Arizona Name Stories: Grand Canyon Women

grand-canyon-womenAmong the spectacular features of the Grand Canyon are rock formations and rapids named for women, including Tahuta Terrace, Dox Castle and the Georgie Rapid.

Tahuta Terrace and Tahuta Point were named after Tahuta Jones, a “venerable Havasupai woman,” according to the 1935 book Arizona Place Names by Will Barnes, who lived from 1876 to 1964 in the region. William Bright’s 2004 book Native American Placenames adds Tahuta was a basketmaker and her name means “something concealed.” The 2004 book Grand Canyon Names adds that Tahuta was a Havasupai leader and when the point was awarded the name in 1925 by the Board of Geographical Names, it was very unusual, as Tahuta was still living at the time and most places were named posthumously.

Virginia_Dox_1885_Oxford_Idaho
Image of Dox published in Hartford Courant in 1928.

Dox Castle was named after Virginia Dox, a pioneer educator and Grand Canyon explorer (often credited as the first white woman to explore the Grand Canyon). Dox was also “the first [white] woman to be sent to a Native American reservation to teach,” according to Whitman College, who Dox fundraised for. Dox Sandstone, a type of Grand Canyon rock found in the butte, is also named in her honor. The name Virginia comes from the Latin “virgo” meaning “maid, virgin” and was a family name in Roman times (Verginius/Virginius), according to BehindTheName.com. Though the name of a state and seems a “common” name now, it wasn’t often used until the 1800s. According to NorthCarolinaHistory.org, Virginia was the name of the first English baby born in the Americas (Virginia Dare, August 18, 1587). That Virginia was named after the state, which was named for Queen Elizabeth 1, known as “the virgin queen,” according to StateSymbolsUSA.org.

GeorgieWhiteClark.jpg
Georgie White Clark’s G-rig in a Cataract Canyon rapid, 1956, by L.C.B. McCullough. Used with permission of Northern Arizona University, Cline Library, McCullough, L.C.B. Collection.

Colorado River’s Georgie Rapid was named after river rafter Georgie White Clark. Once called Twentyfour Mile Rapid, in 2001 it was renamed after this white water rapid pioneer, according to American Whitewater. Georgie was called “the most famous woman boatman of all time” by Grand Canyon River Museum because she “opened Grand Canyon to large scale river tourism.” Georgie was her nickname (her real name was Bessie). The name Georgie is rooted in the Greek “georgos,” which means earth worker, according to Behind The Name.

 

 

Sources:

  1. Book: Arizona Place Names by Will C. Barnes, 1935, reprinted in 1988, p. 134,463.
  2. Book: Native American Placenames in the United States by William Bright, p 471, 2004.
  3. Book: Grand Canyon Names by Gregory McNamee, 2004.
  4. Website: Whitman College Archives
  5. Website: USGS 
  6. Website: American Whitewater
  7. Website: Grand Canyon River Museum
  8. Article: Outdoors Magazine “The Rabblerousing Queen”
  9. Website: NorthCarolinaHistory.org
  10. Website: BehindTheName.com
  11. Website: StateSymbolsUSA.org

 

A version of this story first appeared on the Arizona Name Stories Instagram storytelling project page:@AZnamestories. This story is part of the project that explores the history of names in Arizona and that is also asking citizens of Arizona of all ages, cultures, backgrounds to share their own name story. If you’d like to submit your name story (and you’re from AZ or currently are a resident), read the instructions at AZnamestories.com. We welcome your participation. (Not all stories from the Instagram page will be posted on Names Redefined.)

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