Earth Notes - Mai Richie Reed

Flagstaff, AZ – Earth Notes: Mai Richie Reed's Arizona Adventures

Just over a century ago an adventurous young woman from Philadelphia took the railroad west to the country's hot new tourist attraction, the Grand Canyon. The recent discovery of Mai (PR: My ) Richie Reed's travel journal by historian Erik Berg provides a fascinating new window into a time when southwestern tourism was young.

In the journal, written in 1907 and 1908, Reed's descriptions of the scenery and the people she met are accompanied by photographs and humorous poems. Reed's pictures reveal that she traveled down the now-abandoned Silver Bell trail and visited Dripping Springs, where the prospector Louis Boucher ran a camp.

Boucher was the original hermit after whom Hermit Trail and Hermit's Rest are named, while the Silver Bell trail was named after his favorite mule. Boucher was a solitary soul who eventually began running overnight trips for visitors, becoming one of the canyon's first tourist guides.

While Mai Reed's journal entries end after 1908, her interest in the area did not. She continued to visit and in 1910 married the artist Louis Akin, famous for his Grand Canyon paintings. The couple lived just outside Flagstaff, where the well-known Colton House now stands.

The house burned down. Reed and Akin's marriage was similarly doomed. They split up after just one year together. Reed went back east and Akin died shortly afterwards. Yet Reed never forgot her Arizona adventures. Today she is remembered fondly by her family as an independent woman who just wanted to go out West and ride horses.

-Diane Hope