“Marble Canyon” Newest Grand Canyon Dory Dedicated to Martin Litton
By George Wendt3 Min. Read
On June 11th, 2015 an intimate group gathered at Lees Ferry for the dedication of our newest dory and the maiden voyage of the “Marble Canyon.” The boat was handcrafted by veteran Grand Canyon Dory boatman, Duffy Dale, with the help of Sean Bothman, as a tribute to the late Martin Litton. Before her maiden voyage, I had the honor of sharing a few words:
All of us are privileged to be here today, in no small part because of one man’s vision and his refusal to compromise. Those of you headed downstream today are about to embark on one of the most memorable adventures of your life, through the grandest canyon on Earth. Without Martin Litton’s will and determination to protect it from proposed dams in the 1960’s, the Grand Canyon could have faced the same fate as Glen Canyon just upstream from where we stand today. The drowning of Glen Canyon delivered a profound sense of loss to me, and with it the realization that such wild places need to be shared, preserved and protected for future generations. Martin knew this better than anyone and with the help of the late David Brower and the Sierra Club, he successfully made the case that the Grand Canyon was worth saving.
Anyone who knew Martin would tell you he wouldn’t want us to make a big deal out of his passing. He’d rather us be doing something to stand up for what is right. “Nature has its rights,” he once said. “It has a right to be here untrammeled, unfettered. Man doesn’t have to screw everything up.” In Kevin Fedarko’s book, The Emerald Mile, which hopefully all of you have read, Kevin writes that Martin “inaugurated a tradition of naming every craft after a natural wonder that, in his view, had been heedlessly destroyed by the hand of man-‘to remind us of places we’ve destroyed without any necessity, so that maybe we’ll think twice before we do it again.'”
The tradition evolved over the years to include names of places that were only threatened by human development or activities, not yet destroyed and absolutely worth fighting for. Today, we’re here to dedicate the newest boat in the Grand Canyon Dories fleet, the “Marble Canyon,” in Martin’s honor and to his lasting legacy. May it be a reminder to all of us that conservation is a fight that is never over. Even this place – the crown jewel of the National Park system and the Grandest Canyon on the planet – faces continued threats from development and mining and it’s up to all of us to ensure it’s protected now and for future generations.
I wish Martin’s widow Esther could have been here today, but unfortunately she wasn’t able to make the trip. We’re thrilled, though, to have two of Martin’s original guides, Andre Potochnik and Moqui Johnson, here with us today, along with Regan and Ote Dale, who have made incredible contributions over the years in maintaining our proud dory heritage. I’d also like to recognize Duffy Dale as the guy responsible for building this fine boat. I can’t thank them and all of our talented river guides enough for the role they play in continuing to honor the legacy of Martin Litton and Grand Canyon Dories.
To our guests, I hope you all have a wonderful trip, and to all, thank you very much for joining us for this dedication ceremony and remembrance of Martin Litton.