RED HORSE STATION / CAMERON'S HOTEL

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Among the Bright Angel cabins is the historic Red Horse Station. This structure originally stood about 16 miles south of Grand Canyon Village. Before the railroad arrived at the South Rim in 1901, it took quite a bit of effort to reach the Grand Canyon. Most transcontinental visitors rode the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, disembarking in Arizona at Flagstaff, Williams, or Ash Fork.

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Ralph Cameron converted Red Horse Station into a hotel and post office to serve visitors to the south rim. It is shown here in 1903 near the Kolb Brothers' tent studio.
Photo: NAU.PH.90.9.341. Art Metzger Collection. Cline Library, Northern Arizona University.

From there they would hire a wagon or stagecoach to convey them to the Canyon, a trip that required about two days and several stops along the way. For visitors coming to the Grand Canyon from Flagstaff, the last stop on the stagecoach route was at Red Horse Station. Stops such as this allowed stagecoaches to change horses and gave passengers a chance to stretch their legs and take a break from the dusty, bumpy, tiresome stagecoach ride.

At the turn of the century, the railroad’s convenience, comfort, and speed made it the preferred means of travel to the Canyon. At the same time personal automobiles were becoming more popular. These important historical changes in transportation methods, which were happening all across the country, helped sound a death knell for the old stagecoach lines. Since it was no longer needed as a stagecoach stop, in 1902 Ralph Cameron moved Red Horse Station log by log to its present site near the South Rim and converted it into the two-story Cameron Hotel. Five years later, the building also started housing the first post office at the Grand Canyon.

When the Fred Harvey Company decided to build the new Bright Angel Lodge in the early 1930s, they originally called for the building to be destroyed since a new post office was being built. However, Mary Colter insisted it be saved, along with Buckey O’Neill’s cabin, and incorporated it into the new hotel complex because she admired its early “hand-squared” log construction. The old stagecoach station is now one story and has been remodeled as a two-room guest cabin. It sits on a stone foundation with a floor made of pegged oak boards. The walls and ceilings are made of uncovered logs. The walls are chinked with cement and the ceiling with plaster. By the 1950s, these cabins had been renovated to include comforts such as hot and cold running water and individual baths. Visitors to the canyon today can still request to stay at the historic Red Horse Station cabin at the Bright Angel complex, part of the Village National Historical District.

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The Cameron Hotel and post office converted into a guest cabin by Mary Colter, circa 1935.
Photo: National Park Service. GRCA #9721


written by sarah bohl gerke


References:

  • Anderson, Michael. Polishing the Jewel: An Administrative History of Grand Canyon National Park. GCA, 2000.
  • Grattan, Virginia L. Mary Colter: Builder Upon the Red Earth. Grand Canyon Natural History Association, 1992