With the passage of the 1906 Antiquities Act, President Roosevelt had the power to declare places of “historic interest” national monuments and outside the reach of land developers and manufacturers who were spreading across the country at an alarming rate. Originally drafted to help preserve the Native American sites in the southwest that were being continually looted, Roosevelt used it to protect lands he saw were important for conservation efforts. The act was broad enough to allow him to do so when Congress was slow on declaring an area a national park.
On January 11, 1908, President Roosevelt used the Antiquities Act to set aside over 800,000 acres of land in Arizona and declared the Grand Canyon a national monument. "Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is," he declared. "You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see." Roosevelt had visited the Grand Canyon on his 1903 Western tour and would visit it again later in life with his wife. His sons also visited it and hunted in the area. It was one of eighteen sites Roosevelt declared national monuments during his presidency to protect from the rapid development of the early twentieth century.
In 1919, three years after the creation of the National Park Service, Grand Canyon National Park was signed into existence by President Woodrow Wilson as the seventeenth park under NPS jurisdiction. The change in name was fought over for eleven years by land and mining holders in the area. It remains one of the most impressive natural monuments in the United States.
Image: President Roosevelt mounted for a ride in the Grand Canyon, Arizona. June 11, 1903. From the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division.
Administrative History of the Grand Canyon. National Park Service.
History of the Grand Canyon area. Wikipedia.