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Full text of "Change name of Grand River to Colorado River .."

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67th Congress,) HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, j Report 

Ist Session. ) ( No. 97. 

CHANGE NAME OF GRAND RIVER TO COLORADO RIVER. 



May 25, 1921. — Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be printed. 



Mr. Denison, from the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Com- 
merce, submitted the following 

REPORT. 

{To accompany H. J. Res. 32.] 

The Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, to whom 
was referred the resolution (H. J. Res. 32) to change the name of 
the Grand River in Colorado and Utah to the Colorado River, having 
considered the same, report thereon with the recommendation that 
it do pass. 

The resolution is as follows : 

JOINT RESOLUTION To change the name of the Grand River in Colorado and Utah to the Colorado 

River. 

Whereas the Colorado River, which traverses or fiMrnis the boundaries of the States of 
Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California, is formed by the junction of the Grand and 
Green Rivers, in the State of Utah; and 

Whereas the Colorado River was discovered in the year 1540 and was given various 
names until about 1620, when it was definitely nanied the Rio Colorado of the West, 
and has ever since been known throughout the world as the Colorado River; while 
the two main forks of the Colorado River were not discovered until about the year 
1776, and were given some eight or ten different names during the following fifty 
years when they finally became generally known as the Grand and Green Rivers; 
and 

Whereas the so-called Grand River is and always has been in reality and by official 
measurement the main stream and principal source of water supply of the said 
Colorado River, and historically and for every other reason, should have been 
originally named and ever since known as the Colorado River throughout its entire 
length, from its source in the Rocky Mountain National Park in the State of Colo- 
rado, to its confluence with the Green River in Utah, and thence to its mouth in 
the Gulf of California; and 

Whereas, by the Act of Congress approved February 28, 1861, providing for the organ- 
ization of the Territory of Colorado, the Territory was named Colorado "for the 
reason that the Colorado River arose in its mountains and there was a peculiar 
fitness in the name," and also because "the name Colorado is more appropriate 
and more harmonious, and is the handsomest name that could be given to any 
Territory or State" (Congressional Globe, February 4, 1861, volume 31, part 2, 
Thirty-sixth Congress, second session, pages 729 and 766; and Hall's History of 
Colorado, volume 1, page 258); and 

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2 CHANGE NAME OF GRAND RIVER TO COLORADO RIVER. 

Whereas the Legislature of the State of Colorado by unanimous vote of both the Senate 
and House of Representatives of the Twenty-third General Assembly has recently 
passed the following bill: 

"A bill concerning the change of the name of the Grand River to the Colorado River. 

''Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Colorado, That the name of 
the Grand River in Colorado is hereby changed to the Colorado River, by which 
name said river shall hereafter be known, from its source to where it crosses the 
western boundary of the State of Colorado. 

"Sec. 2. The change of the name of said river shall in no wise affect the rights of 
this State, or of any county, municipality, corporation, association, or person; and 
all laws, records, surveys, maps, and other public or private documents of every kind 
and nature in which the said river is mentioned or referred to under or by the name 
of the Grand River shall hereafter refer to the same river and with the same purport 
and effect under and by the name of the Colorado River' '; 

Which act was approved by the governor and became a law of that State on March 24 
1921: Therefore be it 

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America 
in Congress assembled, That from and after the passage of this act the river heretofore 
known as the Grand River, from its source in the Rocky Mountain National Park in 
Colorado to the point where it joins the Green River in the State of Utah and forms 
the Colorado River, shall be known and designated on the public records as the 
Colorado River. 

Sec. 2. That the change in the name of said river shall in no wise affect the rights 
of the State of Colorado, the State of Utah, or of any county, municipality, corporation, 
association, or person; and all records, surveys, maps, and public documents of the 
United States in which said river is mentioned or referred to under the name of the 
Grand River shall be held to refer to the said river under and by the name of the 
Colorado River. 

A similar resolution to this was introduced by Mr. Taylor of 
Colorado in the Sixty-sixth Congress as H. J. Res. 460, and the then 
chairman of this committee referred that resolution to the Depart- 
ment of the Interior with the request that the Secretary should 
report thereon generally, and also (a) as to the authority of Congress 
to enact this legislation; (6) as to whether or not it would be more 
appropriate for the State Legislatures of Colorado and Utah to con- 
sider and act upon the subject; and (c) as to whether or not there 
were any precedents for this measure. Former Secretary Payne 
reported thereon as follows : 

Department of the Interior, 

Washington, February 2, 1921. 
Hon. John J. Esch, 

Chairman Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, 

House of Representatives. 

My Dear Mr. Esch: I am in receipt of your letter of January 28, 1921, indorsing 
copy of House joint resolution 460, to change the name of the Grand River in Colorado 
and Utah to the Colorado River, and asking for an expression of opinion as to the juris- 
diction of Congress to enact such a bill, whether it would be more appropriate for the 
States or Congress to consider such a measure, and whether there are any precedents 
for the action proposed. 

In reply I have to advise you that the Grand River is an interstate stream, rising in 
and traversing the State of Colorado, passing through a part of the State of Utah, and 
forming, in conjunction with the Green River, the Colorado River, which, after passing 
through or forming the boundaries of a number of States, enters the Republic of Mexico, 
and empties into the Gulf of California. 

As you are aware, under the Constitution and decisions of the Supreme Court of 
the United States, the jurisdiction of Congress over navigable rivers in matters relating 
to navigation and fisheries is defined, and while the question is open to some discus- 
sion, it is contended that this jurisdiction extends not only to the navigable portion 
of a stream but to the upper or nonnavigable portions which feeds the main stream. 
Whether this be true or not. it is clear that Congress would have this jurisdiction not 



CHANGE NAME OF GRAND RIVER TO COLORADO RIVER. 3 

only over streams now actually navigable in fact, but over those portions which can 
be made navigable by dams or other public works. Then, too, Congress has consist- 
ently exercised jurisdiction over interstate matters, such as interstate railroads, power 
lines, etc. 

I do not believe that the changing of the name of an interestate stream should be 
left to State legislatures, and am of opinion, therefore, that such a measure as this 
should be considered by Congress, because of the interstate character of the stream 
and because water appropriations, power appropriations, county boundaries, and 
numerous Federal, State, and county records now designate the stream as Grand 
River. It would be less confusing and would obviate legal questions if the change 
is specifically authorized by congressional action. 

The only thing in the nature of a congressional precedent which I have been able 
to find is a joint resolution approved June 19, 1852 (vol. 10, p. 147, U. S. Stat. I;.), 
wherein the name of a river in the Territory of Minnesota, theretofore known as St. 
Peters, was changed to the Minnesota River. 

If Congress shall deem it advisable to enact the measure, this department has no 
objection to interpose thereto. 
Cordially, yours, 

John Barton Payne, Secretary. 

The chairman also referred that resolution to the War Department 
for a report, and the Secretary of War reported thereon as follows: 

War Department, February 1, 1921. 
Respectfully returned to the chairman Committee on Interstate and Foreign Com- 
merce, House of Representatives. 

So far as the interests committed to this department are concerned, I do not know 
of any objection to the favorable consideration by Congress of the accompanying 
bill, House joint resolution 4G0, present session, to change the name of the Grand 
River, in Colorado and Utah, to the Colorado River. 

W. R. Williams, 

Assistant Secretary of War. 

The chairman also referred that resolution to the United States 
Geological Survey for report as to the history, nomenclature, descrip- 
tion, source of supply, water flow, etc., of each of the three rivers 
referred to in the resolution, and the director, under date of February 
16, 1921, made a very complete and elaborate report, which is set 
forth in full in the hearings; but owing to its length it is deemed 
unnecessary to include it in this report. (See also Water-Supply 
Paper No. 395, ''Colorado River and its utilization.") From these 
reports it will be observed that the measure meets with the approval 
of both the Interior and War Departments. 

It was shown at the hearing that by " the treaty of peace, friend- 
ship, limits, and settlements, between the United States of America 
and the Mexican Republic," known as ''the treaty of Guadalupe- 
Hidargo," which was concluded between our country and Mexico 
on February 2, 1848, and duly ratified by both countries and pro- 
claimed on July 4, 1848, article 6 expressly provides that the Colorado 
River is a navigable stream from the Gulf of California up into the 
United States. And by the amended treaty with Mexico, of June 
30, 1854, known as "the Gadsden treaty," these same provisions 
were continued and are still in force and effect. So that the Colorado 
River is an international stream and the lower portion of the river 
is both by an international treaty, and by actual fact, navigable for 
a distance of something like 300 or 400 miles. 

The State of Colorado has by its general assembly enacted a law 
expressly changing the name of that part of the Grand River in 
Colorado and naming it the Colorado River. That State law was 
passed by a unanimous vote of both houses of the Colorado Legisla- 



4 CHANGE NAME OF GRAND RIVER TO COLORADO RIVER. 

ture, and was approved by the governor on March 24, 1921, and is 
as follows: 

An act concerning the change of the name of the Grand River to the Colorado River. 

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Colorado, That the name of the 
Grand River in Colorado is hereby changed to the Colorado River, by which name 
said river shall hereafter be known, from its sources to where it crosses the western 
boundary of the State of Colorado. 

Sec. 2. The change of the name of said river shall in no wise affect the rights of this 
State, or of any county, municipality, corporation, association, or person; and all 
laws, records, surveys, mape, and other public or private documents of every kind 
and nature, in which the said river is mentioned or referred to under or by the name 
of the Grand River, shall hereafter refer to the same river and with the same purport 
and effect, under and by the name of the Colorado River. 

The hearing also disclosed that this measure has practically the 
unanimous approval of the Colorado people generally, and the 
officials and municipalities and counties along and adjacent to the 
Grand River in Colorado, and also the State Historical Society and 
many other patriotic and public-spirited organizations and news- 
papers throughout the State. 

So that in reality there is at this time only the small part of that 
river from the eastern boundary of Utah to its junction with the 
Green River, a distance of about 80 miles, that is now officially called 
the Grand River. 

The Utah Legislature at its recent session had before it a resolution 
providing for the changing of the name of that portion of the stream 
in Utah and to call it the Colorado River. The matter was taken 
up late in the session and was referred for consideration to the 
member of the legislature from that part of the State, the Hon. C. A. 
Hammond, of Moab, Utah, which town is on that portion of the 
Grand River. Mr. Hammond was taken ill and died and the resolu- 
tion was, therefore, never formally acted upon; and the Legislature 
of Utah will not meet again for two years. However, it may be 
generally stated that there is no opposition on the part of Utah to 
the change. In fact, the governor oi the State of Utah and the local 
people and their Representatives seem to all be in favor of it. 

The reason it is sought to pass this resolution rather than to await 
the action of the Utah Legislature some time in the future is because 
the State and the people of Colorado are desirous of having the 
change made without waiting two or three years, and also because 
the Secretary of the Interior in his report holds that inasmuch as the 
Colorado River is an international stream and an interstate stream 
and a navigable stream, and the Grand River tributary is in itself an 
interstate stream, that the change of the name should not be left to 
the State legislatures, but should be considered by Congress, because 
of the large water appropriations and other Federal matters and maps 
and records involved. And your committee is largely acting upon 
that suggestion of the Secretary of the Interior in assuming juris- 
diction and considering and recommending the resolution. 

The official records produced at the hearmg disclose that the Colo- 
rado River was discovered by the early Spanish explorers about the 
year 1540, and that from that time until about the year 1605 the 
river was given various names. But about the latter date it was 
called the Rio Colorado, meaning bright colored or red river, be- 
cause of the reddish sandstone formation throughout many portions 



CHANGE NAME OF GEAND KIVER TO COLORADO RIVER. 5 

of its canyons, and the reddish appearance of its waters at times 
when the rains wash down large quantities of the decomposed red 
sandstone. That for the past 300 years the river has been known 
as the Colorado River, one of the most unique, scenic, and marvelous 
rivers in the world. 

That name naturally was intended to extend from its mouth in the 
Gulf of California up to its source, wherever that might be. The 
early Spanish explorers never explored or knew where the source of 
the "Colorado River was. It was some 200 years after the Colorado 
River was named before the source of the stream was known. For 
many years the two main branches of the river — the Grand and the 
Green Rivers — were entirely unknown. Later explorers discovered 
those two streams and gave them various names, and many different 
reports of various explorers refer to those streams by different 
names. But approximately a hundred years ago the two streams 
became better imown and began to be marked upon the maps as 
they are to-day, and have been so recognized ever since. 

At the time the bill providing for the original creation of the 
Territory of Colorado was pending before the Thirty-sixth Congress 
it passed the House organizing the Territory and giving it the name 
of the ''Territory of Idaho." After that in the deoate m the Senate 
the Senators amended the bill by striking out the name ''Idaho," 
and on February 4, 1861, they rechristened it "The Territory of 
Colorado," as was then expressly stated on the floor of the Senate, 
"For the reason that the Colorado River arose in its mountains, 
and there was a peculiar fitness in the name," and also because, 
^'The name 'Colorado' is more appropriate and more harmonious, 
* * * and it is the handsomest name that could be given to 
any Territory or State." (Congressional Globe, Feb. 4, 1861, pp. 
729-766.) 

It was also shown to your committee from official reports that 
while the Green River is considerably longer than the Grand, that 
the Grand River is the larger of the two streams and furnishes much 
more of the water supplied to the Colorado River than does the 
Green River. And that the Grand is in reality the main stream and 
the source of the Colorado River, as was stated by the Senators at 
the time of the creation and the official naming of the Territory of 
Colorado. Your committee feels that by reason of the State of 
Colorado having been so expressly named after the Colorado River, 
as well as for the other reasons given at the hearing, that the State 
of Colorado is expressing a commendable sentiment, and has a 
patriotic right to have that river bear the name of "Colorado" 
from its mouth in the Gulf of California to its source in the Rocky 
Mountain National Park in the central portion of northern Colorado. 

The Colorado River being an international stream, and the lower 
portion of the river being navigable, both by international treaty 
and in fact, and the Grand River being an interstate stream, your 
committee entertains no doubt as to its jurisdiction, or as to the 
propriety of Congress considering this measure. 

There being no apparent reason sufficient in the judgment of your 
committee to counteract the expressed desire of the people of the 
State of Colorado to have this change made, your committee unani- 
mously recommends the approval of this resolution. 



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