Oral Histories

John William (Jack) West


Jack West

Oh, gosh, then Ann, of course, when we decided to move down to Moab, why she wasn’t going to come. She was so involved in things in high school, or in junior high school, that she wasn’t going to come. When I made the announcement that we had a chance to come down here, Jim was ready to leave tomorrow. He was really anxious to come down because we had been visiting down here quite a bit, not with the kids, but Jim was really impressed and wanted to start.

One of the customers that was trading with me for a big part of that time in the new station was George Brown. He represented the Federal Land Bank and had an office in Provo. That area covered all of Southeastern Utah down to the Arizona line and the Colorado line, through Green River, Moab, Monticello, Blanding and all of that. He kept telling me about how wonderful this country was, and in the meantime, I had almost forgot that the Scorups, who owned the Dugout Ranch, lived in a house about two blocks up the street and they traded with me. Old Al Scorup and then his daughter and his grandson and he had control of the Dugout. He owned the Dugout Ranch which at one time was the biggest ranch in the United States, controlled more acreage through lease and ownership and the forest BLM rights than any other. Eventually the King Ranch in Texas outdid him on volume. But they had been talking about how beautiful this country was and they kept wanting me to come down to Dugout and visit them, but I never did. I just felt like it was so far away that it wasn’t worth the trip down to Moab.

So I didn’t do it which was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made in my life because they would have taken me out on some horseback tours that were absolutely out of this world on into what is now Canyonlands National Park. But this George Brown, he was on me too and so finally one day in 1947, it was May, he was coming down and then he was gonna go on further south, but I decided to come as far as Moab with him. We came in separate cars and we came to Moab and stayed overnight at the old Canyonlands Motel that had the Canyonlands Cafe in connection. The next morning we went up the Colorado River up to the Bouldens’ Ranch. He had some business with them. It was just before sunrise and, oh boy, I was so impressed! It was just fantastic. We spent the time there and then he came back to town and took me out to Dead Horse Point in his passenger car. It was all just dirt road then, it wasn’t even gravelled. You had to take off by where the present airport is to get in there. But he took me out there and then, oh gosh, I couldn’t believe it. I followed him in my car as far as what is now La Sal Junction and then went over into La Sal with him. He was getting in touch with Charlie Redd. Charlie Redd was a millionaire then but those guys made money by borrowing money, and George had a lot of business with Charlie. Oh, and one thing I will never forget over there, Charlie had a lot of Spanish/Mexican people working for him. He had housing for them right there at the ranch, and there was a little kid out fishing in a stream that ran right through the housing area. George says, “Have you got a license to do that?” The little kid looked at him and said “It don’t matter, the season ain’t open yet anyway.”

So, that was their attitude out there. Eventually, after we came down here, I got acquainted with a lot of those people and they were real swell. I went home that evening and George went on down to Blanding. Not the next weekend, but the next, Helen and I were back here with another couple, Jim Oldroyd and his wife.

That’s how impressed I was that I talked Helen into coming back, and we were back within a week and a half. We stayed at the Canyonlands Motel, and then we had a big old ’40 Buick with 700×16 tires on which were a little bit oversized but it was a big old car. We drove out to Grandview Point in that car the day after. We stayed overnight here and went on out to Grandview Point. We came back to town and there was a Conoco Station in connection with the Canyonlands Motel, where the Canyonlands Cafe eventually ended up, and on the way back in I had noticed a little noise in the vehicle, in the front wheel. So I went in there and I told people I had been out to Grandview, and they wouldn’t believe me. They said that there was no way you could make it out through that sand and back in a passenger car. But I have pictures to prove it, or slides, that we did get out there. In any event, I told Maury (Maury Robertson and Curt were in there) about it and this noise, and he says, “Well, just leave it right here and we’ll have it fixed in the morning.” I said, “Well now, do you think you’ve got a bearing?” He said, “Oh, yeah, we’ve got bearings for all the popular cars.” And they did have, in stock, and by the next morning it was fixed. A bearing was going out, one of the old roller bearings, and they had put it in so the car was ready.

The next day, of course, we went out to Dead Horse Point. You could just get to the narrows then. We had to hike there out to the Point to see that, but it really made an impression on both of us. So,, from then on, every year until we moved down here, we would come at least twice; once, maybe twice, in the spring and once in the fall. Of course, we didn’t have a Jeep or anything. We just went where we could in the passenger car, but we took a lot of the hikes. We went to Delicate Arch, up Landscape, out to Double O. We hiked all through all those areas and it was just wonderful.

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