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Brighty
of the Grand Canyon

Who was Brighty? A Burro
Did he exist? Yes !
Brighty even became a plastic mold statue too!
by Breyer Animal Creations
Chicago, Illinois

Bright Angel Trail
is the land where Brighty roamed.

People have been fascinated by the tale of a small burro who played a role in Grand Canyon history. There was a real Brighty. He lived at Grand Canyon from around 1892 until 1922. He was given the name Bright Angel after the creek that flowed into the Canyon from his summer home on the North Rim, but everyone called him Brighty. He spent his summers carrying water from a spring below the rim to tourist accommodations on the North Rim. He was tolerant of children, who would ride on his back for hours. Most of the events and people in Marguerite Henry's novel were based on fact: Brighty was the first to cross the new suspension bridge over the Colorado river at the bottom of the Canyon and had helped build it. Brighty had hunted mountain lion with former United States President Theodore Roosevelt.

brighty burro breyer mold

Beginings of the Brighty Story

A libriarian friend handed Marguerite an old worn copy of Sunset Magazine, she read just one paragraph about a burro who migrated like a bird. In winter he played within the deep warmth at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. In summer he high-tailed it up to the north wall to live in the cool forest on the rimtop. In his migrations he helped solve a murder!

bright angel trail

A life size bronze statue of Brighty sits in the lobby of Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim. Bright Angel Point, Grand Canyon Lodge South is located by Arizona Highway Route 67, 43 miles south of junction Alternate U.S. Highway route 89. It is a national historic landmark constructed of massive stone walls and high-timbers.
In a corner of the lodge is the memorial the friendly burro Brighty.
The Brighty statue and photos on the wall tell the story of a dependable fuzzy little burro that inspired the book published in 1953 that also became a Disney movie both are called
"Brighty of the Grand Canyon".
Marguerite Henry's
comment on Brighty's statue:
" the artist captured the soul of Brighty, forever wild, forever free."

Brighty is this spirit of independence and will be remembered for years.

Brighty the burro miniture metal statue

Above is a Brighty miniature burro metal statue created by Elaine J. Kember a collector item from a visit to Grand Canyon.
This started Marguerite go to the Grand Canyon to interview rangers, guides, or anyone else who'd heard of the burro called Brighty. This was the start of the book about Brighty who had uncovered evidence and accused a murderer more plainly than if he had talked. But he worked of his own free will. Just let a stranger approach with packsaddle and Brighty hid himself against gray rock. When the need for him was over, his heehaws of laughter echoed from the walls of the canyon.

On the book's first birthday a surprise letter came to Marguerite from
a Mr. Thomas McKee.
It read :
"In shopping for a grandchild who likes animals, my wife found you story of Brighty. It made us homesick because we are the people who ran Wiley's Camp on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I'm enclosing a picture of the real Brighty. Sitting on his back is his loving companion my son Bob. We knew in a twinkling that our Bob was the Homer Hobbs of your story."

Homer was the only character she had invented. All the others Teddy Roosevelt, Old Timer, Uncle Jimmy Owen - are real.

Marguerite had to invent a boy in the story to help Brighty load and unload the tins when he packed water to Wiley's Camp. Here was a fictional character who turned out to be real.

Brighty's book received the William Allen White Award in 1956.
Wouldn't this have pleased Brighty (had he still been alive)?

Stephen Booth, believed that Brighty should be made into a motion picture. Also it was filmed on location - in the depths and on the rim of the canyon. Marguerite Henry's very own burro starred in the key role. He was born to the name Jiggs, but he answered to Bighty there after.

photo of Jiggs

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