Oral Histories

Alan D. “Tug” Wilson


AW: That was done by (cattle interests), they tried to make a stock tank (I think.)

Q: Up in Chesler?

AW: In Chesler, right. I believe that was Scorup-Sommerville. I don’t think it was uranium. We went on that road as well. It was a hairy road. I took you on that road in ’59?. One really bad shelf on that road or dugway.

Q: It wasn’t a very steep slope but I couldn’t make it up when (?) on the new Park stays it(?). I went in a Jeep that they borrowed from Santa Fe, our GSA picked it up somewhere and you don’t have guts to make it up that pitch.

AW: But I could gear up.

Q: Yeah, that’s pushing it I’m sure. I’m sure I was pushing. I had pictures of it. I was pushing, Marian was screaming and you were getting a piece.

AW: But anyway, that’s what we did every year and our intent was to locate and identify as many features as we could and to climb to as many arches as we could get into. We climbed to Castle Arch. We climbed everything we could find.

Q: Did you measure them?

AW: Yes. We measured them the best way we could do with triangulation and rope. We wrote all that stuff. Bob Robertson was a very good artist and we made for a Moab scout fair or something like that, a beautiful diorama of Tower Ruin. We made a thing with about four feet in size, the Tower Ruin, which was really nice.

Q: Who kept those?

AW: Who knows. I have no idea what happened to it.

Q: No idea what happened to it. It’s probably down the basement of somebody’s house.

AW: Probably the biggest thrill was when Jennings hired us to do the digs in Beef Basin.

Q: Where you worked on….?

AW: I didn’t work on it. I had my electrical business but there were other scouts who worked in Beef Basin with Beef Basin time.

Q: That’s Jack Rudy’s.

AW: Jack Rudy, right. Beef Basin time was essentially something like 16 hour days and I don’t know how it came about. Anyway, they gained a couple of extra days by working around the clock…so they could spend a long weekend in Moab each 2 weeks or so. The scouts did those digs for the University of Utah.

Q: I recognize some of the names but I didn’t realize it came about because of the scouts. I knew you were involved. You had gotten you and your dad in scouts and your dad had gotten the University of Utah interested and you also got Alice Hunt.

AW: That’s right. It was our mapping of the stuff that convinced Jennings, with my father talking to him many times. He had been to our house often but didn’t think any of it was worthwhile before. With that information we had plus the fact I took pictures. Bob Robertson and I were interested in photography and we both had cameras. We began taking pictures as early as we went in. Not the trip in ‘50 on horseback but every trip after that. I still have those slides. In fact, they were the slides, the base of the slides used for the hearing when it went before Congress.

Q: You were here when I was down by the time they started talking about Canyonlands in the congressional mode. What was your feeling about how things were going. My own personal feelings were that the cowboys never really screamed too loud. They screamed a little bit when Canyonlands was being taken away from them.

AW: You have to realize I left Moab in ‘54 for college and then I came back in the summers where I sold my business to A&E Electric.

Q: You did?

AW: Right. Art Elger and Ray Alger had been on the Dew Line in Canada. To tell you how Moab has changed, when they came through, it must have been 1954, they saw what a boom town this was with beautiful Mormon girls and lots of work. It was a lot warmer than the Dew Line. So they bought my company but what that meant was they took over the liabilities meaning finishing the wiring jobs and with the proviso that they hire me back at union wages in the summers.

Q: It was shrewdy.

AW: So they got instant jobs and they got my stock parts which got them going. Then I had a full time job every summer and every holiday when I came back.

Q: I knew you were working. You were making more money than anybody in the Park Service including your father.

AW: Yes. The summer I worked on the uranium mill in Green River I was making the equivalent of annual salary of $12-13,000.00. Dad was making ~$5,000.00. I didn’t work the full year but I made far more money than the Park Super did.

Q: I know, I know.

AW: The Jeep trips continued when we were in college. When we came back from college in the spring we all, the scouts, still got together and went at different times but we would go as two or three vehicles up through the 50s, late 50s.

Q: You were still in college. I don’t know if you were in graduate school when you took us in ‘56.

AW: No, I went to graduate school in 1959. I went to Cornell University. I took you and the Swiss couple were about the last trip that I made. I think I took you in ‘58.

Q: No, it was ‘57.

AW: ‘57? Then I was still in the University of Utah. Most of my slides from that trip got ruined. I had them processed in Salt Lake and they didn’t do it by Kodak and the slides from that trip got ruined…they were too dark, color off, etc. . I have one picture of you where we camped in Chesler Park (included).

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