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Grand Canyon Worker Keeps Mule Train Operations Running Smoothly

About the only thing that Anderson Mann does not do well is relax, or so says his wife, Jackie. Serving in building maintenance at the mule barn for Xanterra’s South Rim Mule Operation, Mann says his duties include just about anything and everything he needs to do to keep the world-famous mule livery functioning.   

From cleaning the barn, packing supplies in and out of Phantom Ranch, trail maintenance, general repairs, cleaning, saddling up guests from around the globe and assisting with duffels for Colorado river runners, Mann loves it all. 

“I came to the Grand Canyon 29 years ago and started work here as a cook at Xanterra’s (then Fred Harvey) employee cafeteria. One day, a friend came in and asked me to come work at the mule barn, so I did.” In the six years since, Mann has never regretted that decision.  

He met his wife, Jackie, a few years after moving to the Grand Canyon Village and has a son, Andrew, and daughter, Fancelia Rose, who were born and raised at the Grand Canyon Village.  

“He is one of the most hard-working and well-rounded individuals we have,” said Xanterra South Rim Director of Transportation Nora Berry. “I wish we had more like him.”  

Mann has won two employee achievement awards in the last year.  

Mann’s love for the mules is evident in their love for him. While working in the corral, the one- to two-thousand pound equines prance around him like puppies responding immediately to his whistles. “The mules are smarter than we are. We could learn a lot from mules,” Mann said. “They look you right in the eyes and can read your mind, and if you mistreat them, they’ll mistreat you. So, it’s important you treat them right, like your kids.”  

Born outside of Ganado on the Navajo Reservation, Mann grew up around horses and cows, and claims that mules are the hardest workers. “They can carry up to 250 pounds on the canyon trails and they’re really good with people.”   

“Anderson is the best,” said Xanterra wrangler Cindy Brederson. “He always has our back and helps out by retrieving supplies we forget and so much more. He is family and always makes the day more enjoyable.” 

 

What inspires you? 

“Riding a mule down the Grand Canyon early in the morning when the sun is rising. I really enjoy the sunrise, especially when it’s cloudy. The canyon changes color and makes me feel really good, and I like to say my prayers early in the morning riding down.” 

 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? 

“My wife, Jackie, is always advising me to slow down, get some rest, relax, but it’s a hard thing for me to do. I lost my mom and dad when I was young. Their passing stirred in me a passion to keep moving around. It keeps my mind focused but I know I need to listen to Jackie and rest.” 

 

Where do you like to travel? 

“I like to go back to the reservation. I have livestock there and I like to ride my horses there. That’s my priority, to visit my family and look after my livestock.” 

 

If you had a million dollars to give away, where would it go? 

“I would give it to the school here at the Grand Canyon and the day care center here, the Kaibab Learning Center. They help us [the community] a lot and do a really good job.”    

 

 

When they make the movie about you, who will play you? 

“John Wayne.” FBN 

 

By Veronica Tierney, FBN 

 

Photo caption: Anderson Mann takes good care of the Grand Canyon mules so that they can take good care of the guests. 

Photo by Veronica Tierney 

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