Legendary Grand Canyon Boatman - Martin Litton

In the Grand Canyon, 296 miles of the Colorado River runs free, largely because of Martin Litton. He was a Grand Canyon river runner and environmental activist.
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The new National Geographic movie about legendary Grand Canyon boater Martin Litton will releases January, 2016. Learn more about the movie and the man at www.oars.com/martins-boat/#home

In the Grand Canyon, 296 miles of the Colorado River run free, largely because of Martin Litton. Martin was a Grand Canyon river runner and a longtime environmental activist.

His start as an activist was at age 18 when he wrote a letter to the Los Angeles Times against the destruction of Mono Lake nearby Yosemite National Park.

Twenty years later in 1955, he and his wife Esther boated down the Grand Canyon. They were among the first few hundred people to do so from Lee's Ferry to Grand Wash Cliffs. In those years they used fiberglass or wooden boats called dories. Martin continued to boat the Colorado River for decades and founded Grand Canyon Dories in 1971.

The first dory boat to run the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Music Temple was originally named Susie Too and was owned by Martin Litton's company Grand Canyon Dories. Photo by M. Quinn of the National Park Service [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The first dory boat to run the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Music Temple was originally named Susie Too and was owned by Martin Litton's company Grand Canyon Dories. Photo by M. Quinn of the National Park Service [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

When Martin turned 87, he became the oldest person to row a boat down the Grand Canyon. He continued to row into his 90s.

Martin Litton is best known for his fight against the Glen Canyon Dam in Page, Arizona and other dams on the Colorado River. The Glen Canyon Dam was built and formed Lake Powell, but other fights were successful. "If I hadn't done what I did, I think it's very likely at least one of those dams would have been put in the canyon," Litton said in a 2011 interview with the Los Angeles Times. "I was the only one screaming about them."

In another interview in 1994 with Boatman's Quarterly Litton said, "To compromise is to lose. When you're willing to compromise your principles you've given up. You abandon them. When you compromise nature, nature gets compromised. It's gone. It's hurt. It's injured. You gain nothing back ever."

Martin Litton, age 97, died in his California home on November 30, 2014.

Read tributes to Martin Litton: www.fronterasdesk.org/content/9871/legendary-grand-canyon-conservationist-boatman-dies | www.pressdemocrat.com/news/state/3191967-181/martin-litton-pioneering-wildland-guardian | www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-martin-litton-20141202-story.html#page=1

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