This panorama was photographed on February 1, 2009. The following is a transcript of the narration for this panorama. To listen to the narration, enter the project at this location and press the play button.
We are near the end of Cedar Ridge, just above the saddle between it and O’Neill Butte. The South Kaibab Trail skirted the east side of the Esplanade Sandstone cliffs, and are now in the next member down within the Supai Group, the Wescogame Formation. The harder sandstone of the Esplanade has been replaced by a softer combination of sand and silt in the Wescogame that has the reddish-brown color that is characteristic of the Supai as a whole.
O’Neill Butte, on the other side of the saddle, is named for William Owen O’Neill, a colorful character from the Arizona frontier days in the late nineteenth century, usually known by his nickname of Buckey, which he got for his habit of ‘bucking the odds’ when gambling. Buckey started out back east, but succumbed to the lure of the Arizona frontier by the time he was twenty. He was, at various times, a lawyer, a newspaperman, business entrepreneur, sheriff of Yavapai Country, mayor of Prescott, and an army cavalry captain.
He gained national fame by organizing a cavalry unit at the outbreak of the Spanish-American war, which become part of Colonel Theodore Roosevelt’s famous Rough Riders. Buckey did not, however, charge up San Juan Hill. He bucked the odds one too many times, parading himself before his company and exposing himself to enemy fire in the hours just before the charge, dying from a bullet that struck him the head.
Today Buckey is best known for a cabin he built near the South Rim that you can sleep in – it has become one of the cabins that are part of the Bright Angel Lodge in the Grand Canyon Village. But the important role he played in Grand Canyon history was in bringing the railroad to the South Rim. He and other partners, including the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, in the 1890’s built a line to haul out copper mined near Tusayan, just south of the park. But when the money from copper proved to not be enough to support the railroad, the line was extended in 1901 to the South Rim, and the railroad took on the far more profitable venture of hauling tourists, and you can still ride that line from Williams, Arizona to the canyon today.
Back in the present and looking down into the inner canyon just to the left of O’Neill Butte and below Plateau Point, we can see a bit of the Bright Angel Trail and a couple of panorama points along it – on top of the Pluton and in the Devil’s Corkscrew. Further off to the west another South Rim feature, Diana Temple, is coming into view, along with nearby Mescalero Point. Off to the east a new string of panorama points along the East Rim Drive are coming into view. They are, from left to right, the Desert View Watchtower, Lipan Point, Pinal Point, and Zuni Point.
Going up the trail from here, you follow the trail up through the Supai to the Hermit Shale, but then backtrack to a panorama point at a spot once again on the spine of the ridge. Going down the trail, you follow the trail of the saddle back to the east side of the ridge and down a couple of switchbacks to another panorama point further down, but still in the Supai.