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The Grand Cañon of the Colorado by John Muir
page 2 of 24 (08%)
bordered by belts of desolation. The finest wilderness perishes as
if stricken with pestilence. Bird and beast people, if not the dryads,
are frightened from the groves. Too often the groves also vanish,
leaving nothing but ashes. Fortunately, nature has a few big places
beyond man's power to spoil--the ocean, the two icy ends of the globe,
and the Grand Cañon.

When I first heard of the Santa Fé trains running to the edge of
the Grand Cañon of Arizona, I was troubled with thoughts of the
disenchantment likely to follow. But last winter, when I saw those
trains crawling along through the pines of the Cocanini Forest and
close up to the brink of the chasm at Bright Angel, I was glad to
discover that in the presence of such stupendous scenery they are
nothing. The locomotives and trains are mere beetles and caterpillars,
and the noise they make is as little disturbing as the hooting of an
owl in the lonely woods.

In a dry, hot, monotonous forested plateau, seemingly boundless, you
come suddenly and without warning upon the abrupt edge of a gigantic
sunken landscape of the wildest, most multitudinous features, and
those features, sharp and angular, are made out of flat beds of
limestone and sandstone forming a spiry, jagged, gloriously colored
mountain-range countersunk in a level gray plain. It is a hard job
to sketch it even in scrawniest outline; and try as I may, not in
the least sparing myself, I cannot tell the hundredth part of the
wonders of its features--the side-cañons, gorges, alcoves, cloisters,
and amphitheaters of vast sweep and depth, carved in its magnificent
walls; the throng of great architectural rocks it contains resembling
castles, cathedrals, temples, and palaces, towered and spired and
painted, some of them nearly a mile high, yet beneath one's feet.