Feb. 26, 1919: The Grand Canyon becomes a national park

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019
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On Tuesday, the Grand Canyon celebrates a major milestone: 100 years as a national park.

The history of efforts to conserve the Grand Canyon pre-date even the creation of the National Park Service. The canyon was given Forest Reserve status in the 1890s. Then on Jan. 11, 1908, came the "first real measure of protection from uncontrolled development," according to the National Park Service. On that day, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the land a national monument.

On a visit to the canyon in 1903, Roosevelt had marveled at its grandeur and stressed the need to preserve it.

"The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison-beyond description; absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world," he said. "Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness."

It officially became a National Park on Feb. 26, 1919, three years after NPS was established. Today the vast canyon is one of the most visited parks in the National Park system, with about 5 million visitors a year.