GRAND CANYON, USA - AUGUST 30: Lodge on August 30, 2007 in Grand Canyon: Entrance to the Bright Angel Lodge. Designed in 1935, the Lodge is a neuralgic point of activity in the South Rim.


Bright Angel Lodge

Grand Canyon National Park South Rim

Commissioned by the Fred Harvey Company, designed by Mary Colter and completed in 1935, the log-and-stone Bright Angel Lodge offered canyon travelers alternative accommodations to the luxurious El Tovar. Just off the lobby is the History Room, a small museum devoted to Harvey, who, in conjunction with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, transformed the Grand Canyon into a tourist destination. The fireplace uses actual canyon stones to recreate the geology of Bright Angel Trail from river to rim.

Today's Bright Angel is the latest in a series of incarnations that began after the first stagecoach arrived at the South Rim from Flagstaff on May 19, 1892. When train service to the canyon looked inevitable, James Thurber relocated his Flagstaff–Grand Canyon stagecoach line to the head of the Bright Angel Trail and opened Bright Angel Hotel and Camps. He sold the property to Williams hotelier Martin Buggein in 1901, but because neither man made a formal claim to the land upon which the hotel stood, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway enveloped the site as part of its 20-acre depot; upon completion of the railroad's luxury El Tovar hotel in 1905, the railroad bought Buggein's share of Bright Angel and upgraded his accommodations.

On the lodge grounds is the Buckey O’Neill Cabin. Built in the 1890s by William Owen O’Neill and renovated in 2007 and 2018, the cabin is the longest continually standing building on the rim. O'Neill, nicknamed ‘Buckey’ because he ‘bucked the odds’ in card games, moved from Missouri to Arizona in 1879 and worked as an author, journalist, miner, politician and judge. He was a significant force in the economic and tourist development of the South Rim, dedicated to raising money to bring the railroad to the rim, and in 1897 he created and became president of the Santa Fe and Grand Canyon Railroad Co. In 1898, he joined Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in the Spanish American War. He died at age 38, the day before the assault on San Juan Hill and three years before the railroad's arrival at the South Rim in 1901. The rimside cabin served as his office and then as the South Rim post-office and today the lucky few who make reservations at Bright Angel Lodge well in advance can stay here.

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