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Roger Weller, geology instructor

Colorado River
by Hailey Baltunis
Physical Geology
Spring 2015

The Art Green Legacy
 The Colorado River


“You tell Art Green that he and Goulding invented Northern Arizona, the Monument Valley, the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon”, Jack Williams, past governor of Arizona, said it best.  I am very fortunate to have such a rich family history in Northern Arizona.  My great-great grandfather, Arthur “Art” H. Greene\ was essential in pioneering the Colorado River and in creating access to the beauty of Northern Arizona.  “Art Greene was nationally known as a river runner, canyon explorer, businessman and developer of Wahweap Lodge on Lake Powell”, described The Arizona Republic newspaper in 1990.  My family was responsible for a multitude of lodges, marinas, and tours making the Colorado River, Lake Powell, and the Grand Canyon more accessible to the public.

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                        The Colorado River is the 6th largest river in the United States. It supplies water for over 30 million people, because of this importance it is one of the most controlled and studied rivers on Earth. It flows through 7 states, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, California, and Nevada. In 1914, at the age of 18, Art Greene began guiding people on the San Juan River (a tributary of the Colorado River). It wasn’t until 30 years later that Art began commercial river trips.

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They were the first men to power-operate excursion boats up the Colorado River to Rainbow Bridge. Taking almost ten hours to hike, these boat trips cut the time in half to see Rainbow Bridge. This land monument is a 290 ft tall arch that spans 257 ft over the river. The Rainbow Bridge formation is hundreds of millions years old. The base and arch are composed of Kayenta sandstone and Navajo sandstone. After millions of years of hardening sand dunes, the river sculpted dune to create this hardened rock arch. These first trips aided people such as photographer Herb McLaughlin, and writer Joyce Muench. In 1949, they guided a trip with the  staff of National Geographic Magazine. Relationships with customers grew.




            In 1950 Art Greene moved to the Vermillion Cliffs (on U.S. 89) and , with his family, lived in an old rock home. It was here that he built the Cliff Dwellers Lodge. It consisted of a lodge, restaurant, gas station and even a runway. Art’s son, Bill, flew in food and supplies. While operating the lodge, Art heard news that the federal government was planning to build Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River. Knowing that this would put him out of his river tour business, he acquired state grazing leases and moved his efforts to Lake Powell, starting Wahweap Lodge and Marina in 1964.

            The Glen Canyon Dam was finished in 1963. The plant generates more than 1.3 million kilowatts of electricity with each of the 40-ton steel shafts turning at 150 rpm, generating nearly 200,000 horsepower.When all eight generators are operating at full capacity, over 15 million gallons of water will pass through the power plant's penstocks each minute. The electricity is upgraded on a transformer deck from 13,800 volts to 230,000 and 345,000 volts for transmission to distant markets.


It took seventeen years for Lake Powell to fill. Lake Powell is the second largest man made lake in the United States. Lake Powell is 186 miles long and has 1,960 miles of shoreline, which is longer than the entire west coast of the continental United States. With a boat or other watercraft, there are many canyons that you can explore.

The Greene family was able to establish and publicize their businesses around Northern Arizona. Soon, politicians and even royalty came to tour the Colorado River. These growing relationships only lead to a higher tourism rate and more people coming to enjoy the beauties of Northern Arizona. Representative John Rhodes, interviewed by Lake Powell Chronicle, said “They have helped open up this fantastic country to around-the-world travelers and made every effort to make each visitor feel welcome”. Even celebrities from Hollywood were known to visit the area. The cast members of “Gunsmoke” wrote about being treated as “little kings” by the Greene Family.

Northern Arizona is home to an amazing natural beauty. I am proud to say that my family allowed this beauty to be seen and treasured. Art Greene once said, “Lake Powell will be the most popular vacation spot in the United States, but I’ll never live to see it.” Although he didn’t get to witness it, the Green family has left a true legacy.

Outside Links for more Information:







Works Cited

Crandell, Doug. "On Fire." Sun June 2013: 24-28. Web.

Fitsimmons, Pat. "This Is Your Life: Art Greene, Man of Vision." Lake Powell Chronicle [Page] 18 May 1983: 23. Print.

"GLEN CANYON DAM HISTORY & TOURS." Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell & Page, AZ. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.

Greene, Judi. "The Chronological History of the Arthur "Art" H. Greene, SR. Family." (2002): n. pag. Web.

"Page - Lake Powell Guide - The Official Lake Powell Guide." Page - Lake Powell Guide - The Official Lake Powell Guide. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.

Thomas, Bob. "'Mystery' Cabin Was Homesteader Hut." The Arizona Republic 18 Nov. 1990: T6. Print.

The Green Family Collection: photos and personal letters