Anyone know what a docent is?
Half a cent? Two cents? Those who “do” ?
Hint: The Bluff Fort has nearly two dozen of them. Some of them include local residents Neldon and Bobbie Holt, Karl and LaRue Barton, Beverly Vowell, Karen Dufer, Joyce Martin, Donna Washburn, Bernice Hurst, Max & Sandy Black, Pam Bronson, and Judy Lyman.
Give up? A docent is one who teaches or lectures, often serving as a volunteer at museums, historic sites, and galleries. The Fort site has now expanded and visitors have increased to the point that a real push is on to recruit docents to help meet the needs of the many visitors who were coming each day. In 2010 there were about 1500 visitors. From March 3 of this year to June 30 there have been 5,376 visitors to this historic site.
Bobbie Holt explained how they became docents, “Last Fall we were here visiting the Fort with our daughter and grandkids and Steve Bronson, director of the Fort, asked us if we’d like to be tour guides at the Fort, and we thought it would be a good thing to do; so here we are.”
Bobbie told of a recent experience she had at the Fort, “Last Saturday while we were here substituting at the Fort, we had an amazing thing happen. A German couple came in, and as we visited I told them I was going to
this fall.” She explained that she was going to St. Ingbert about 50 miles south of Germany Frankfurt, and the couple said they lived very close to that area. Then they asked her who she was going to see. “I told them it was my sister Shirley and her husband Theo Herzer and I was dumbfounded, when they said, they knew them!” Ironically, the visitor and Theo are both ministers in protestant churches in that area.
That same Saturday, Bobbie explained that at one time there were five languages being spoken: Russian, German, Spanish, Italian and English. The Fort is fast becoming the multi-lingual gathering point of San Juan.
Another local volunteer docent is Ariella Thomas who moved to Montezuma Creek 6 months ago to teach Kindergarten. “I needed something to do this summer, and came looking for a job.” There were no paid jobs, but lots of volunteer needs, so she decided to help. “This experience has helped me learn to love the area. When I moved here I thought it was the ugliest place in the world, and now because I’ve learned so much, I really enjoy being here.”
Other docents at the Fort come from out-of-town and include Lorraine and Dennis Harvey from Casa Grande, Az, Elaine and Frank Rowley from Coolidge, Colo, Jim and Mitzi Perkins from Boise, and Ron and Lorraine Barton from St. George. They will be in
through the summer and live in camp trailers while volunteering at the Fort. Earlier docents who served at the Fort were George and Lark Flannigan from Cedar City area, Bill and LoraLee Hall from St George, Corrine and Howard Hurst from Calif, Grant and Erleen Taylor from Highland , Keith and Geri Nielson from Utah, County, and Lamomi Sampson also from Utah county. San Juan
|Steve Bronson, Bluff Fort Director|
Future Docents coming in the next few weeks include Russell and Peggy Capson from So. Jordan, and Lamar and Colleen Helquist. In Sept. Wayne and Marva Hancock from Springville, and Erma Redd will be coming to help. Fort Director, Steve Bronson, added, “ We need about four more local docents to help us finish up this season and we could really use some local volunteers to help us for a few hours on Sundays.“
Docents at Bluff Fort, are multi-talented volunteers and do much more than explain and lecture. They also garden, water, organize, run the gift shop, clean cabins, bake zucchini bread, and greet the public. Director Bronson thinks they are the best. ”How wonderful and great they are! We have some wonderful people working here, who have a great willingness to serve. I can’t say enough good things about them. They have really spruced things up!”
In the early days when the idea of Bluff Fort was incubating in Corrine Roriring’s mind, Karl and LaRue Barton were the first docents and directors of the complex. Last Fall, LaRue stepped down when Steve Bronson came on board. Corinne Roriing paid tribute the Bartons at that time, “We would particularly like to thank LaRue Barton, outgoing Visitors Center Director, for the great work she has done. She worked tirelessly for three years to advance the mission of Bluff Fort.”
Every state in the union has been represented in visits to the Fort this year, except
, and people from 44 foreign countries have come. In the two hours we were there Friday July 8, we spoke to Frenchmen, Scotts, Irish, and people from Tennessee . Belgium
So what is bringing tourists to this unobtrusive piece of real estate commemorating the survival and sticki-ta—tudy of the 1880 Hole-in-the-Rock Pioneers? It’s certainly not glaring neon lights, loud music, and colorful buildings. None of modern technology’s fancy recreation draws is needed to tell the Bluff pioneers’ simple, yet dramatic story of dedication and survival in the wildest country in the west. Not only did they survive, but they did it all while carving a road across the rugged, unmapped morass between Escalante and Bluff,
. These are the stories the docents share with visitors. Utah
The cabins, stories, memorials and friendly visits with docents help to make a memorial experience for those who visit the site. One visitor from
wrote, “God bless the souls of all these pioneers.” Morocco
wrote, “Great to see sheer will power wins through this history lesson.” England
Steve Bronson claims there is a unique spirit there, different than ay other place. He recalled visiting with Kirk Nielson once, who told him: “I can’t even say the word “Bluff” without tears coming to my eyes.” After visiting the Fort most leave Bluff Fort with the same feeling of awe and admiration. If you have questions call the Fort at 435-672-9995