Martin Litton, Political Activist and Conservationist, Dies at 97

The very recently diseased Martin Litton wore many hats during his lifetime, achieving many great things along the way, and it’s important not to forget how much we owe to this great man and the incredible number of accomplishments he managed to fit into his lifetime. You may not know conservationist Martin Litton, but if you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon National Park, or enjoyed one of many Grand Canyon tours, you have him to thank for much of the untouched, natural beauty on display.

We was a soldier, flying gliders in the Second World War. Later, he became a journalist and worked for two of the most successful newspapers in California. After beginning his professional career as a journalist and businessman, he discovered his passion for nature and began his lifelong commitment to preserving the natural beauty he saw around him in places like the Grand Canyon. In 1955, he took his first voyage down the Colorado River into the heart of the Grand Canyon, at the time one of less than 200 people recorded to have made the trip. 49 years later, at age 87, he would do it again, and in doing so, he took and still holds the record for being the oldest person to peril the dangerous Colorado rapids.

His passion for boating extended beyond his own adventures, as he founded and operated his own river company. Grand Canyon Dories sold boats and boating equipment amongst other things, but the boats there were not the typical retail kayaks. His boats were unique and unconventional wooden boats, beloved by rafters seeking a truly authentic experience.

Throughout his life, he fought many battles to preserve the beautiful, natural sights many still behold within Grand Canyon Park. The most famous and impactful of his political struggles took place in the 1960s when he campaigned against the construction of two hydroelectric dams within the canyon. Joining forces with other supporters and political activists, Litton led a powerful campaign against the dams, and the plans to build them were cancelled as a result.

In honor of such impactful deeds, we’d like to thank Martin Litton for his years of devotion and commitment to the very natural beauty that makes the Grand Canyon such a popular and defining feature of the American landscape.

Do you have any stories you’d like to share of Litton’s impact? How can you explain the need to preserve the Grand Canyon’s natural beauty? Let us know in the comments section below, and consider sharing this article so that others can remember the man who did so much to keep America beautiful.