Stories From Grand Canyon National Park
As Shown in Penny Post Cards
From the Collection of Thomas Alan Ratz



During the first decade of this century, local politician and entrepreneur, Ralph Cameron, owned the toll rights to the Bright Angel Trail. At that time, the Bright Angel was the only improved route into the canyon from the South Rim railhead and tourist accomodations at Grand Canyon Village.

In order to provide park visitors with an alternative way of experiencing the inner canyon, the Santa Fe Railroad / Fred Harvey Hospitality Company constructed the Hermit Trail in 1913.

Most of these post cards were produced and sold by Fred Harvey to promote the trail and their inner-canyon tourist resort, Hermit Camp. The text below is copied from original post card captions and Fred Harvey advertising brochures from the period between 1910 and 1930. Additional comments are in italics.


Sunrise From Hermit Trail
Grand Canyon, Arizona

Until recently, the traveler who desired to explore the depths of the Grand Canyon had little choice in trails, and those who feared great heights and sheer precipices were at times anxious...

Now there is a wide bridal path - it can hardly be called a trail - of comfortable grade and with a substantial wall on the outer edge leading into the Canyon at one of its most beautiful points. This is the only trail with a southern exposure for the first thousand feet at top, thereby rendering it comparatively free from cold winds and snow. The lower section opens into the main Canyon along Hermit Creek, with an easy grade to the Colorado River.

Hermit Point
(1908 Detroit Publishing)

"To outer senses there is peace,
A dreamy place on either hand
Deep silence in the shadowy land
Deep silence where the shadows cease."

The trail is a marvel of corkscrew convolutions, gimleting its way down the red abdominal gash of a canyon to the very gizzard of the world. The view of the Canyon from Hermit is one grand panorama. Away from the scenes of human activity, on this point one may stand isolated, and see as far as the range of vision permits, an endlessly varied series of rock formation, painted with every color known to the palette.

Heart of The Canyon
The Hermit Trail

The Grand Canyon is not a mere cleft. It is a terrific trough, 6,000 to 7,000 feet deep, ten to thirteen miles wide, and hundreds of miles long.

It is peopled with hundreds of peaks taller than any mountain east of the rockies, yet not one of them with its head as high as your feet, and all ablaze with such color as no Eastern or European landscape ever knew; even in the Alpen-glow, as you sit upon the brink, the divine scene shifter gives you a new canyon every hour. With each degree of the sun's course, the great countersunk mountains you have been watching fade away and new ones, as terrific, are carved by the westering shadows.

Below Trail Top Gulch
On The Hermit Trail

The upper part of the Hermit Trail leads down into Hermit Basin on the western slope, past Trail Top Gulch, Mesa Eremita, the White Zigzags and Big Jim Springs.

Just above this picture is where the trail descending from Hermits Rest first leaves the "Gulch" and enters the open Canyon. It is prone to washouts from the gulch, a major side drainage. This section was rebuilt by the Grand Canyon Trail Crew in 1998. Work included replacement of water bars and the reconstruction of retaining walls.

Ramp Through The Toroweap
Near Head of Hermit Trail

There are really two canyons, one above the other. The first, the upper one, riven from the carboniferous limestone, and the homogeneous sandstone is that Canyon we know from picture. Out of this soft formation has been chiseled by the gods those miraculous forms of beauty, the temples and towers and turrets that are characteristic. At the rim, this Canyon is about thirteen miles wide and 4,000 feet deep.

The other Canyon, below, is the chasm in the granite through which the river runs. Compared with the upper Canyon, it is a mere rift 1,500 feet deep, with walls nearly perpendicular.

Through Coconino Sandstone
Into Hermit Basin

This portion or the trail features cobblestone pavement. The Coconino Sandstone is grey color. The artist who hand-colored this picture added incorrectly some of the redish tones found lower down in the Supai Sandstone.

Nearing the bottom of the Coconino, on your left, a large smooth slab of sandstone contains a series of fossil footprints. These are at the end of a long, well-cobbled stretch of trail - just before the trail makes an abrupt right turn. It is not known if the tracks were made by reptiles or amphibians. During the 1920's, thousands of pounds of specimens were quarried here, then packed out by mule and sent to museums in Washington D.C.

Near The Junction of Hermit and Dripping Springs Trails

At the point where the red sandstone begins, the Hermit connects with the Waldron and the Dripping Spring Trails to the southern and western rims.

The Waldron turns off first - at the base of the Coconino. Further down is the trail to Dripping Springs - just before the Hermit starts its descent through the Supai.

A Side Trip To Dripping Springs

The Dripping Springs, a thousand feet down below the rim, come out from an overhanging ledge of solid rock and drip down into a natural basin. The water is pure and cool and invigorating. The views near the springs are of incomparable beauty.

The spur trail to Dripping Springs is easy to follow. From the junction it is 1 1/2 miles to the springs. Afraid of heights? In places the trail feels like it is right at the edge of the cliff. The trail winds in and out of 3 side drainages before arriving at the springs. The basin is small - about 3 feet around. The water here must be treated. From the Hermit trailhead to Dripping Springs is a 3 mile hike - or a total of 6 miles round trip.

More about Dripping Springs and the Boucher Trail

> Continue to Santa Maria Springs, Cathedral Stairs and Hermit Camp

Jump Ahead to Hermit Creek and the Inner Gorge

Drive the Hermit Rim Road and see Hermit's Rest

Special Thanks to the Grand Canyon National Park Museum Collection
P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023