Glen and Bessie’s Colorado River Trip, Part 3: Hermit Camp

After leaving Grand Canyon Village, the Hydes were bound for Hermit Camp. Little did they know, this was the last place they would be seen.

Hermit Camp was a campground for wealthy tourists, owned and operated by the Fred Harvey Company. Under contract from the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, the firm opened the campground in 1912 to cater to wealthy tourists trekking on the Hermit Trail. The firm spared no expense in fitting the post’s eleven cabins with expensive furniture and decorations. Hermit Camp also had a spacious dining hall where visitors could eat large and hearty meals. Over the following years, the Company expanded the site, adding more buildings, though information about their specific functions has not been preserved. Though newer campgrounds took some business away, by 1928, Hermit Camp was still a popular locale.

Glen and Bessie Hyde arrived at Hermit Camp on November 18 in the company of a man named Adolph Sutro. Sutro, a wealthy tourist from California, had met the Hydes at the landing below Grand Canyon Village on November 17 and asked to join them on their journey as far as Hermit Rapids. The Hydes agreed. For the rest of that day, the group encountered some of the Colorado River’s worst waters at Horn Creek Rapids and Granite Falls. The experience shook Sutro, who thought Bessie also seemed nervous. Sutro also observed Glen’s inability to handle the scow correctly and noticed the Hydes did little to secure the boat at night. From the Californian’s perspective, it was a miracle that they had made it this far.

Glen, Bessie, and Sutro arrived at Hermit Camp during the off-season, so only the station’s caretakers Mr. and Mrs. Pifer, and one guest were there. After hiking about 1.5 miles from the river to the camp, the Hydes signed their names into the guestbook and sat down with Sutro to eat lunch. After lunch, Sutro snapped a few photographs of the couple before they parted ways with the tourist and headed back down to the scow. They were roughly 375 miles into their epic trek but had another 430 miles in front of them.

Though rescue parties found traces of the Hyde’s camp from November 29, and the last entry in Bessie's journal dated from the 30th, Hermit Camp was the last place where they were positively seen. A government plane spotted their scow on December 19, fully stocked with provisions, Glen’s gun, Bessie’s journal, and their Kodak camera. There was no sign of the newlyweds. In the following years and decades, multiple search parties looked for them. None managed to find anything that could solve the mystery. In a tragic twist, Glen and Bessie’s quest for fame in the Grand Canyon came to fruition, but they most likely did not live to see it.

Hermit Camp closed in 1930 after a fire destroyed the dining hall. Today, all that remains of the station are the stone foundations of its buildings.

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