|Paper||Canyon Country Zephyr|
|Rights||In Copyright (InC)|
|Rights Holder||Tonya Auden Stiles, Moab, Utah|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
|Paper||Canyon Country Zephyr|
a cliff face of the Kaiparowits on one of his flights to Escalante. We campaigned for a safer Escalante-Boulder road, a dangerous and narrow road linking the two towns. The road served the transport of Boulder school children to Escalante. There was no dispute here, and soon the road received more funding and better improvements. We did argue about other roads, particularly the Boulder Mountain route to Wayne County. I disputed the need for paving it, but Nethella Woolsey, our road committee chairman and former legislator, worked hard to secure the funding for it. I felt ‘an all-weather route, the Burr Trail, would have been better. 1 soon reversed my reasoning and opposed the Burr Trail route when the Boulder Mountain route became a reality. We only needed one road, I thought. We talked a lot about tourism, thinking that it would bring in much needed income. So we researched the ways and means of making the Boulder highway a "national parkway,” patterned after the Blue Ridge Parkway. We strived to improve the look of our town. I was chagrined when Nethella also campaigned to remove old broken-down barns, and this issue elicited some debate at our Chamber meeting. The installation of aluminum siding on many old homes resulted from past efforts. And Nethella often chastised the citizenry when they’d call the town’s name “Escalant." Kind of a lazy hick-town sound, she said. Historian bent, she compiled and published her book The Escalante Story, a history of the community from the time of its settlement in 1875 to 1964. She included many unsmiling and stern portraits of the old timers---many of them having that pioneerish and hardened look. My cousin Jared Porter's picture could scare the bejeeze out of anyone. © I spent much of my time in the canyons, but I frequented Coyote Gulch more than any other canyon. It includes Jacob Hamblin and Coyote natural bridges, and Jug Handle Arch. I suppose Jacob deserves his name on some feature here. As a Mormon missionary and AROUND THE BEND AGAIN... BY KEN SLEIGHT MEMORIES OF ESCALANTE Stiles asked me if I’d do some more personal scattered reminiscing about my “old canyon days." So in this issue I ride down old memory lane once again putting together bits and pieces of stuff. I had taken many trips down the Colorado River through Glen Canyon, and I found many priceless experiences. But as 1963 approached, at 34 years of age, me dam’s effects” thrust my mind into an upsetting quandary. That year the reservoir rose at such a rapid rate. God-given treasures faced destruction each day. The reservoir flooded and destroyed many beautiful side canyons and grottos, thousands of ancient Indian ruins and writings, and even the majestic Music Temple and Hidden Passage. For a brief spell, previously, I thought of escaping north to the peaceful and quiet country of the Yukon. But on one night in 1963 as I camped on the river sands at the mouth of the Escalante River, I coneluded that I needed to continue to be close to the land I treasured in spite of the dam. But how? And suddenly it came to me. What a great thought! Why didn’tI think of it sooner! During that entire trip, the thought developed and expanded. It was this: I’d: move my family and myself to one of the most out-of-the-way spots in Utah. I returned home and told my wife Marilyn that we were moving to Escalante! So I turned my attention in 1963 to Escalante and its incredible river canyons. Those years were critical pivotal years for me. Now some 39 years later, I often reflect back to those times and places. I moved to Escalante to take trips, explore the canyons and to raise my family. I rented an old 1917 white-frame house, a block off Main Street. My family followed the following year after school ended. Only about 700 or so people lived in Escalante. The main street held most of the local businesses, and beautiful green alfalfa fields abutted it at both ends. The land and the small farms sloped down to one of the streams that form the Escalante River. The town was settled in 1875, a mere 54 years before my own birth. Most of the scout he traveled to Escalante country even before its settlement. He intended to take needed supplies to John Wesley Powell’s river party at the mouth of the Dirty Devil River. But he goofed as he mistook the Escalante for the Dirty Devil River. Battling the quicksand, his packers moved slowly down the Escalante, about 50 miles it is said. Exhausted and dismayed, the party quit and.returned to Kanab. _ Negotiating this country often comes hard. Going down Coyote Gulch on one trip,a giant part of the wall broke away and tumbled into the creek bottom below forming a natural dam. My old intrepid friend Vaughn Short helped me fashion a detour around the slide, and I hammered a few indents into the sandstone to get our horses and mules around the long pool of water. Everett Ruess, the young wandering poct, branded Davis Gulch asa ‘desitnation favorite merely because he ended up asa Missing person there in 1934. - colonizers came from either Panguitch or Parowan. Some of my ancestors planted their. cultural roots in Escalante too. These included the extended families Of some of the Spencer, Lee, Griffin, and Allen families. Great granddad John Miles taught early school in Escalante, and my grandmother fondly remembered her days there. My great, great Vaughn helped me on many other trips and occasions also. Once on a winter trip, the grandmother Emily Bush Spencer, after becoming widowed, came to the area and she was buried in Cannonville, but I’ve failed to find her gravesite. Escalante still struggled as a very young village when the legendary Hole-in-the-Rock two of us hiked down Coyote in the snow and in twenty-below temperature. God it was cold! At night, we'd pile a bunch of wood next to us so that we'd merely have to reach our arms out to throw a stick onto the fire. Vaughn was the hero as he kept the iss blazing colonizing party passed through in 1879 on its way to the San Juan River country. The large party, some of its members my own distant relatives, made the trip in six months, a trip they thought would last only six weeks. My mind’s eye sees them cuttin’ up at Dance Hall Rock. For all the trip’s warts and faults, it surely wound up as.a good faith-promoting story. Robert and Louise Liston, my neighbors, lived just across the street. Robert was a real as I dug deeper into my sack. cowboy while Louise was a friendly and talented teacher who'later transforrried herself into a prominent and outspoken county commissioner.. And down the street, my friends John 1‘ and.Lola Zenz owned a lapidary shop. They cut and sawed pieces of local petrified wood “into striking shapes and multi-colored table tops and sold them to admirers and to tourists. Though nearly blind, John did marvelous work. - I spent a lot of time at cousin Mohr Christensen’s Moqui Motel. My clients met there and at the other rustic-looking motels in Escalante when coming on trips. Mohr later became the mayor of the town.. When not down in the canyons, I'd stroll down daily to Whitey’s Café. A few of us formed our-own little cluster and a table always awaited us. I claimed a favored seat, as I liked to sit facing the entrance door checking out all who entered. (I could then either greet the person or take evasive or protective action.) Some old-timers and we newcomers joined together to help solve the town’s economic problems. From it, we organized a Chamber of Commerce and I became its first president. ‘However, Ray Fynan pretty much kept the thing going. She was an accomplished woman with ideas-—energetic and sometimes aggressive but quite good-looking. We held our Meetings at the old school house. Before long, we recruited some 26 members or so. Because of our town-meeting format, additional townsfolk drifted in from time to time. We | made known the issues to be discussed before hand, and this proved quite successful. It was a sort of a debating society, and I’ve had occasional spats with the local people over the years. Friends and neighbors often an active part in the community we could forum. Members dedicated many hours printed the town’s rules and ordinances. do that in a small town, and as long we all had talk our differences out. This provided a great to the cause. For instance, we compiled and We helped to find a competent and dedicated doctor in the person of Dr. Kazan of Page. He flew his own plane to Escalante to care for our people a couple of days a week. Tragically, he was killed when his plane crashed into One day rancher Reeves Barker came to my office and asked to be coitsidered for a wrangling job. It was obvious I needed good hands so I immediately hired him and he soon became my head wrangler. Another cowboy, Mac LaFevre, froma ranch near Boulder also admirably fit the bill. 1 hired others when I needed them. Not only did I hire local men,| leased their horses and mules, and they would often supply their own trucks to haul them. And Lloyd Gates continually helped me in arranging and acquiring pack stock. His . son Lynn operated the local gas station and garage and helped me keep my small Ford ~-pickup in the best possible shape. I knew the lower Escalante River canyon quite well as I had explored much of it by repeated hikes from the boats. Clear Creek and the Cathedral-in-the-Desert proved popular and enchanting destinations.I remember my first time there. In parting the branches of the willows that stood at its entrance, I took a look inside. I was astounded, just astounded and yet so dismayed. I knew that the reservoir would soon destroy this most enchanting temple. There were many canyons to explore. Gregory Natural Bridge became a deunaden site. Heartbreaking it was to later see the reservoir completely close ue opening of the Bridge and then to cover it completely. We often visited the wondrous Broken Bow Arch in Willow Gulch. My old friend and trip canyoneer, the indefatigable Edna Fridley, kept returning with me, as it was one of her favorite canyons. Downstream below Broken Bow we'd hike and climb into the narrow confines of 40-mile creek, sometimes referred to by the descriptive but unsuitable characteristic---slot canyon. Why not slit canyon, or slut canyon? When I first went overland into Davis Gulch, Lloyd Gates drew me a crude map. With pencil in his hand, he directed me to a point on a mesa where the stock trail quickly dropped into the canyon. He would pronounce a mesa---"may-see.” Damned if I didn’t pick the expression up too. The longerI lived among the Escalantans the more I talked like them, a decided improvement over my own local-yokel style. Everett Ruess, the young wandering poet, branded Davis Gulch as a destination favorite merely because he ended up as a missing person there in 1934. He left his traces in the ruins and writings on the walls and so the "Everett Ruess Natural Window" becomes a testament to his memory. I delighted in guiding his brother Waldo there.