GCPBA RiverNews 5/7/2019 – Pay Phones At Phantom Ranch Are Permanently Gone

From GCPBA board member Dave Mortenson:

Pay phones at Phantom Ranch are permanently gone!

For those of you who have every hiked down or run the Colorado River and spent some time at Phantom Ranch will find this information interesting. Peggy Kolar, the River Ranger at Lees Ferry sent me an email with the news.

The pay phones at Phantom Ranch have been permanently disconnected. There will no longer be public phones available at Phantom Ranch. Emergency phones are still active and in place, but will only connect to emergency dispatch. As Peggy said, " Kind of a bummer, since many folks like to check in with home."

Like the Phantom Ranch swimming pool the phone will now be part of history. Her is just one story about that phone.

In 1957 when the P.T. "Pat" Reilly river trip made Bright Angel, they decided to abort their river trip since the 126.000 cfs river was too high and unsafe. My father, "Brick" Mortenson ,along with Moulty Fulmer were Pat's two boatman. My father decided to let my mother know what was happening and used the phone at Phantom Ranch to contact her.

My mother "Bonnie" had receive a call from probably Bill Belknap that he would not be able to meet the Reilly party when they reached Lake Mead as there was a large many miles long log jam in upper lake. He had been scheduled to tow the river party and their three boats to Temple Bar. Bill wanted desperately to let Reilly know what was occurring and reached out to contact numbers given him. My mother, who received the alarming news, decided to try to contact someone at Phantom Ranch to hopefully let the river runners know about the Lake Mead issue. She had planned schedule and hoped she could get the word to the river party.

In those days long distance calls to and from Phantom Ranch had to go through a live operator. Amazingly, both my parents tried to reach each other at the same time. The operator simply connected to callers from Phantom Ranch and Los Angeles.

Just imagine how many personal stories are related to the public phone at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

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