Oral Histories

Alan D. “Tug” Wilson


AW: He headed one.

Q: He had a pretty good idea and when I got a right to Shenandoah I had one and I realized what you get yourself into. It’s a real painful hassle you get yourself.

AW: I think one of his disappointments, by the way, was, as I recall, the original proposal. I don’t know the exact acreage but let’s say nominally a million acres of that which included much more of the Lockhart Basin up to Devil’s Point area, etc. and in one of the original proposals, I don’t know the acreage but I know what his view was just the whole place should be a park. The only thing that I was a little upset was, and we never really got to discuss it in great depth, was to me Dead Horse Point should have been part of it. It should have been the focal point for Island in the Sky and somehow that slipped out of the Park Service hands. Because that is really the key jewel

Q: Well, you know how that happened.

AW: I don’t know how it happened. I know it happened. It probably was a political compromise of some sort.

Q: Yeah, because the Park Service had offered to help add this branch of State Park to the system. Utah had no State Park system. They started the State Park system by looking first at Dead Horse Point and we were stuck. Your dad and I both had to take people out and show them. I took Slim Hansen and an old guy who was on the State Park Board. He’d been instrumental in getting Grand Tetons set aside. He was a lawyer involved with the Rockefellers, Fagin, Harold Fagin. I took them out because your dad wasn’t around that day and had something else. Anyway, there was your Jeep and maybe we had a Jeep by that time. I took Harold and he was sitting in the back and Slim Hansen, who had been a Forest Service supervisor, and he was the brand new State Park supervisor with no parks. We went out and we looked at Dead Horse Point, went out that old road and then we went out to the Grand View. On the way out to Grand View we topped over a little rise and here was a drill pad and it was total disaster. It was typical in those days, oil drums, keg roll, wooden stuff, garbage, the whole bit and old Slim Hansen said “What’s this?” I said “Well, this is a drill pad. This is multiple use.” Of course multiple use was a catch word in the Forest Service. God, he got irritated at me and he said “Well, at least they’re using it” and I said “They sure as hell are.” I looked back and old Fagin was just enjoying it.

AW: Well, it would have been nice to have had Dead Horse.

Q: Yeah. But we were kind of obligated to help the State Park system get the damn thing, which we did, to our chagrin. You know we just really didn’t have that much to say about it. This is going to quit here in just a minute. I think that’s enough. I want to save some for another time.

AW: I’m not saying all the first night, otherwise you’d have no excuse to come back.

That was the story on why they got Dead Horse Point and one of the local guys, old Ed Klaus, they put him on the (END OF TAPE )

Addendum to interview: While reviewing and making corrections, Lloyd Pierson told the story of the horse called “Ruins” (pg 33) which they had mentioned during the interview. Apparently, the horse was necessary to ride along the boundaries of the area they were in at the time to protect the ruins but there was no money in the official budget for a horse. McKinney bought the horse and named him Ruins and, in the future, submitted expenses for “hay for ruins stabilization” and was always reimbursed!

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