June 18th, 10:26pm
Zion National Park really took us by surprise with a full schedule of interpretive ranger programs. We signed up for a shuttle tour, and were lucky to get on board with Ranger Jamie Mansfield, an anthropologist who studied at the University of Oregon. Informally titled, “Home Sweet Home in Zion Canyon,” Jamie took us to four stops along the scenic Zion Canyon Drive illustrating the history w settlers making a home in this canyon.
Pointing out markers of an old aqueduct line, Jamie showed us how important water from the year-round Virgin River (extremely important in the desert) was to early settlers like the Crawford and Behunin families. At Cable Mountain, we observed the remnants of the Draw Works, a cable lift that brought good pine wood from the tops of the canyon to build shelters for the families in the canyon like the still-standing Grotto House. At Heaps Canyon, Jamie spoke of farming practices of both Native American and Mormon settlers. Although the land never produced the cotton that Brigham Young had originally sent his fellow Mormons to grow, it did provide enough wheat, corn, alfalfa, sorghum, and other crops to sustain life.
We’ve discovered on this trip many of the ways home can be political and practical, and Jamie’s tour gave us a great overview of human history in Zion, with conditions that provided for a life in the canyon.