The Historic Kolb Studio was built in 1905 and was originally a family home and photography studio of Ellsworth and Emery Kolb. The brothers were thrill seekers and were known to do crazy things to photograph of the Grand Canyon. They made their money photographing tourists riding mules down the canyon. They would develop the photos and the tourists would pick them up when they got back to the top of the canyon.
When the brothers first arrived at the Grand Canyon, they set up their first studio in a tent. Being that this is a desert and the closest water is 6,000 feet below, they had to get creative to find water to develop their photographs, like a muddy cow pond near the studio. Of course a dark room is essential to film photography and tent does not get dark enough to successfully develop film. So, they took over an abandoned mine shaft for that task.
The location of Kolb Studio was no coincidence. It is perched precariously at the top of the canyon, right at the trailhead of the Bright Angel Trail (the trail that goes to the bottom of the Grand Canyon). The brothers charged tourists $1 per mule that went down the trail, which was pretty expensive in those days, but was preferable to walking. The Kolb family operated the studio for over 75 years, until Emery’s death when the building was acquired by the National Park Service (grcahistory.org).
Now, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It currently serves as a gift shop and a museum to the Kolb brothers and Grand Canyon art. If you are looking to take home a qualitity photo of the canyon, stop by the Kolb Studio. They had the best photos we saw in any of the park stores.
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