double clickStanton's Cave - A Grand Canyon Cave Used for Stashing Supplies in 1889
Grand Canyon
6 or 7 Day Rafting Vacation

Mile 31.5 - Stanton's Cave

In 1889 Robert Brewster Stanton, chief engineer of the of the Denver Colorado Canyon and Pacific Railroad Company, stashed his boats and supplies in a large cave after three men (including financier Frank Brown) drowned in the days leading up to this exit from the canyon. The purpose of the expedition was to survey the river corridor, with plans of constructing a rail line capable of transporting coal from the mines in Colorado, through the Grand Canyon, to California. In 1890 Stanton was back again to complete the survey. He and his men found the boats and supplies from 1889 to be in serviceable order, save some minor rodent damage

Spit-Twig Figurines »

The Swain-Hatch “Dusty Dozen” river trip discovered several small animal figurines in Stanton’s Cave in 1934. The figurines, made from soaked willow stems, were created by splitting the stems lengthwise before twisting and wrapping the fibrous material until an animal figurine emerged. With little information about what past human group these “split-twigs” belonged to, the Swain-Hatch party assumed the artefacts to be children’s toys.

Archaeological Survey of the Cave »

In 1954, archaeologist Robert C. Euler excavated Stanton’s Cave uncovering more than 100 split twig figurines. Many of these were pierced with tiny spears suggesting the figurines were used for ceremonial purposes, rather than as children’s toys. The split twigs were subsequently radiocarbon dated at 4,000 years old. This means they were made by members of what archaeologists refer to as the Desert Archaic, a cultural group of nomads who followed and hunted herds of game throughout the southwest. In addition to uncovering a trove of archaeological material, Euler excavated many paleontological remains such as a 15,000 year old teratorn skeleton (an ancient vulture species larger than California Condors), several 20,000 year old Harrington mountain goats, and a 43,000 year old driftwood stash; likely left behind by the waters of an ancient canyon lake.

Lower Gorge Grand Canyon

Lower Grand Canyon Mile by Mile »

The lower Grand Canyon, as traveled by Western's 3 or 4 day expedition begins at Whitmore Wash (mile 188) and finishes at Lake Mead (mile 277).

See Lower Grand Canyon