Oral Histories

Blankenagel, Norma P.




Oral Transcript
During a recording session on May 21, 1997,
Lula Delong recorded the following history of the La Sal, Utah area, as presented by Norma Blankenagel.

I am from La Sal, Utah which is 30 miles south of Moab, and I live nearby at Rattlesnake Ranch. We have lived at Rattlesnake Ranch since 1952. I wanted especially to give a little history on the La Sal area.

The Name La Sal – Father Escalante’s trail runs past the La Sal Mountains as does the Old Spanish Trail, which was the longest, toughest, pack mule route in the history of the whole United States. So it has a lot of interesting history. We believe they were talking about the snow that looked like salt on top of the mountains. This is how La Sal got its name. La Sal is French for salt. It’s also Spanish for salt, so whether it was Spanish conquistadors or the French trappers came in or who ever it was, they named it salt, which is La Sal.

The Coming of the Mormon Church and the Elk Mountain Mission – Early in 1854, the Mormon Church sent a group of men to the Moab area, and they were called the Elk Mountain Mission. They thought the La Sals were the Elk Mountains and this is why it (the fort) is called the Elk Mountain Mission. The Elks are much further south towards Blanding. This group was lead by Alfred Billings, and I think there were about thirteen men in it. Two of them were my great-great grandfathers, Colonel James Russell Ivie and his son, Colonel John Ivie. The Elk Mountain Mission was the first group of white people into the Moab area. They had 15 wagons and came by way of the Old Spanish trail to Moab. A previous group of men led by William D. Huntington and Jackson Stewart arrived at the bluff above the Grand River, now called the Colorado River. They couldn’t find a way off the bluff and into Moab valley, so they let their five wagons down the 25 foot bluff, piece by piece, with ropes.

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