Recent Woman's History in the Grand Canyon



Georgie White (1911-1992)

Georgie White was a pioneering but controvercial figure. She was one of the first female river guides and ran her own guiding business for 45 years. She introduced rubber boats (shown above) into the Grand Canyon, and this was a controversal decision as it raised the number of people who could go down the canyon.

After WW2 rubber boats became accessable to the public, and Georgie capitalized on the new boats. Dories, hard wooden boats, were the dominant water craft in the canyon. They were famous for their eleagance, but they had lmited passanger capacity. Georgie started to lash together the rubber water crafts (shown above) creating large floating platoons nicknamed G-rigs. She also introduced easy access tours though the Grand Canyon. Her river trips were about $300.00 for 10 days. If the stories are true she would offer unlabled canned goods for lunch and simple dinners to keep costs down. All of this made her unpopular with other guides who wanted to keep the canyon prisinte with minimal tours.

Brash, fierce, and pioneering Georgie White always did what ever she wanted. Either by recklessly entering into a primarily male dominated job or introducing thousands of people to the canyon she did with plenty of pizzazz. She was always recognizable since she wore a leopard print and always had a coors light in hand. She could be found on rivers until she was diagnosed with cancer in 1981, and she died the next year. A controvercial figure, but an important one to introduce a new generation of women in the Grand Canyon.

 

Katie Lee (1919-2017)

Arizona native, Katie Lee, is famously known for her folk music and music career. She recorded 14 original albums and performed around the country. After a hiking trip with friends in 1953 her life changed dramatically. She fell in love with Glen Canyon; it is said that the breezes were like voices speaking to her within the canyon walls.

The construction of Glen Canyon Dam threatened this sanctuary and she became a fierce advocate for the canyon which was on the verge of being flooded. The dam along the Colorado River would create what is known today as Lake Powell Reservoir. Referred to as the “Desert Goddess of Glen Canyon,” she took pictures of herself within the twists and turns of the slot canyons which would later become infamous.

Her experiences as an activist are chronicalled in All My Rivers are Gone: A Journey of Discovery through Glen Canyon. Although the dam was built and flooded out Glen Canyon, her ruthless determination and admiration for the Southwest shed light on the beauty that was unfortunately lost. Katie Lee used her voice to protect the unique landscape and dedicated her life to environmentalism.

Christine Lehnertz (present)

The park service is a much more diverse place than it used to be. Polly Patraw led the way for more women to become rangers and today women encompass a wide range of positions in the park service. Christine Lehnertz is currently the superintendent at Grand Canyon National Park. She began her career with NPS in 2007 at Yellowstone National Park and came to Grand Canyon in 2016.  

She has worked hard to improve the moral within the park and create a more inclusive and diverse environment. Women still only make up around 37% of the workforce according to a 2016 survey. Lehnertz is currently changing the culture at Grand Canyon. Her presence and efforts are expanding the ideas of what is means to be a woman in the park service and allowing more women to take on leadership roles.


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