Pete Berry
Grand Canyon National
Park Museum Collection

Peter D. "Pete" Berry learned in 1887 that his older brother John, who ran a Flagstaff saloon, had been shot to death trying to break up a barroom brawl.  Pete left Pitkin, Colorado, and went to Flagstaff to settle his brother's affairs and manage the saloon.  There he met and married Martha Thompson.  Almost immediately after arriving in Flagstaff, he began prospecting with three brothers: Burton, Niles, and Ralph Cameron.  Berry filed a claim and built a temporary cabin at Grandview Point in 1888.  The partners filed dozens of claims in 1890.  Then in 1892 on Horseshoe Mesa, they discovered the more famous of their four mines, the Last Chance Mine, which contained high-grade copper ore.  Berry, the Camerons, and a few others began work on a three-mile trail from their rim millsite to the mines.  They worked dawn to dusk six and seven days per week, completing the "Grand View Toll Trail" in 1893.  Berry and the Camerons organized their claims into the Grand Canyon Copper Company.  In 1902 while times were good, they sold the mines, trail, and millsite to Henry P. Barbour, who continued the operation.  In 1907 when the price of copper dropped dramatically, the mines closed for good.  Many mining artifacts remain on Horseshoe Mesa.

Grandview Hotel
Cline Library, NAU

Although mining activity at Grandview Point was bustling in the late 1800s, Berry diversified his interests to take advantage of growing numbers of Grand Canyon vacationers.  Beginning in 1892, he replaced an earlier temporary structure with a formidable log building, and continued to improve it until by 1897 he had completed the Grandview Hotel.  He and Martha decorated the rustic interior with Navajo blankets, Hopi crafts, and simple homemade furnishings.  It remained the best decorated and roomiest hotel until the El Tovar opened in 1905.  Berry put up a three-story building on his adjacent 160-acre homestead and opened it as the Summit Hotel.  Continuing competitive pressure from the Santa Fe Railroad and Fred Harvey Companies along with declining copper prices forced all Grandview ventures to close in 1907.  In 1913 Berry sold his homestead and the Summit Hotel to millionaire newspaperman William Randolph Hearst for forty-eight thousand dollars.  He later sold the Grandview Hotel and his remaining mining claims to Hearst for an additional twenty-five thousand dollars.

Martha, Pete,
Ralph's wife, Ralph Berry
Grand Canyon National
Park Museum Collection

In 1919 Pete and Martha moved five miles to the southeast to the fifty-acre homestead of his son, Ralph.  His son died that year of the influenza.  They remained at the ranch earning a little money trapping and selling Navajo rugs.  Martha died in 1931 and Pete died the following year.  Both are buried in the Grand Canyon Pioneer Cemetery.  Pete Berry claimed and developed one of the few paying mines ever opened within the Grand Canyon.  He built a hotel and remained to compete with railroad interests nearly to the end of the pioneer period.

Source material for this story: Living at the Edge by Michael F. Anderson


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