Here’s a 1962 photo of Gunsight Butte before there was a Padre Bay and a Lake Powell. For reference, Gunsight Bay will eventually be on the other side of the Butte and Last Chance Bay is behind the photographer. This view is looking southwest across the future Padre Bay. Click the image to enlarge it in a new window.
This is a great 1965 aerial photo of the Glen Canyon Dam site. It shows the remnants of the construction days and what was still in place from those years. Click on it to enlarge it in a new window. You’ll notice on the right side of the photo that the cableway towers, which were between the Beehive and the canyon wall, are gone and the tracks they rode on have been removed. Construction of the Visitor’s Center hadn’t begun yet.
Moving upstream along the canyon, both spillways are clearly visible, as is the horseshoe-shaped road/parking area where the footbridge once stood. The faint white-dashed line spanning the canyon was the log jam to prevent boaters from getting too close to the dam and spillways. The nighttime trout fishing with the boat tied to the log jam was always good.
The aggregate piles are still there where the conveyor belts once stood. The red line on the photo may have been a proposed route for the road to Wahweap. There are still a few buildings from the construction days and an electric substation near the Beehive. I made a then-and-now post of the Beehive you can see at The Beehive Then and Now.
Here’s a great shot of the Page Trailer Court dated 12-14-60. Click on it to zoom in and scroll to the far right. Do you see the trailer sitting at an angle behind the airport hanger? That was our trailer. Yea!!! I finally found a picture of it to prove I existed. You’ll also see the drive-in theatre screen and the corrals in the background. The trailer court eventually expanded to include more streets/trailers on the left side of the court, similar to the expansion you see already in place on the right side. At the far left of the photo, you’ll notice a couple of the MCS apartments.
This photo captures a time in Page that I remember well. Click on it to enlarge and zoom in. There are some things worth noting. First, this was taken in 1971 at a time when Bechtel was coming into town to build Navajo Generating Station (NGS). The time between the completion of Glen Canyon Dam in 1964 until movement started on NGS construction in the very late 60s/early 70s, saw the population of Page dwindle considerably. I remember many, if not most, of the USBR houses and MCS apartments sat empty for a number of years from 1964ish to 1970ish.
The photo above shows the abandoned MCS trailer park as it was being re-populated with the coming of Bechtel and its associated trades. Our trailer site is long gone in this picture but the tree that was near our front yard is still there at the top right corner of the picture, behind the airport hanger. This is a good aerial shot of the Empire House, Page Club Restaurant, Sportsman Headquarters, Pink Sans, and a few of the early gas stations. Is that the Teen Canteen still standing near the curve of the old dirt road between the MCS Apartments and the trailer court? I’m not 100% sure, but it could be.
The original business district foundation slab is still visible on the left edge of the photo, near where present-day STIX Market is. That was where the original Babbitt’s, the bank, barber shop, et al, were located. You might remember Redd’s Bottle Stop being to the left of that slab along what was then, 7th Avenue. The concrete slab that was an outdoor movie screen and dance floor is still there in this picture, located behind Keisling’s gas station. If I remember correctly, the white rectangle building set back from 7th Avenue near the left edge of the photo and near the old Babbitt’s slab, was the Dairy Queen. The building in front of it, that’s only partially visible, was DeWitt’s Kentucky Fried Chicken. I was a cook there for a time during High School. Mr. Dewitt was not only one of my teachers, but my boss. Talk about pressure! 🙂
I came across this video showing some good footage of the Glen Canyon Dam construction as well as some great shots of early Page Arizona. Some of the narration gets a little cheesy but the footage is amazing. You may even recognize some of the faces. I was surprised to see Chet Huntley narrating it. After the first minute and half to two minutes in, it picks up and gets good. The total length is only 27 minutes.
This first picture is undated, but it’s from the 60s. When I moved all of my pictures to a new computer, the meta data didn’t come with them, so I’ve lost all the dates and photographer info that was written on the back of them. But check this out:
You might want to click on that picture and open it while we talk about it. This is a look down present-day Aero Ave, looking toward the airport. The long building in the center was (is?) the USBR warehouse. To the right of it is the bowling alley and below the bowling alley is the Page Boy Motel. The street at the bottom is Vista Ave. Looking down Aero Ave toward the airport, I believe the first long building on the left was Page Market. I seem to remember the H-shaped buildings being barracks and a mess hall built early-on for construction workers on the dam.
The small buildings lined up at the near end of the trailer court were early Page businesses. Rexall Drug, Page Jewelers, and a Men’s Store were among those buildings. Was there a shoe store there too, or was that part of the Men’s Store? It’s all a blur sometimes. The building below the Little League field on the right of the picture was the original location of Babbitt’s and First National Bank of AZ, and the barber shop. I don’t remember if there was anything else in there. It looks abandoned in this picture, so the permanent buildings may have been in place by the time this photo was taken.
To the right of the baseball field, you can see a little bit of the concrete slab that was used to show outdoor movies and for dances. Above it, you can see a corner of the MCS apartments. Do you see that building by itself on the curved road from the MCS apartments to the trailer court? Did that serve a dual purpose? Was it both the Teen Canteen and the American Legion hall? For some reason that sticks in my mind. If you look at the very top of the picture and zoom in, you’ll see the airport hanger on the left. The dark area just below the hanger was our trailer. The small trailer to the right of the hanger was the Bonanza Airlines terminal. There was also an elevated platform near that trailer that served as the “tower” for Bonanza Airlines. Whenever the airline was on its way in or taking off, the airline guy (I don’t remember his name, but he lived on First Ave) would go up on that platform and talk to the pilot via radio. As a young kid, I always thought that was pretty cool. Zoom into this picture and look at the detail. You’ll see people walking, cars on the move, and one car with its hood up.
Here’s a shot I took this morning from Google Earth, showing that same area. I tried to get as close as possible to the same angle. This screen shot was taken today, 3/31/18 but the Google info on the photo is dated 4/6/2015. Enjoy!
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The dedication ceremony of Glen Canyon Bridge took place on Friday, February 20, 1959. My understanding of that event (we moved there shortly after the bridge was dedicated) is that the ribbon-cutting was actually a chain-cutting using a cutting torch and once the chains were cut, the crowds quickly moved onto the bridge to take a look below at the beginnings of Glen Canyon Dam. These pictures capture some of that day. If you were there, I’d love to hear your story in the comments.
The photo above is taken from above the beehive, looking back toward Page. If you click on the picture you’ll be able to zoom in and see the detail. Look at the number of cars parked on the Page side of the bridge and the line of cars still arriving on US89 in the distance. You can also see the original visitor’s lookout near the top of the canyon wall on the Page side of the canyon.
The photo above is a look from the Page side of the bridge. Check out the ambulance, the ’57 Chevy, and the old busses. The ambulance is visible in the first picture above by zooming into it.
Click on the above photo and look at the detail. The parking lot on the right was for visitors and there was a walking path down to the lookout point that I mentioned in the first picture, also clearly visible in this photo. The buses in the previous photo are visible in this one, to the right of the bridge. The first visitor center would eventually be placed on US89 between where those busses are parked and the end of the bridge. Looking in the canyon, the ledge has been cut in the canyon wall for the concrete batch plant but it’s not there yet. You can also see the keyways are cut for where the dam would be anchored to the canyon walls.
The lower footbridge is visible near the bottom of the photo and the upper footbridge can be seen in the background. No dam yet, but it’s on its way. You can see water flowing through the right diversion tunnel. Right and left seem relative, but in previous photos, right and left are usually referenced from the upstream side of the dam, looking downstream.
The above photo is like the “Where’s Waldo” of bridge dedications. Are you in this picture, or do you recognize someone who is? If so, please leave a comment and let me know.
The photo above was sent to me by Donna Bloxton Petersen with this caption, “Glen Canyon Bridge Dedication or First Bucket of Concrete for GC Dam when Paul Fannin was Governor – by Donna Burgess Kielland” I’m going with the bridge dedication since there is only one crane tower built and it may not be completely built (two more were built on that side of the canyon). Those three cranes were used in conjunction with the three on the opposite side of the canyon to lower the concrete buckets (and other things) into the lower canyon.
Until next time… Enjoy and share!
The Hive as it looked then….
The Hive as it looks now…
The early, undated photo of the Beehive at the top shows preliminary work underway for the Glen Canyon Bridge and Dam. I can’t tell if the east side has been cut away yet. The second picture is one I captured on Google Earth for comparison. I love putting together these then and now pics when I come across them. I’m close to brilliant! 🙂
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Here’s another aerial view of the Glen Canyon Dam construction site. This is looking upstream toward Wahweap creek. It’s a good look at the coffer dam, the early stages of the dam itself, and the power plant. The crane towers are visible on each side of the dam. If I remember right, there were two 25-ton towers and one 50-ton tower on either side. These crane towers moved back and forth along tracks. The road down to the visitor lookout site is visible on the right side of the canyon, coming off of US89. The oval shaped area was the parking lot and you can see the walking trail down to the lookout point. The footbridge is faintly visible in this photo too.
Lake Shore Drive, which was still dirt, is clearly visible. It was built and used for hauling gravel to the concrete batch plant at the dam site. Aggregate was trucked in to the batch plant from Wahweap Creek and dumped in an underground hopper at the base of the conveyor belt, visible in this picture near the end of the road. The aggregate was processed and conveyed to the concrete mixing plant seen in this picture on a large shelf cut out of the canyon wall. That concrete mixing plant was about twenty stories tall. The mixed concrete was dumped into a rail car that in turn, dumped the concrete into the buckets suspended by the cranes, for their trip to the topmost section of the growing dam. That’s the abbreviated story of the process. I always wanted to go inside that mixing plant but I never got the chance. Click on the image to enlarge it. Download it and check out the detail.