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HISTORICAL FIGURES

WILLIAM WALLACE BASS
(1848-1933)


W. W. Bass 1904
Cline Library, NAU

W. W. Bass came to the Grand Canyon in the 1880s in search of mineral wealth and to cultivate his friendship with members of the Havasupai Tribe.  In 1885, he erected a primitive tent camp at the rim, about twenty-five miles west of today's Grand Canyon Village.  The site, improved substantially over the next few years, became known as Bass Camp.


W. W. Bass
Grand Canyon National
 Park Museum Collection

Between 1885 and 1891, Bass and some of his Havasupai friends improved an old Native American trail into the inner canyon.  Bass named it the Mystic Spring Trail, and he used the trail to guide visitors into the inner canyon and to prospect.  As Bass' operation expanded, he and his crew eventually established more than fifty miles of inner-canyon trails below both the South and North Rims.  A hike from rim to rim was possible thanks to Bass' cable tramway crossing the river.  His tramway no longer stands.


W. W. Bass 1910
Cline Library, NAU

In the mid-1890s, Bass married Ada Lenore Diefendorf, an easterner who met Bass during a vacation at the Grand Canyon.  Ada Bass assisted her husband in every aspect of his business, and she also found time to raise four children, becoming the first white woman to raise a family at the rim.

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

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