One of the most colorful characters in Grand Canyon history was Captain John Hance. Born in 1840, he served in both the Confederate and Union armies and is thought to be the first non-Native American resident of the Grand Canyon. Arriving in 1883 he first attempted mining asbestos, but failed due to the expense of removing it from the canyon. He soon started giving tours, opening the first tourist trail in the Canyon in the late nineteenth century. He’s credited with carving a number of trails which often followed old American Indian paths.


John Hance loved the canyon and remained until his death in 1919. In his memory there’s a Hance Trail, Hance Creek, Hance Canyon, Hance Spring, Hance Mine, Hance Rapid, and a Hance’s Cove. He was famous throughout Arizona for his tall tales. In one, he stated that the Colorado River got so muddy that the only way to quench his thirst was to cut a piece of water off and chew it.