Oral Histories

Alan D. “Tug” Wilson

b.1936

Q:On the aerial photos?

AW: On the aerial photos. When I was a sophomore, 1952, we were going to find Angel Arch and the first night out, Doc Allen by the way was a pillar in Moab, came with us that day and I got extremely sick. It turns out that I ended up having the mumps or the measles. I think it was the measles.

Q: Is that when you ended up at the Dugout?

AW: That’s when my dad drove me back to Dugout and Jimmy Walker drove from

Moab to the Dugout and picked me up to return to Moab. Before Jimmy arrived I was put in Freddy’s bed. (END OF SIDE 1, TAPE A) He might have been a Basque. He was crippled and he spoke with a speech impediment, but he had a heart of gold.

Q: Freddy with a heart of gold.

AW: Freddy with a heart of gold. He was crippled, maybe with a speech impediment and a hunchback type of shoulder, but he had a heart of gold. He would do anything for you and he became our contact at Dugout. He was about the only person who was always there.

Q: What did he do?

AW: I suspect he was a handyman of everything. At some point, and I don’t know what year it was, but it was probably summer ‘52 or ‘53, I had to drive down and put a generator and a pump in for them when I worked for Mr. Foote. I took a van down that road. Freddy was the guy that I worked with there. He would also (help?) on our trips if we ran low on gas, although they didn’t like it I’m sure, he would give us, sell us for a good price five gallons worth of gasoline for the Jeeps.

Q: Good Joe?

AW: To get us out of there, right. I don’t remember many of the other cowboys. They were always around but they were always coming and going. They were tough guys. I’ll tell you about one cowboy experience we had with the scouts. In ‘53 we had gone over Elephant Hill. I had my Jeep, my first Jeep (photo included). Monk Bailey had a little yellow Jeep and I think Bob Robertson had a Jeep of his uncle or his father, a brand new one. Anyway, we spent two weeks in the Needles. Father came for one week and Bill Hines came. We wrapped a deer in a bedroll in a tarp, Monk Bailey’s tarp. We would unroll one layer a day to have our meat. It had been frozen. Near the end of the trip we’re camped at Angel Arch, the mouth of Angel Arch. We camped right at the mouth of Angel Arch canyon and Salt Creek. We drank coffee which, while the non-Mormon kids drank coffee, the Mormon kids usually did not, but somebody had miscalculated how much coffee we needed for the trip, which was not uncommon. Anyway, they never dumped the grounds out, so every morning they would just boil this pot up again. The water at Salt Creek was not very good right at the mouth of Angel Arch canyon. Anyway, we’re eating breakfast and a cowboy comes riding down from upper Salt Creek on a beautiful horse and he sees this motley crew. We asked him “Like to have a cup of coffee” and he says “I’d never turn a cup of coffee down”. So he gets off his horse, dropped the rein, sits down on his haunches and Monk Bailey pours him a cup of coffee. He took about four sips of that, said not another word, got back on his horse and rode off. It must have been terrible (coffee!). We didn’t know any better. We drove our Jeeps that year to the Jump and that year there was nothing at the Jump but the jump. (photo of boys on slick rock sunning themselves). A couple years later there was a green trailer of some sort that the miners were keeping their dynamite in. (photo included)

Q: You’re talking about the Jump up on Salt Creek?

AW: Upper Jump on the east fork of Salt Creek. We explored all the way up to the meadows on that trip, from the Jump. All of it. We hiked up. We didn’t camp up there. We did long day trips. We went to all of the ruins. There’s a whole series of ruins and things on I guess it’s got to be the south facing cliffs, where the All American Man is. We climbed all of that stuff.

Q: There’s one (?) that they refer to as Saw House, clear back in the ‘20s Saw House sat up there. I was amazed. Everything else is kiva dwellings and here’s this one little village right out in middle of the kiva, southeast corner (?). Were they building roads at the same time while you guys were down in there?

AW: Not in ‘52, no. That area was not, as far as I know, had very much uranium exploration at all. The road over Elephant Hill and those things were really just for the Scorup-Sommerville who had a couple of stock tanks and or pens they may have built the rough road over Elephant Hill just to doze a stock tank or two in and around Chesler Park. Any evidence of a road up Salt Creek is easily removed by the large flash floods. But I suspect a wagon and maybe a Jeep or two had gone to the Jump in the early 50’s or before.

Q: Yeah, they did.

AW: They did that work. I don’t believe the miners. The miners did a little, one little mine sometime after ‘52 in Salt Creek. One little tunnel below the branch or east and west Salt Creek. Miners started to work Salt Creek probably in 1954-56.

Q: What about that road up into Chesler Park? That was obviously bulldozed.

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