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John Wayne in “Stagecoach”

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Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis in “Thelma & Louise.”

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Monument Valley timeline

  • November 9, 2013 - 2:00 PM

About 50 million years ago: Wind and water start shaping Monument Valley.

Before 1400: The Anasazi occupy Monument Valley and build many cliff dwellings and food-storage sites. Then they vanish.

After 1400: The Diné take up residence in and around Monument Valley. Other native tribes take to calling them the Navajo.

1863: The U.S. government orders the relocation of all Navajos to a reservation at Fort Sumner in Bosque Redondo, N.M.

1868: A larger Navajo reservation is established, and an 1884 expansion includes Monument Valley. Eventually the reservation, also known as the Navajo Nation, includes about 27,000 square miles of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.

1925: Harry Goulding and his wife, Leone, establish a trading post near the northwest rim of the valley.

1938: Eager to bring money to the Depression-ravaged valley, Harry Goulding goes to Hollywood bearing photos of Monument Valley and bluffs his way into a meeting with famed director John Ford. Soon afterward, Ford’s cast and crew arrive in the valley to make “Stagecoach.”

1939: “Stagecoach” revives the western genre. Ford goes on to make numerous movies in the valley.

Early 1940s: Uranium mining begins on Oljato Mesa at the western edge of the valley and continues into the 1960s, leaving a legacy of elevated radiation, pollution and controversy.

1958: The Navajo Tribal Council establishes Monument Valley as a tribal park.

1969: Peter Fonda leads the cast of “Easy Rider” through the valley.

1991: With the law in hot pursuit, Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon race through the valley in “Thelma & Louise.”

2008: The View Hotel opens, the first hotel inside the tribal park. It’s owned by the Navajo tribe and managed by a Navajo family.

2011: An $8 million Environmental Protection Agency cleanup is completed at the Skyline uranium mine, less than 2 miles from Goulding’s Lodge.

2012: Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, now 91,696 acres, reports 422,932 visitors.

Christopher Reynolds

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