Our friend, Elaine, loaned me this book recently and I read it with great interest. The Kolb Brothers are of course famous for their Grand Canyon exploits at the turn of the last century when running the Colorado River was an uncharted waterway. The introduction sets the stage nicely.
“The Kolb Brothers were rock-climbing, ledge-hopping, mule-chasing, river-running canyoneers. They were rash, nervy, and utterly fearless.”
“Ellsworth and Emery Kolb were daredevil adventurers drawn to the earth’s most glorious wound. When they landed at the edge of the Grand Canyon, they knew they were home. The boys were equal parts artists and athletes, a dizzying combination that pushed them toward increasingly creative ways to risk their necks.”
“The Kolbs dangled from ropes, clung to sheer cliff walls by their fingertips, climbed virtually inaccessible summits, ran seemingly impassible white-water rapids, braved the elements, and ventured into the wilderness – all for the sake of a photo.”
The boys fought the Forest Service, the Santa Fe Railroad, and the Fred Harvey Company to make their home and photographic studio at the Grand Canyon. In the end, they won, a testament to their willpower and perseverance. Roger Naylor, the author, also accounts for the lost honeymooners who took off to run the river and were never seen again.
This book also includes dozens of fascinating Kolb photographs from the early 1900s. The brothers sold these and other photos in albums at their studio on the edge of the Grand Canyon to visitors as well as presented their original motion-picture film to audiences for decades that chronicled their hair-raising adventures through the rapids of the Colorado River. They took the motion-pictures on tour to cities around the country and shared them with packed audiences.
The Amazing Kolb Brothers of Grand Canyon: Photographers, Adventurers, Pioneers is the fourth book by Roger Naylor that I have reviewed, all of them exceedingly well written and entertaining. Many are also useful guide books to Arizona’s backcountry. They include Boots and Burgers: An Arizona Handbook for Hungry Hikers, and Arizona Kicks on Route 66