Festival of Books
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National Parks
The Grand Canyon, just as the Kolb brothers pictured it
The Grand Canyon, just as the Kolb brothers pictured it

They were just a couple of greenhorns from Pittsburgh, but the Kolb brothers knew the greatest photo op in the West when they saw it. It was 1902. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway had just begun service to the Grand Canyon. The Kolbs gaped at the South Rim and bought the only photo studio for miles around. Then they set up shop at the head of the Bright Angel Trail, snapping tourists on muleback. Then as now, the saddled-up tourists and their mules would clip-clop down the switchback trail into the vast chasm, denying vertigo, approaching infinity. By the time those tourists returned that night to the rim, the Kolbs would have prints to sell them — proof of the...

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