The battle over the damming of Glen Canyon is one of the great epics of 20th-century America, and out of it came two classics. One was Eliot Porter's elegiac photographic book The Place No One Knew: Glen Canyon on the Colorado, a book that helped create the genre of colour nature photography. The other was by John McPhee, the New Yorker's science writer. Encounters with the Archdruid recounts what transpired when McPhee managed to get the dam's chief advocate, Floyd Dominy, and its bitterest opponent, Porter's publisher and the Sierra Club's executive director, David Brower, to float together down the Grand Canyon below the dam, arguing all the way. Neither of them imagined the fate the dam now faces. But others hoped. Two classics, or maybe three. The insurrectionary environmental writer Edward Abbey's 1975 novel The Monkey Wrench Gang coined the verb "monkey-wrenching' for a certain kind of ecological sabotage: its four central characters plot to float a houseboat full of explosives to the dam. The book helped prompt the formation of the radical environmental group Earth First!, which announced its arrival on the scene in 1981, when some of its founders unfurled a vast line of black plastic resembling a crack down the 700-foot-high face of Glen Canyon Dam. "Surely no man-made structure in modern American history has been so hated for so long by so many with such good reason,' said Abbey, speaking to a crowd in a parking lot with a good view of the dam and the prank. It was Earth First! that came up with the optimistic bumper sticker about all this: Nature Bats Last. But Bechtel keeps the profits.
|The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author
and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.