December 1st, 2011, 09:43 PM
Robert Brewster Stanton (1846-1922) was a civil engineer who conducted a survey of the Colorado River to determine the possibility of building a railroad through the river’s canyons from the Green River in Utah to the Gulf of California. In 1889, hired by a Denver realtor named Frank M. Brown—who hoped to invest in a railroad opportunity—Stanton and a group of men, including Brown, attempted to traverse the Colorado River. But instead of using heavy wooden boats, as John Wesley Powell had done fifteen years prior, Brown decided the expedition should go light. The boats were fragile, the men inexperienced at rowing, and a fatal decision to go without life jackets resulted in the drowning deaths of Brown and two other men within the first few miles of entering Marble Canyon, generally considered to be the beginning of the Grand Canyon. Shaken, Stanton and the remaining crew climbed out of the canyon, but soon returned with heavier and deeper boats made of oak, and completed the survey in less than three months. But Stanton’s efforts never became a reality, as anyone who’s been to the Canyon can attest—there is no railroad in Grand Canyon.