 million acres as national wildlife land.