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The Amazing Kolb Brothers of Grand Canyon

Roger Naylor’s new book celebrates adventuring photographers

"The Amazing Kolb Brothers of Grand Canyon", by Roger Naylor

"The Amazing Kolb Brothers of Grand Canyon", by Roger Naylor

Originally Published: June 30, 2017 3:15 p.m.

Travel writer Roger Naylor has released his latest book, The Amazing Kolb Brothers of Grand Canyon.

Ellsworth Kolb arrived at Grand Canyon in 1901 with younger brother Emery Kolb soon following. Pioneers in the fledgling tourism industry, they set up a tent at the head of the Bright Angel Trail and began photographing tourists as they clip-clopped into the canyon on muleback.

For nearly eight decades, these intrepid brothers explored and photographed Grand Canyon from rim to river.

The Kolbs dangled from ropes, clung to sheer cliff walls by their fingertips, climbed virtually inaccessible summits, ran seemingly impassable white-water rapids, braved the elements, and ventured into unknown wilderness -- all for the sake of a photo. Well, a photo and a thrill. Sometimes it was hard to tell which was more important.

Along the way, Ellsworth and Emery made the longest-running motion picture in American history and built a studio that’s become a Grand Canyon icon. 

It’s all captured in the new book, The Amazing Kolb Brothers of Grand Canyon. So much more than a typically dry history, the rambunctious Kolb boys leap off the pages in this engaging read. Published by the Grand Canyon Association, the 154-page book is packed with drama, perils, feuds, near-death experiences, a cast of the canyon’s most colorful residents and 190 of the famous Kolb photographs. This is an adventure story you must read to believe.

Roger Naylor is one of Arizona’s premier travel writers. His work appears weekly in the Arizona Republic. He has contributed to USA Today, Arizona Highways, Western Art & Architecture, Go Escape, Route 66 Magazine, Sedona Magazine and dozens more. He is the author of several books, including Boots & Burgers: An Arizona Handbook for Hungry Hikers, Arizona Kicks on Route 66 and Death Valley: Hottest Place on Earth. For more information, visit www.rogernaylor.com.