Past Exhibit

Butch Cassidy was Here: Historic Inscriptions of the Colorado Plateau

During the summer of 2022, a temporary exhibit explores a fascinating array of intertwined histories. Featuring a treasure trove of photographs from across the region documented by rock inscription experts and backcountry adventurers James Knipmeyer and Mike Ford, Butch Cassidy Was Here: Historic Inscriptions of the Colorado Plateau weaves together the records left behind by trappers, traders, missionaries, government expeditions, cowboys, outlaws, homesteaders, explorers, and others. The exhibit, featuring a diverse array of photographs and stories, introduces visitors to a sampling of rock inscriptions from Moab and across the region, and also pays homage to the research contributions of history experts Knipmeyer and Ford.

Why Inscriptions?

For thousands of years, people have left their mark on the canyon walls of the Southwest. While today, carving into rocks constitutes vandalism, historic inscriptions from past centuries can help historians piece together past chapters of human history. Take a look at some of the stories on display!

  • Boat Wreck Inscription

    This inscription, left in 1891, chronicles a boat wrecked on the Colorado River. This is one of numerous inscription photographs in Knipmeyer's collection. 

  • A Colorful Array

    Knipmeyer's vibrant inscription photographs in the Museum's south gallery.

  • Pace Inscription

    Inscription left by "Hole-in-the-Rock" mission settler J.H. Pace near Bluff, Utah. 

  • Explore the Exhibit

    A Museum guest exploring the exhibit, which includes photographs and objects chronicling the backcountry explorations of Knipmeyer and Ford as they searched for thousands of inscriptions over the course of decades.

  • Behunin

    Across Utah, numerous inscriptions record attempts by missionaries to colonize new areas. I.M. Behunin was a member of the 1855 Elk Mountain Mission, sent by the Mormon church in an attempt to colonize the Moab Valley. This inscription was carved as the party was making their way to Moab. 

  • Stories

    At the June 7th exhibit opening event, Knipmeyer shared stories of his longtime research passion with Museum Members.

Inscription photographs by Jim Knipmeyer.