Oral Histories

John William (Jack) West

b.1916

Jack West

But one time we met the guys (it was a Friday, I remember distinctly), we left early and we were supposed to meet them in Chessler Pirk, probably about ten o’clock. Of course, booze was always a major part of these trips. The only teetotaler we had was my cousin Emmett Miller and he really worked us over for the drinking we did. But Uncle Dick, his dad, and all the rest of the us took plenty of booze along.

This particular day, Sam and I got out there and we were a little late and they were already coming out. They had camped in Chessler and they were already on their way out and they met us. They were kind of huffy about us being there so late because they wanted us to come in and gab with them that morning. But we turned around right at that point and headed out and we said, “Okay, we’ll meet you out at the mouth of Salt Creek.” So we took off ahead of them. They were going to stop and take a lot of pictures. In the meantime, we had stopped and had a few drinks. So Sam brought his Land Rover over Elephant Hill and we camped at the Cowboy Cave down there. In fact, I guess we had more than a few drinks because we just laid and slept for about an hour and then I was up stirring around. Finally, Sam 1ooked up and recognized where we were and he says, “When did we come over Elephant Hill?” and he was driving! So that’s one of the things that could happen.

The guys came and we went up Salt Creek and up in Horse Canyon and camped that night. There’s a lot of interesting arches and Paul Bunyan’s Potty up that way. I remember that Bill Stobal, who was superintendent of schools, was with us because he and Uncle Ray were real buddies. Ray was President of the Board of Education and Bill Stobal was a real funny little guy. When he’d laugh, he’d sometimes just roll on the ground. We camped that night and Sam had a canvas cot. It wasn’t any Army cot. It was one of the newer models of white cloth. During the night, it started ripping and by morning he was just laying across the crosspieces. In the morning he was all upset about it. We had some gasoline, of course, some extra gas on some of the jeeps. He got a can of that and poured it on the cot and lit it on fire. I’ve got a real good picture of Sam burning his cot. That was really one of the interesting things.

As I mentioned, we camped at various places. There were two or three choice places in Beef Basin. At the lower end of main Beef Basin, there’s a spring and we camped by there. Then on towards upper Beef Basin, in the canyon between the two, there is a big patch of cottonwoods. It was a beautiful spot to camp. We camped there a few times. But, this one particular time, we were camped at the main area in Beef Basin. Cap always came with Frank and then I took Ray Andersen on almost every trip. I arranged it so Ray Andersen could go with me even when he was working for me at the bulk plant. He knew the country and, in fact, he came over when I took the bulk plant over. I have mentioned that previously that he brought the rental truck from Richfield. And he loved the outdoors. On this particular trip, I remember that Ray Andersen’s dad-in-law, old Erv Day, was along, a real quiet, meek, little guy. That evening, of course, we had the booze and Ray and Cap got arguing about religion. Ray had gotten married in the Temple, his first wedding. That didn’t last very long and he divorced and, after he got down here, he met and married Dorothy, and they didn’t go through the Temple. But Ray was kind of critical of how they treated him; I really think he got ex-communicated on that deal. But Cap started pecking away at the Mormons and their beliefs just as a result of our little conversation in there. Him and Ray got in an argument about religion. Cap is a Lutheran. Well, they both started getting louder and finally the argument ended up that Cap was really sympathetic towards the Mormons because of the wonderful thing they did when they settled this country. So they ended up agreeing on most points. They weren’t really arguing, but they were sure hollering at each other. The poor dad-in-law, he thought they were going to come to blows. That was one of the highlights of one of the trips I remember.

Then at the campsite out on Dark Canyon Plateau was a fascinating area. Just the names the old cowboys gave to those areas. Sweet Alice Springs – that wasn’t its original name, but that’s explanatory. There was Fable Valley, Wild Cow Point, Bodie Canyon, and all those areas had fascinating Indian ruins in them and when we first went out there was real good arrowhead hunting. Practically every place you went if you watched you could find arrowheads. So we enjoyed that out there a lot, plus a lot of Indian ruins. And getting into Beef Basin from the National Park, there’s Ruin Park, big rock ruins, and then camping in Beef Basin, we were right near the mouth of Ruin Canyon. So it was really a lot of fun. On one trip out there, out into the Needles area, we had one of our friends’ grandson along. I was real good friends with the people that owned the Dugout Ranch. They lived in Provo just about a block above the service station and I knew Mr. Scorup and his family real well. He was the owner and then his grandson, Nelson, came with us. He worked in a Tote Goat factory and he brought down a couple of Tote Goats, in fact, three of them in a pickup. Those were the forerunner of these mountain bikes, or powered bikes. We really had a lot of fun that trip with Uncle Dick and Emmett. There were enough (two guys to a Tote Goat) for all of us; there were six of us on that trip. That was really a fun trip. That time, I remember, we camped in the cave that’s close to the headquarters at the Needles area of the National Park Service. We had a real good time there. Of course, that’s all impossible now, but that big old cave was sure fun.

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