National Archives at Kansas City

Press Release: August 22, 2013

National Archives at Kansas City

Kevin Fedarko to Discuss The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon

For More Information Contact:
Kimberlee Ried, 816-268-8072

Kansas City, (MO)… On Thursday, September 5 at 6:30 p.m., the National Archives at Kansas City with host Kevin Fedarko for a discussion and signing of The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Though the Heart of the Grand Canyon. A 6:00 p.m. reception will precede the discussion. Copies of Fedarko’s book will be available for purchase on site courtesy of Rainy Day Books.

In 1983 the largest El Niño event on record, a chain of “superstorms,” swept in from the Pacific Ocean and battered the entire West. That spring, a massive snowmelt sent runoff racing down the Colorado River toward the Glen Canyon Dam, a 710-foot-high wall of concrete that sat at the head of the most iconic landscape feature in America, the Grand Canyon. As the water clawed toward the parapet of the dam, worried Federal officials desperately scrambled to avoid a worst-case scenario - one of the most dramatic dam failures in history. In the midst of this crisis, beneath the light of a full moon, a trio of river guides secretly launched a small, hand-built wooden boat, a dory named the Emerald Mile, into the Colorado just below the dam’s base and rocketed toward the dark chasm downstream, where the torrents of water released by the dam engineers had created a rock-walled maelstrom so powerful it shifted giant boulders and created bizarre hydraulic features never previously seen.

The river chaos had already claimed fatalities, further launches were forbidden, and park rangers were conducting the largest helicopter evacuation in the history of Grand Canyon National Park. An insurgent river run under such conditions seemed to border on the suicidal, but Kenton Grua, the captain of Emerald Mile, was on an unusual mission. His aim was to use the flood as a hydraulic slingshot that would hurl him and two companions through 277 miles of some of the most ferocious white water in North America and, if everything went as planned, catapult the Emerald Mile into legend as the fastest boat ever propelled through the heart of the Grand Canyon.

To make a reservation for this free event call 816-268-8010 or email kansascity.educate@nara.gov.

About the Author

Kevin Fedarko lives in northern New Mexico and works as a part-time river guide in Grand Canyon National Park. In addition to his travel narratives in Outside magazine, where he works as a senior editor, Fedarko’s work has appeared in Esquire, National Geographic Adventure, and other publications, and has been anthologized in The Best American Travel Writing in 2004 and 2006. Fedarko was a staff writer at Time magazine from 1991 to 1997, where his work garnered an Overseas Press Club Award for a story on the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Fedarko has a master’s degree in Russian history from Oxford University.

The National Archives at Kansas City is one of 13 facilities nationwide where the public has access to Federal archival records. It is home to more than 50,000 cubic feet of historical records dating from the 1820s to the 1990s created or received by nearly 100 Federal agencies. Serving the Central Plains Region, the archives holds records from the states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The facility is located at 400 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO 64108. It is open to the public Tuesday - Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for research, with the exhibits open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 816-268-8000 or visit us online.

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