How John Otto Made the Colorado National Monument a National Park
This Grand Junction history lesson is all about how the Colorado National Monument came to be. When John Otto laid eyes on the Colorado National Monument in 1906 he fell in love instantly. Here's how he helped make the Colorado National Monument a National Park.
John Otto moved to Grand Junction, Colorado from California and once he saw the Colorado National Monument, he knew that was his home. He wanted to make sure that other people got to appreciate the Colorado National Monument's beauty too, so pushed to make it a national park.
He spent years doing tours, interviews, collecting signatures for petitions, writing letters to politicians, and more to make the Colorado National Monument a part of the National Park Service. President Taft made the Colorado National Monument a national park on May 24, 1911.
John Otto lived alone in the Colorado National Monument, with the exception of his brief marriage which ended due to his lifestyle. His wife, Beatrice Farnham, left him a few weeks after he got married because she 'could not live with a man to whom even a cabin was an encumbrance.'
John spent lots of time creating trails using a shovel and a pick to carve trails and named rock formations after historic events and heroes. Many of the rock formations still have their original names from John Otto such as Independence Monument and Liberty Cap.
He truly loved the Colorado National Monument and said this about it the year after he moved there, according to the National Park Service:
I came here last year and found these canyons and they feel like the heart of the world to me. I'm going to stay and build trails and promote the place, because it should be a national park.
We admire how committed John Otto was to sharing the Colorado National Monument with the public and can't imagine Grand Junction without it. John Otto was a recluse and wasn't seeking money or attention, he just wanted to share the magnificent Colorado National Monument with the world and we respect him and appreciate him for it.