Arizona Lodges: The High Country

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— A breathtaking tour of El Tovar, Grand Canyon Lodge and La Posada —

From the depths of the Grand Canyon to the sculpted sandstone of the Colorado plateau, Northern Arizona is a land of uncommon beauty.   Early in the 20th century, the Union Pacific and Santa Fe Railways built grand lodges to welcome those who journeyed across the country.   Three in Arizona reflect the grandeur of their surroundings and recall a bygone era: El Tovar, Grand Canyon Lodge and La Posada.   These are the lodges of Arizona's high country, and the subject of Eight's latest production,   Arizona Lodges: The High Country,” airing Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at 7 p.m. on Eight, Arizona PBS.

This is the story of the courageous individuals who forged grand dreams out of one of America's most remote and hostile desert areas, individuals with a deep respect and admiration for the surrounding nature and culture — and the passionate individuals who, years later, would labor to recapture the grandeur of the early days.   This is the story of a land and how it continues to inspire people.   This is the story of Arizona's high country.

Arizona Lodges profiles the entrepreneurs, the railway engineers and national parks officials, the artists and architects behind the history and legends of these historic landmarks.   Through first-hand accounts, archival materials and breathtaking footage, the documentary offers a unique window to Arizona's high country, and Arizona's architectural legacy.   Longtime Arizona radio and television personality Pat McMahon serves as narrator.

Arizona Lodges
interviews include: Al Richmond, rail historian; Jim Garrison, Arizona Historic Preservation Officer; Jan Balsom, Grand Canyon National Park; Tom Haraden, National Park Service; Don Botta, General Manager, Grand Canyon Lodge; Bruce Aiken, artist;   Allan Affeldt, owner/operator, La Posada; Tina Mion, owner/artist, La Posada; Jim Boles, Mayor of Winslow;   Marie LaMar, DeTour Director, Winslow Harvey Girls; Ruby McHood and Dorothy Hunt, Harvey Girls; Eugene Schmitz, retired locomotive engineer, Santa Fe Railway, Daniel Lutzick, artist.

Several pivotal events spurred the public's interest in the Grand Canyon and Arizona tourism: John Wesley Powell's historic exploration, the rustic architectural design of Mary Jane Colter and Gilbert Stanley Underwood, and the entrepreneurship of   Fred Harvey and the Harvey Girls.   The documentary explores the burgeoning rail network of the early 1900s and its role in developing the West, and establishing the national parks.  

Arizona Lodges showcases three of Arizona's historic lodges:

El Tovar

Perched just 20 feet from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, El Tovar combines the styles of a European villa and a log cabin.   Architect Charles Whittlesey used Northwestern firs and local limestone to create a rustic design.   The lodge celebrated its 100 th anniversary in 2005 with a $4.5 million renovation.   Arizona Lodges features highlights of the celebration in April 2005, and the grand re-opening.

Grand Canyon Lodge

Located on the north rim, Grand Canyon Lodge seems to merge with its magnificent environment.   The original lodge was designed by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood, a man whose name would become synonymous with rustic park architecture.   The Eight, Arizona PBS production recounts the challenges of constructing the remote lodge and a catastrophic fire in 1932 that almost closed the lodge for good.

La Posada                                    

La Posada is said to be architect Mary Jane Colter's favorite design.   Built on the eve of the Great Depression, the Winslow hotel was a favorite stopover for celebrities and travelers to the West Coast.   Eventually the hotel fell into disrepair, but after 40 years, the boarded up relic was saved from demolition and restored to its original grandeur.

“Just as it's important to preserve these buildings, it's also important to preserve the stories of Arizonans,” said Writer/Producer/Director John Booth. “These hotels represent a milestone in Arizona's history. A time when our state was being noticed by the world and when the world began to come here in ever increasing numbers.   Arizona Lodges: The High Country is the story of creating beauty and comfort in the wilderness, of perseverance and of rebirth.”

Eight, Arizona PBS's award-winning Arizona Collection celebrates the people, places and history of Arizona.

Arizona Lodges: The High Country was made possible by the Eight, Arizona PBS Program Partners, Friends of Eight who provide additional gifts for programs about the Arizona experience.

Media Contact:  Colleen O’Donnell Pierce
[email protected]
(602) 496-0579
(602) 478-3867 (cell)

About Arizona PBS

Arizona PBS is a trusted community resource.  For over 52 years, the PBS station has focused on educating children, reporting in-depth on public affairs, fostering lifelong learning and celebrating arts and culture. Arizona PBS achieves its mission through the power of non-commercial television, the Internet, educational outreach and community-based initiatives. Its signal reaches 80 percent of the homes in Arizona. With more than 1 million viewers weekly, Arizona PBS consistently ranks among the most-viewed public television stations per capita in the country. For more information, visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest or Tumblr.

Arizona PBS is a member-supported community service of Arizona State University and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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