Glen Canyon has been called “the place no one knew.” This remote stretch of Colorado River watershed had few visitors and even fewer settlers. But the number of those visiting by way of boat or raft was on the rise by the 1950s when the canyon’s fate was determined, so that there were enough admirers to mourn when, in 1963, the gates of Glen Canyon Dam were closed and this desert oasis began to disappear under the rising waters of Lake Powell.

Glen Canyon at Hidden Passage, taken by geologist William C. Bradley in 1958

Lower Glen Canyon, visited by George Barfoot in August 1952

The Tapestry Wall in upper Glen Canyon, displaying desert varnish from periodic storm water over sandstone. Photo by Howard Foulger, May of 1951

In the 90-plus years following the first surveys by John Wesley Powell, enough photographic imagery of Glen Canyon had been produced to preserve the memory of what was lost. The J. Willard Marriott Library is the repository of several collections of such imagery, and it is now available through the Digital Library. Come travel back in time, and join the ranks of those who know Glen Canyon as it was.

With the filling of Lake Powell behind Glen Canyon Dam in the 1960s, Gregory Natural Bridge disappeared beneath its waters. But when the lake level drops, the top of the opening may still be seen.

Cathedral in the Desert,  considered by some the most special place in all of Glen Canyon, it began to be drowned by Lake Powell in 1964. But 31 years later, it was uncovered by drought, and its waterfall was once again striking sand.

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