The Brave Ones
The River Journals of
Ellsworth and
Emery Kolb

edited by 
William C. Suran

200 pages
4 maps, index
Over 30 photographs
Trade paperback

Out of Print. Try:
Five Quail Books
Ken Sanders Rare Books
Back of Beyond Books
or this:

Colorado River Chronicles
Slipcased hardbound set of
Every Rapid Speaks Plainly and The Brave Ones; numbered and signed edition of 200

In 1911, The Kolb brothers, Emery and Ellsworth, young photographers living on the South Rim of Grand Canyon, conceived a preposterous expedition: although neither of them knew much about whitewater, they had two wooden rowboats built, and proposed to row them the entire eleven hundred miles of the Green and Colorado Rivers. The trip was not solely for thrills. They planned to make not just still and stereo photographs, but moving pictures as well.

In early September they launched from Green River, Wyoming. For the next four and a half months, the brothers rowed, careened, roped, dragged, and carried their boats through and around the rapids, often finding themselves swimming in the freezing river, patching and repatching their boats, and salvaging what film and equipment they could from their flooded hatches.

Their first assistant left in tears after the first week, but was replaced on the last leg of the journey by stalwart Bert Lauzon, a miner, cowboy, and roustabout. Against all odds, the three men emerged from Grand Canyon in January, 1912, with photographs and movies they would show and sell for the next sixty years.

Here for the first time are their on-the-spot accounts, transcribed from the journals they penciled late at night along the shore. Theirs is a tale of phenomenal courage, terrific luck, and dogged perseverance. And in spite of unending hardship, the brothers had nearly as much fun doing it back then, as you will have following along nearly a century later.

William C. Suran devoted much of his later life to the history of Grand Canyon, working as a volunteer archivist in the Kolb Collection at Cline Library, Northern Arizona University, and playing a fundamental role in the Grand Canyon Historical Society (formerly Grand Canyon Pioneers Society). The Society awarded him their Pioneer Award in 2002. Bill Suran died in July, 2009.

Suran spent more than a year squinting and magnifying copies of the original Kolb and Lauzon journals and letters to produce these accurate transcriptions of the 1911-12 expedition.