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“He Could Sell Shit to a Cow:” Watch Tribute Video to Martin Litton


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Some say he rowed with an angel on his shoulder.

But renowned conservationist and dory aficionado Martin Litton was the angel on the shoulder of the Grand Canyon, helping spearhead the fight to stop the Marble Canyon Dam in the early ‘60s.

Thanks to his impassioned speech to the Sierra Club board of directors in 1963, Sierra Club executive director David Brower agreed to lead the fight to oppose the Marble Canyon and Bridge Canyon dams in the Grand Canyon. Congress terminated both projects in 1968.

All this and more can be found in the much-watch video tribute to Litton, “Martin’s Boat,” a 23-minute film by Pete McBride and sponsored by OARS detailing a dory christened the “Marble Canyon” built by longtime boat-builder and Grand Canyon guide Duffy Dale and the craft’s first float down the Grand. While the film is four years old, it lives on on YouTube and if you haven’t seen it you should — especially in this day and age of COVID time on your hands.

“Martin Litton is my conscience,” Brower says in attribute, putting its theme into perspective.

And it highlights the essence of what a trip down the Grand means, and why Litton was so enamored with it.

Martin Litton
Like your float down the Grand? Thanks this guy…

“Martin knew what we do down there changes people,” says Dale in the video. “There’s an appeal about it I can’t describe, when you have people in a dory sensing what the river truly is. It’s mind-expanding for a lot of people…”

And yes, there was an earthquake in Flagstaff the day he died at age 97 on Nov. 30, 2014.

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