Event Title

Settlement in Desolation Canyon, 1880-1940

Presenter Information

James M. Aton

Location

TSC East Ballroom

Event Website

https://water.usu.edu/

Start Date

4-1-2008 12:45 PM

End Date

4-1-2008 1:45 PM

Description

Near the end of the frontier period in the late 1880s, cattlemen and then sheepmen grabbed at the last chance for grass and water. They found it along the Green River in Desolation Canyon. The settlement period lasted about sixty years. In the river bottoms ranchers like Jim McPherson, Dan and Bill Seamount, and Preston Nutter discovered luxuriant native bunch grasses. In addition they had a continuous water source in the Green and in its many side canyons like Nine Mile, Rock Creek, and Florence Creek. Ranchers irrigated out of those creeks—for both domestic use and for alfalfa. The first ranch at Florence Creek was started by Jim McPherson and his uncles in 1887. Jim ran a model operation for over forty years. Around 1905 his in-laws, the Seamount brothers, bought out Shed Lunt’s ranch upstream at Rock Creek. Sheepmen came into the area by the turn of the century. They required ferries to carry the sheep across the river between winter ranges on the Pariette Bench and summer ranges on the East Tavaputs. Hank Stewart ran two different ferries, at Tia Juana Bottom in 1915 and then at Sand Wash in 1920. Ute Indians like Red Moon, who clashed with Stewart, grazed their horses in the river bottoms. A copper mill south of Ouray, the Uteland Mine, prospered for a short time around 1911. Its owners used the Green’s water to process copper. A Carey Act water project saw promoter O.S. Buell attempt to dam the river at Coal Creek in 1906. Like the Uteland Mine, it failed. A truly “beneficial use” of water in the area went to moonshining, especially once Prohibition took effect in 1920. Ben Morris and Frank Hyde were two of the most prominent at that trade. By 1940 most settlers had left the area. The Taylor Grazing Act, the Indian Reorganization Act, World War II, the development of synthetic materials, and better jobs in the defense industry all helped push settlers elsewhere. Desolation returned to its name.

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Apr 1st, 12:45 PM Apr 1st, 1:45 PM

Settlement in Desolation Canyon, 1880-1940

TSC East Ballroom

Near the end of the frontier period in the late 1880s, cattlemen and then sheepmen grabbed at the last chance for grass and water. They found it along the Green River in Desolation Canyon. The settlement period lasted about sixty years. In the river bottoms ranchers like Jim McPherson, Dan and Bill Seamount, and Preston Nutter discovered luxuriant native bunch grasses. In addition they had a continuous water source in the Green and in its many side canyons like Nine Mile, Rock Creek, and Florence Creek. Ranchers irrigated out of those creeks—for both domestic use and for alfalfa. The first ranch at Florence Creek was started by Jim McPherson and his uncles in 1887. Jim ran a model operation for over forty years. Around 1905 his in-laws, the Seamount brothers, bought out Shed Lunt’s ranch upstream at Rock Creek. Sheepmen came into the area by the turn of the century. They required ferries to carry the sheep across the river between winter ranges on the Pariette Bench and summer ranges on the East Tavaputs. Hank Stewart ran two different ferries, at Tia Juana Bottom in 1915 and then at Sand Wash in 1920. Ute Indians like Red Moon, who clashed with Stewart, grazed their horses in the river bottoms. A copper mill south of Ouray, the Uteland Mine, prospered for a short time around 1911. Its owners used the Green’s water to process copper. A Carey Act water project saw promoter O.S. Buell attempt to dam the river at Coal Creek in 1906. Like the Uteland Mine, it failed. A truly “beneficial use” of water in the area went to moonshining, especially once Prohibition took effect in 1920. Ben Morris and Frank Hyde were two of the most prominent at that trade. By 1940 most settlers had left the area. The Taylor Grazing Act, the Indian Reorganization Act, World War II, the development of synthetic materials, and better jobs in the defense industry all helped push settlers elsewhere. Desolation returned to its name.

https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/runoff/2008/AllAbstracts/37