What does a Mormon shipwright have in common with a wildlife menagerie nestled among enthralling geology adorned with a star-encrusted night sky? Answer: Bryce and the five years he was here. Welcome to Bryce Canyon National Park, named after shipwright Ebenezer Bryce. From the flame-colored spires beneath the rim, to the sparkling diamonds in the night sky, we hope you enjoy the magical beauty of Bryce Canyon.
Ebenezer Bryce was born in Dunblane, Scotland in 1830. As a shipwright's apprentice, he learned carpentry, the trade that would become his life. Bryce converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and immigrated to the United States at the age of 17. Upon arriving in Utah, Bryce wed Mary Parker, and at the direction of the Mormon Church, the couple became serial homesteaders, going wherever the skills of a carpenter were most needed. They also managed to raise 12 children along the way! It was between 1875 and 1880 that the Bryces lived in the lower canyon.
By logging the flanks and irrigating the floor of the canyon that his neighbors christened with his name, Ebenezer supplied the fledging community with wood and water. It is unclear to what extent Bryce appreciated the world wonder that would immortalize his name. His only enduring quote about this rock labyrinth expresses more pragmatism than awe: "It's a hell of place to lose a cow."
The beauty of Bryce Canyon was not lost upon J.W. Humphrey who was the forest supervisor of lands that would eventually be united as the Dixie National Forest. Starting in 1916, he lobbied aggressively, sometimes even under an assumed name, to have the most scenic portion of his national forest bestowed with more protection than his agency could offer.
Step one occurred in 1923 when Bryce Canyon National Monument was established under the administration of the U.S. Forest Service. The following year saw it renamed as Utah National Park and transferred to the National Park Service. In 1928, a significant boundary expansion restored the name to Bryce Canyon National Park.