John Otto

Here's a fascinating character. According to Wikipedia:
The [Colorado National Monument] area was first explored by John Otto, a drifter who settled in Grand Junction in the early 20th century. Prior to Otto's arrival, many area residents believed the canyons to be inaccessible to humans. Otto began building trails on the plateau and into the canyons. As word spread about his work, the Chamber of Commerce of Grand Junction sent a delegation to see what he was doing. The delegation returned praising both Otto's work and the scenic beauty of the wilderness area. The local newspaper began lobbying to make it a National Park.

The area was established as Colorado National Monument on May 24, 1911. Otto was hired as the first park ranger, drawing a salary of $1 per month. For the next 16 years, he continued building and maintaining trails while living in a tent in the park.
As well as:
According to Horace Albright, "Otto was a marvelous guide and knew every inch of his monument, which he tended like a personal kingdom." Among his accomplishments was carving a steep stairway up the near-vertical ascent of Independence Monolith, the largest such feature in the park, which after the park's designation he used to summit the monolith and raise an American flag. He was often dubbed "The Trail Builder" or "The Hermit of Monument Park" in newspaper and magazine stories, and was rarely seen without his two burros (named Foxie and Cookie) laden with camping equipment and provisions.
We visit these amazing places for maybe an hour, perhaps for a day.

But a century ago, there was a guy who chose to live there, for 16 years, in the middle of nowhere, hiking around the canyon with his two donkeys, living in a tent, recognized as park ranger but paid a symbolic salary only, spending all those years alone, carving trails into rock - trails that we can still walk on some 80 years later.

I find that fascinating.


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