This section is from the book "Grand Canyon Of The Colorado River - John L. Stoddard's Lectures", by John L. Stoddard. Also available from Amazon: John L. Stoddard's Lectures 13 Volume Set.
The San Francisco Mountain.
About the hour of noon we reached a lunch-station at which the stages, going to and from the Caņon, meet and pass. The structure itself is rather primitive; but a good meal is served to tourists at this wayside halting-place, and since our appetites had been sharpened by the long ride and tonic-giving air, it seemed to us the most delicious of repasts. The principal object of one of the members of our party, in making the journey described in these pages, was to determine the advisability of building a railroad from Flagstaff to the Caņon. Whether this will be done eventually is not, however, a matter of vital interest to travelers, since the country traversed can easily be made an almost ideal coaching-route; and with good stages, frequent relays of horses, and a well-appointed lunch-station, a journey thus accomplished would be preferable to a trip by rail.
Night had already come when we arrived at our destination, known as Hance's Camp, near the border of the Caņon. As we drove up to it, the situation seemed enchanting in its peace and beauty; for it is located in a grove of noble pines, through which the moon that night looked down in full-orbed splendor, paving the turf with inlaid ebony and silver, and laying a mantle of white velvet on the tents in which we were to sleep. Hance's log cabin serves as a kitchen and dining-room for travelers, and a few guests can even find lodging there; but, until a hotel is built, the principal dormitories must be the tents, which are provided with wooden floors and furnished with tables, chairs, and comfortable beds. This kind of accommodation, however, although excellent for travelers in robust health, is not sufficiently luxurious to attract many tourists. The evident necessity of the place is a commodious, well-kept inn, situated a few hundred feet to the rear of Hance's Camp, on the very edge of the Caņon. If such a hotel, built on a spot commanding the incomparable view, were properly advertised and well-managed, I firmly believe that thousands of people would come here every year, on their way to or from the Pacific coast - not wishing or expecting it to be a place of fashion, but seeking it as a point where, close beside a park of pines, seven thousand feet above the level of the sea, one of the greatest marvels of the world can be enjoyed, in all the different phases it presents at morning, noon,and night, in sunshine, moonlight, and in storm.
Our Tent At Hance's Camp.
Early the next morning I eagerly climbed the little knoll at the foot of which our tents were located, for I well knew that from its summit I should see the Caņon. Many grand objects in the world are heralded by sound: the solemn music of Niagara, the roar of active geysers in the Yellowstone, the intermittent thunder of the sea upon a rocky coast, are all distinguishable at some distance; but over the Grand Caņon of the Colorado broods a solemn silence. No warning voice proclaims its close proximity; no partial view prepares us for its awful presence. We walk a few steps through the pine trees from the camp and suddenly find ourselves upon the Caņon's edge. Just before reaching it, I halted for a moment, as has always been my wont when approaching for the first time any natural or historic object that I have longed for years to look upon. Around me rose the stately pines; behind me was a simple stretch of rolling woodland; nothing betrayed the nearness of one of the greatest wonders of the world. Could it be possible that I was to be disappointed? At last I hurried through the intervening space, gave a quick look, and almost reeled. The globe itself seemed to have suddenly yawned asunder, leaving me trembling on the hither brink of two dissevered hemispheres. Vast as the bed of a vanished ocean, deep as Mount Washington, riven from its apex to its base, the grandest Caņon on our planet lay glittering below me in the sunlight like a submerged continent, drowned by an ocean that had ebbed away. At my very feet, so near that I could have leaped at once into eternity, the earth was cleft to a depth of six thousand six hundred feet - not by a narrow gorge, like other Caņons, but by an awful gulf within whose cavernous immensity the forests of the Adirondacks would appear like jackstraws, the Hudson Palisades would be an insignificant stratum, Niagara would be indiscernible, and cities could be tossed like pebbles.