Moab History: Explore the historic Barnes photo collection

Tower near the Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park [Moab Museum Collection, 1965]
Viewing the Marching Men rock formation between Arches National Park and Klondike Bluffs [Moab Museum Collection]

In 2020, with a generous grant from the Utah State Historic Advisory Board, the Moab Museum began digitizing the Fran and Terby Barnes Photo Collection. The goals of the digitization process have been to share historic images with the public and to use images to enhance current and future exhibits. The museum, and the Barnes family, hope that public access to these historically-relevant and regionally-specific images will inspire continued research by local students, researchers, and scientists near and far, and will inspire public interest in canyon country and the natural sciences. 

The Collection, which has been available through the Southern Utah University Gerald R. Sherratt Library, is now publicly available through the Grand County Public Library. To see the full collection, visit, select “History and Archives,” search for “Moab Museum,” and select the “Moab Museum SUU Fran and Terby Barnes Collection.” 

Who was Fran Barnes? 

Francis A. “Fran” Barnes (1922-2003) was an avid traveler and photographer who dedicated most of his life from 1965 onward to documenting the natural wonders of the desert Southwest surrounding Moab, Utah. Fran was also an accomplished writer, publishing scores of guidebooks as well as articles for outdoor magazines and columns for prominent newspapers. He was involved in local civic affairs, serving on the Grand County Travel Council and on the Bureau of Land Management’s Advisory Board. The Collection includes over 50,000 images in various formats as well as negatives, collected between 1960 and 2008. Enjoy some of Fran’s images in this week’s column and explore more via the Grand County Public Library. 

The Titan in the Fisher towers with the Cobra in the foreground, which has since fallen [Moab Museum Collection]

This article was originally published in the Moab Sun News on June 2, 2023.