“I have come to see the Grand Canyon of Arizona, because in that canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder, which, so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I shall not attempt to describe it, because I cannot.” Theodore Roosevelt, 1903
When given the opportunity to write an historical novella for Forget Me Not Romance’s Valentine Matchmaker Collection, I stayed with my Arizona theme and chose the Grand Canyon. Digging around in the history of Grand Canyon Village provided more intriguing characters, political intrigue and setting details than I could ever hope to use in one story!
Grand Canyon became a protected forest reserve in 1894, and then a national monument in 1908 due in large part to a visit by Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 (and later in 1911). Incredibly resilient settlers had already joined the Native peoples in eeking out a living from this beautiful but challenging setting. Once little more than a tent city, Grand Canyon Village became the center of political tensions.
In Teddy Roosevelt’s 1903 speech, he mentioned his friend and fellow Rough Rider, local legend Bucky O’Neill, a driving force in bringing train service to the edge of the canyon. But Bucky was only one of many larger-than-life characters. By the turn of the century, these tenacious pioneers had long been mining, trading, and running their own primitive tourism businesses. Families survived with very limited access to fresh water (For decades, Grand Canyon Village depended on water delivered by train.)
Yet, with all the fascinating history to explore, I picked 1914 because of Architect Mary Colter.
A most determined, and independent woman, Mary Colter took a job as an interior designer for the Fred Harvey Company. (The Fred Harvey Company’s impact on Americana would be a whole ‘nuther post). Fred Harvey wanted to provide first class hotels, restaurants and train stations for the booming tourism trade. As my WHY NOT hero reiterated, they were out to civilize the West!
After various creative jobs, and putting herself through architecture school, Mary Colter was in the right place to become a Fred Harvey employee in 1901. During 1914, Colter oversaw the design and build of two Grand Canyon icons—Lookout Studio and Hermit’s Rest, after her earlier creation, Hopi House. Her accomplishments are quite impressive, but maybe more so for a woman of that era.
Frederick Whittlesey designed El Tovar, the village’s first big business hotel, to have a European chalet feel. Mary Colter instead celebrated a pure North American style—partly Native American, Spanish Colonial and Rustic. She had a great influence on what we now call ‘National Park’ style.
Grand Canyon Village’s political drama altered forever in 1919 when it became a National Park, officially ending any private development. But the area’s success as a tourist destination stood on the infrastructure put in place by the area’s rugged pioneers who built trails, wells, makeshift hotels and brought the railroad to the edge of the canyon.
My own trips to the Grand Canyon will never be forgotten. I was thrilled to eat in a Harvey House restaurant, stay in National Park lodging, watch sunrises and sunsets, mule trains, ravens and visitors with wide-eyed wonder that mirrored my own. I’m thrilled to have been able to fictionalize the Canyon’s resilient individualism and early entrepreneurs as well as pay homage to the incredible Mary Colter. Arizona has a special place in my heart. WHY NOT is one of four novellas celebrating this unique state, including SAGUARO SUNSET with its connections to the WNPA (Western National Parks Association) and a sweet ending set in the spectacular Saguaro National Park in Tucson.
Thank you, Amanda, for inviting me to be part of your tribute to the National Park system!
About the Book
Love Puts These Two On the Edge!
Grand Canyon, 1914
Society girl Amber Wynott’s wintry escape to the Grand Canyon provides a chance to pursue her dream and prove she has what it takes to be a successful architect. It doesn’t take long to realize the incredible scenery can’t hide the simmering anger between ‘railroad money’ and the struggling locals.
Which side is master builder Stone Morrison on?
Amber has met her match in the handsome, hard-headed man. He’s been directed to keep an eye on her, but when iron meets iron—oh the sparks! As their unlikely old matchmaker tells them, pride goes before a fall, and this is a bad place to fall. Will danger finally knock some sense into the pair?
Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, a judge for The Grace Awards, and serves on the board of Bridges Ministry in Seneca Falls, NY. She is published with WhiteFire Publishing, Forget Me Not Romances, and contracted with Journey Fiction. Debra works as a program assistant at Cornell University, and enjoys her family and grandchildren, obsessively buying fabric, watching British programming and traveling with her childhood friends.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B018QCI2AS
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Debra-E-Marvin-433266640199533
Group Blog- Inkwell Inspirations: http://www.inkwellinspirations.com/
Debra would like to bless two readers with an ebook copy of Why Not. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Giveaway is open internationally. Ends 4/28/17 at 11:59 PM.
Click here to enter.