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home : features : canyon corner September 15, 2014

11/24/2009 1:03:00 PM
History of the Grand Canyon as seen through postcards
New book proudly adds to the history of the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon National Park by Thomas Alan Ratz.Postcard History Series. Arcadia Publishing. Price $21.99. 128 pages/softcover.
Grand Canyon National Park by Thomas Alan Ratz.Postcard History Series. Arcadia Publishing. Price $21.99. 128 pages/softcover.
Patrick Whitehurst
Associate Grand Canyon News Editor

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - The nation's rich collection of books on Grand Canyon continues to grow with the release of author Thomas Ratz's first book "Grand Canyon National Park." The new book, part of Arcadia Publishing's Postcard History Series, was released Monday and will be available at local booksellers, independent retailers, online retailers, and through

The book features more than 225 historic postcards and is designed to relate the history of the national park as seen through early postcards of the area. According to Ratz, the book also serves as a guide to the Canyon, as it follows a path, detailing in order what one would see if they were walking along the South Rim.

"It's one long line," Ratz said. "It was an organizational decision."

Ratz, 55, moved from Michigan to Grand Canyon in 1980. He's been an employee of the El Tovar for 29 years and has collected hotel memorabilia, including postcards, for years.

"After a while you start to get interested in the place you work," Ratz said. "You end up with a really neat insight into what was happening at the time."

As he gathered memorabilia, which includes more than just postcards, Ratz said he noticed a uniqueness among each era of the Canyon. Brochures, for instance, were written differently in the early 1900s as compared to the 1950s, when things were written faster, Ratz said.

His private collection has made him a go-to source for historical images needed for special displays in and around the park. His material has been utilized for a Web site collection on Hermit Road, as well as a guide to Hermit Trail, and for displays at the Hopi House, Bright Angel and more. He wrote the first chapter of the book in five days.

"There was a lot of research. I tried to make sure I had all the names correct and the dates correct," Ratz said. "I collect a lot of early El Tovar and Grand Canyon memorabilia, like the El Tovar menus from the dining room. I think my earliest one is 1908."

In his free time, Ratz enjoys reading about and collecting Native American art. An artist himself, he also produces pencil drawings and produces southwestern landscapes in oil and pastels.

"I hope this book will give the reader an appreciation of the long history of the places and buildings they visit as they take in the views of the Grand Canyon," Ratz said.

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