USGS Birdseye Expedition Survey River Trip at Grigg's Ferry, Lower Colorado River below Grand Canyon, October 16, 1923 [left to right: Frank Dodge (seated); Elwyn Blake; Felix Kominsky; two unknown women and two unknown men, presumably Smith family members; Claude Birdseye (seated); Herman Stabler; E. C. LaRue; Raymond Moore (with back to camera); and Leigh Lint].
Born in Pennsylvania, Emery Clifford Kolb (February 15, 1881--December 11, 1976) shared most of his early adventures with his brother, Ellsworth Leonardson Kolb (January 4, 1876--January 9, 1960), who left Pittsburgh and got a job at the Bright Angel Hotel at the Grand Canyon, Arizona. Back home, Emery had been experimenting with photography and when Ellsworth spoke of an opportunity to take pictures of the mule parties on the Bright Angel Trail, Emery went to the Canyon. In 1902, they opened a studio and began making pictures. The Canyons of the Green and Colorado Rivers had been successfully navigated by only a few parties, so, in 1911, the brothers decided to attempt the trip and successfully took the first motion pictures of the thrilling journey. Emery conducted an extensive lecture tour and in 1914, Ellsworth published the account in 'Through the Grand Canyon from Wyoming to Mexico.' The film and lecture ran continuously at their Canyon studio from 1915 until Emery's death in 1976. After serving in the Signal Corps, in 1919 Emery accompanied the National Geographic Society expedition which explored the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes on the Katmai Peninsula of Alaska, as one of the photographers. In 1921, the U.S. Geological Survey employed Emery and Ellsworth as boatmen through Cataract Canyon to Lee's Ferry, with Emery as head boatman for the 1923 USGS Birdseye Expedition through Grand Canyon. In 1928 the brothers participated in a dramatic search for Glen and Bessie Hyde, who had disappeared while running the Colorado River, succeeding in finding their boat but not them. In 1938, Emery accompanied Norman Nevills' river trip in which two female botanists became the first women to complete the Grand Canyon run. Emery married Blanche Bender in 1905, with daughter Edith born in 1907. Ellsworth departed to Los Angeles in 1924, but Emery stayed, photographing until he died just two months short of his 96th birthday.