Follow the Trails Forged By Grand Junction Colorado’s ‘Hermit of Monument Canyon’
If you google John Otto these day's you'll probably get a bunch of links for the drummer for the band Limp Bizkit, but if you go WAY back in time, you'll find a man as responsible as anyone for helping to develop the Colorado National Monument.
In 1907 Otto wrote, "I came here last year and found these canyons, and they felt like the heart of the world to me. I'm going to stay and promote this place because it should be a national park."
Can you imagine John Otto roaming through the Monument with his two ponies, a dog, and a horse? Do you think he roamed through the canyons the way Obi-Wan Kinobi did in Star Wars? Maybe so.
By 1911, the Colorado National Monument was officially recognized. Otto was hired as the Colorado National Monument's first custodian. He earned one dollar per month and stayed on from 1911 to 1929. How do you know someone loved their job? They worked for 1 dollar per month.
During his time as the Monument Custodian, Otto came to know every inch of the monument and was by far the best guide through the canyons. Over the years, Otto ended up carving a steep staircase into the side of the Independence Monument. Once finished, Otto climbed to the top with an American Flag and set it on top. This tradition is still observed today during many 4th of July events.
Otto was given a handful of nicknames including, 'Hermit of Monument Canyon' and 'trail builder. There are two trails that stand out today as a way of following in the footsteps of John Otto and that is to walk either 'Serpents Trail' or 'Otto's Trail' both located inside the Monument.
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