Georgie Clark 1955
Cline Library NAU

Georgie Clark 1990
Cline Library NAU

A midwesterner by birth, Georgie White Clark ventured to California on a bike as a teenage wife and mother.  In 1944, Clark's daughter, Sommona Rose, was killed by a drunk driver, sending Clark into a tailspin.  Worried friends dragged the despondent Clark to a Sierra Club lecture by Harry Aleson, and he inspired her to join him on a hike in the Grand Canyon in 1944 and on a "swim" of the Colorado River through the lower Grand Canyon in 1945.  They survived both, and Georgie's lifelong love affair with the Colorado and the Grand Canyon resulted.  In 1952, Clark became the first woman to row a boat through the entire Grand Canyon.  For the next twenty years, she was the only woman commercial river runner working in the Grand Canyon.

Her job choice (unusual for a woman of the era) and her penchant for self promotion made Georgie White Clark arguably the most famous person ever to run the Colorado River.  Interviewed by Groucho Marx and Art Linkletter, appearing on To Tell the Truth, escorting famed photographer Josef Muench down multiple river trips, and narrating the documentary Call of the Canyon brought Clark a level of fame her river-running male coworkers could only envy.

Source material for this story: 2006 Grand Canyon National Park Calendar printed by the Grand Canyon Association.


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