Home Archived May 12, 2018

Stanton Repeat Photography

Mile 98.2, Crystal Rapid, Across Canyon View from River Right (Stake 1467)

Viewing Grand Canyon Site 64 of 119 Return to Main Stanton Index

Stake 1467, 9 February 1890 View Larger Image
9 February 1890
Stanton photographed this view of Crystal Rapid at about 11:45 AM on a day when the expedition paused to allow Harry McDonald to hike out Crystal Creek, leaving the expedition, and for the remaining crew to make repairs and climb the Tower of Ra without ropes. This view is one of four that documents changes in Crystal Rapid. Flow through the rapid is left to right, and the deepest part of the rapid appears at the bottom of the view. The rocks in the river are the eroded remains of a debris fan emanating from Slate Creek, the canyon entering at right center. One notable boat wreck occurred in these rocks, when the Tadje-Russell expedition of 1915 stuck and eventually sank a boat here. This eventually led to their abandonment of the Ross Wheeler at Bass Canyon about 9 miles downstream.
Photo credit: Robert B. Stanton, 57-RS-481, courtesy of The National Archives

Stake 1467, 1 February 1990 View Larger Image
1 February 1990
The repeat view was made in a light rainstorm at 12:20 PM. The background cliffs are partially obscured by low clouds. A debris flow in December 1966, one of the largest and certainly most notorious side canyon floods in Grand Canyon history, completely changed this rapid, which then changed again during the 1983 flood. The deepest part of the rapid in 1890 has been filled in with large boulders, many of which are larger than 12 feet in diameter. The constriction of the channel, which forced flow to the left, changed Crystal Rapid from a negligible rapid to the crux obstacle to navigation in the Inner Gorge. Note the lack of substantive changes in rocks that line the left, or Slate Creek, side of Crystal Rapid; this strongly suggests that the 1966 debris flow did not cross and dam the Colorado River. Although the riparian vegetation along the river is dormant in this winter view, the tamarisk and other species are sparse enough to clearly see the boulders on the debris fan.
Photo credit: Tom Brownold

Stake 1467, 22 September 2010 View Larger Image
22 September 2010
The tamarisk and arrowweed, leafed out in the warm season, growing along the debris fan now partially obscure the view of the rapid. The water level is lower than it was when the 1990 image was taken, with some of the boulders at the head of the rapid partially exposed and some of the rapid’s features looking quite different. Some of those differences were caused by dam releases in 1996, 2004, and 2008 and a small side canyon flood in 1998, which moved some rocks around on the right shoreline and along the right side of the rapid. In the 20 years between matches, the rapid has become considerably easier to run.
Photo credit: John Mortimer

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