The Kaibab Suspension Bridge

The Kaibab Suspension Bridge

One of the first signs of civilization you see on a Grand Canyon rafting trip after leaving Lee’s Ferry is the Kaibab Bridge. The Kaibab Suspension Bridge is located just upstream of the Boat Beach at Phantom Ranch. It connects the South Kaibab Trail with the North Kaibab Trail. Less than a mile below the Kaibab Suspension Bridge is the Silver Bridge which connects the Bright Angel Trail to the North Kaibab Trail. Mules bringing supplies and people down the Bright Angel Trail generally use a connection trail to get to the Kaibab Bridge from the Bright Angel Trail because the Kaibab Bridge has a solid floor, whereas the Silver Bridge can be seen through. Also the Kaibab Bridge seems less wobbly.

The Kaibab Bridge was completed in 1928. It connected the canyon in a way it never had before. Prior to 1928 the only way to cross the river between the North and South Kaibab trail was via David Rust’s cable car. In order to build the bridge, humans and mules carried 122 tons of material down the trail from the rim. Forty-two Havasupai tribesman carried the one-ton, 550-foot suspension cables.

Photo: GRCA Museum and Archives #10111
Photo: NAU Cline Library, Emery Kolb Collection, NAU.PH.568.9399

If you have ever hiked from the Colorado River up to Phantom Ranch from the Boat Beach, you have probably noticed a grave located on your right hand side just before your first sighting of Bright Angel Creek. This is the grave of Rees B. Griffith. Griffith was a Trail Foreman who was killed by a large boulder that was dislodged from a blast excavation he was inspecting. This unfortunate event happened in the canyon he loved so dearly on February 6, 1922.

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