John Hance

Though we have no official date, it is thought John Hance was the first Anglo inhabitant and tour guide at Grand Canyon. By the mid-1880s he had constructed a primitive trial from the rim to Sockdolager Rapid and a rustic tent camp near Grandview Point. For $12 a day visitors anticipated a “hike” on the canyon’s first below rim route, venison steaks for dinner (with venison stew for breakfast), a blanketed cot in an army wall tent for comfort, and tall tales from a man who was a legend in his own time. Hance became a prospector and miner after Bill Ashurst located the Wool Claim, later called “the Hance asbestos mine,” but he never made money prospecting. When the railroad arrived at the rim in 1901, Hance moved to Grand Canyon Village where he was housed and fed by the Fred Harvey company in return for telling stories until he fell out with the company in 1914. From then until his death in 1919 he camped near the head of Bright Angel Trail and continued to spin his tales.

Captain John Hance and two mules on New Hance (Red Canyon) Trail, Grand Canyon
Emery Kolb Collection NAU.PH.568.9162