Articles published in the Blue Mountain Panorama

This blog was created to preserve digitally, articles written by Janet Wilcox for the Blue Mountain Panorama. This newspaper is published in Blanding, Utah by Neil and Becky Joslin. By publishing digitally, more photographs can be added, and your comments and corrections can be quickly noted. Thanks for reading my articles in the newspaper, as well as on the Internet. If you have ideas for stories, please contact me at

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Spring Cleaning at Bluff Fort -March 1, 2012

Part of the volunteer group who came to help at Bluff Fort March 1, 2012
LaRue Barton, fort director gives instructions for cleaning.

March 1 was Spring cleaning for Bluff Fort, and nearly 50 volunteers arrived like a lion to get the 14 cabins spiffed up and the chapel, Relief Society building, and grounds ready for a new season.  LaRue Barton, director of the Visitors Center, was exuberant in her appreciation of those who came to help. 

This is What They did:

A lizard in the Relief Society
building was taken outside

LaVerne Tate and Karen Kartchner, clean inside the Relief Society building

LaMar Helquist, one of the permanent volunteers at the fort cleans away winter debris

Shauna Hurst and LaRue Barton move vacumn cleaners using the fort hand carts

Patsy Shumway and Betty Rock from Blanding 2nd ward helped clean the chapel

The Mahon sisters gave rugs and curtains in the Perkins Cabin a good airing 

Heather Meyer, Shauna Hurst learn from Lanell Stringham, how to dust quilts from Barton Cabin

The Fahey's return the fluffed up and dusted feather tick in the Barton Cabin

The Holiday's helped with dusting in the Old Barton Cabin as well

The Bluff Fort is run by volunteers and each year has its own challenges and rewards. With all the new buildings cleaned and windows washed, that challenge has been met.  The “ground breaking” news in 2012 will be the beginning of construction on the Bluff Coop on the north side of the grounds, which expected to begin this month. 
Sandi Laws and her mom, Clyda Palmer dust and clean.
Clyda actually grew up in Bluff, living in the old Kumen
Jones house that is still partially standing on the Bluff
Fort Historic Site.
Rachel Johnson, Candace Lyman, Lawanna Palmer and Patsy Shumway help
clean the Jens Nielson Cabin, in preparation for Spring tourists.

Leslie Nielson is ready to vacumn the Decker cabin, while Beverly Vowell finishes
windows next door.

Naida Black, Betty Shumway, and Karen Dufur cleaned the Jones cabin 

Steve Wilcox,  Kenna Lee, Erma Redd, Bernice Perkins, and helped clean the grounds.

Marsha Black finds out that hand carts can still be pushed and pulled, as part of
the clean-up detail.

Pam Bronson, Fila Harris, and Jackie Redd complete the finishing touches in one of the 14 cabin.

Last year a strong team of couples helped throughout the tourist season.  The Bartons, Harveys, Taylors, and Rowleys will be returning again for part of the summer, but there is still a gaping docent hole, which LaRue is hoping local people will help fill.

We need couples or two women willing to come for one morning or afternoon each week, LaRue explained. “ They would answer tourists questions, run the cash register, show the video, and if possible, when they are not busy they could work on a quilt or a woven or crocheted rag rug.”  Usually these are local people who work a 5 hr. shift once a week.

In addition, she explained that the fort also needs other couples willing to come for two weeks, or a month to work in the visitor center, and help with whatever needs to be done.  “Sometimes that includes working in the garden, keeping the cabins clean, hoeing weeds, or whatever we are doing.”
For these out of town volunteers, Mrs. Barton has a nice 34 foot travel trailer that will be available for docents to stay in.  ""If you are interested, you need to schedule your two weeks right away, so we can schedule the trailer."

LaRue expressed appreciation for all the help given, as the group met to eat lunch at Twin Rocks
 While working for a couple of weeks or a month, there will be time for seeing the local tourist spots as well.  Contact information is LaRue Barton  435 459 2092    email   .  The phone number at the visitor center is 435 672 9995

The end of a great morning of cleaning-- visiting and eating a delicious lunch at the Twin Rocks:

40 plus volunteers showed up to help, also filled the Twin Rocks cafe for lunch

Volunteers enjoyed the sunny pleasantries of good company and good food at Twin Rocks

Nothing like a Navajo burger, or Navajo Tacos at Twin Rocks

Talking Comb: Ramblings on the Earth’s Backbone

It’s no easy trick to cram seven years of Comb Ridge research and documentation into 1 ½ hours -- especially when that research covers 13,000 years.  Archaeologist Winston Hurst made a valiant stab at the daunting task on Feb. 25, as he discussed pre-history, basketmakers and early pueblo findings along the 77 mile “backbone of the earth.”   

With many more slides and hours of information left to cover, the large audience agreed with his suggestion of  reconvening another time at the Edge of the Cedars Museum for a 2nd and possibly a 3rd session where late Pueblo, Ute, Navajo, and pioneer history related to Comb Ridge will be discussed..
Traditional peoples, which Hurst defined as “non-industrialized cultures,” have always looked to landmarks in their surroundings, “which are pregnant with importance and symbolism,”.  Hurst explained how Comb Ridge which forms a cross with the San Juan River, has been regarded as the “cosmic center point” or “spine of the world.”

For over 50 years scouts and school classes have hiked the Posey Trail on Comb Ridge
Lynn Lyman was a frequent presented at
Comb Ridge Scout Hikes
For many local people “non-industrialized” or not, Comb Ridge plays an important role in more recent history with its geographical, geological and archaeological significance.   Hurst described his life-long love of that particular area, and his role in the 2005-2010 Comb Ridge Heritage Initiative, a state funded project covering 44,000 acres.  Because of the expanse of the area which is dotted with hundreds of sites, funds ran out before all archeological sites could be studied.  However, 800 sites were formally surveyed, which is about 1/30th of the total sites in San Juan County.

Sites surveyed include the historic Perkins Ranch site of the 1880’s clear back to Prehistoric trails and roads.  The University of Denver did earlier surveys in the 1970’s and their discoveries were curated in the Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake City.  All those sites, plus hundreds more were replotted using new technology like gps.  Every site was photographed and identified by a number and multi page entries were documented.  This data base is kept at the Utah Statewide Archaeological survey archives and is managed by the State of Utah. 

Hurst emphasized often that information of archaeic people and paleo-Indians is “very sparse” but that there is some evidence in Comb Ridge related to that 11,000 BC-1000 BC era.  Clovis points have been found, and rock art portraying a large Mammoth exist.  In addition Clyde Barton in the 1950’s found a large 40” femur bone of a mammoth, which is displayed in the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding.
Much evidence of these early people was likely bulldozed up when the new Bi-centennial highway cut through Comb Wash.  This area is also a popular recreation/camp area, which compounds the problem of using the valley for research.  However, archaic rock art along the San Juan River and a rare Clovis find made by Andrew Goodman (EOC employee) has reconfirmed the belief that people have been in the area since 11,000.

One of many rock art panels adjacent to Comb Ridge
Hurst showed slides of rock art created in different time periods, which helped show the development of culture over the centuries in the Comb Ridge area.  Early Basket Maker people did not make pottery but did raise corn and turkeys.  The Classic Basket Makers (1500-2000 BC) were in Comb Wash, with one site excavated by Bill Davis and Debra Westenfall. Bigger and more permanent pit houses mark the Late Basketmaker era which lasted from 450 -725 AD.  Many of these are found in the Butler Wash area on the East side of Comb.
The final part of the slide show discussed the Early Pueblo era when redware pottery began to appear in the area between 750-950 AD.  There was a population explosion with villages developing, and two-three story pueblos being built.  Monarch Cave is one area where it is easy to see the beam sockets where poles were used to support multi-leveled homes or prior civilizations. Totally new pottery techniques developed and citadels were built for protection as well as shrines. 

For information on the later ramblings around Comb, look for slide show #2 and #3 at Edge of the Cedars Museum.