Oral Histories

Lloyd M. Pierson

Lloyd Pierson

I was doing it under the auspices of the Museum of Northern Arizona. They made me a research assistant on weekends. That was when Janet was born in the hospital in Cottonwood.

I got a call to move to Chaco Canyon. They decided they needed an archeologist there. It was a ranger job and they promised me a raise but they weren’t sure. They needed me, I knew Chaco and they knew I knew Chaco. It was funny. The superintendent that was there Glen Bean. Later on he became an asssistant director in Washington. While I was there I was in charge most of the time because Glen was off on a Mission 66 Committee and he would leave me there as the ranger to run it.

While we were at Chaco, we went in to town about once a month. On the other weekends we decided to redo the survey that we did for my Masters. Everything! By then we had some maps. We didn’t have any maps when we did the original survey.

When Judd dug Pueblo Bonito he had somebody from the army do a map. But he wouldn’t let it out. He was afraid somebody would do, I don’t know, what. By then he’d published his big tome and the map was out. So we had a map to work with. It always helps to have a map. People today don’t realize all the fancy gadgets they’ve got. We redid the survey. That gave us something to do on weekends; we’d take the kids. Dale became old enough to go to school and we began to worry. All he had for company down there was his sister and Bean’s two little girls. He kind of ignored them, kind of went his own way most of the time. We had some Indian friends that had one little boy for a playmate. Katherine (Cly) had worked at the field school in ‘47. The trader had children too. I guess the Park Service got pretty snotty and the trader moved out of the canyon. When Harry (Batchelor) bought the trading post it was outside, about a mile north. He ran the trading post at Nageezi later, then retired, moved to Florida and let his kid have it. From Chaco we came here.

J. What opportunity was here?

L. To get Dale in school. Out in the Arches. They transferred me here, still in the Park Service. It was years before they built us a house. While we were here we did some good. We excavated that pithouse down on the Potash Road. We dug the burials out in Mrs. Polley’s front yard. Got involved in the museum. The entrance station was out at the Balanced Rock, a dirt road going in there. That’s where Ed

Abbey hung out. Best part of course was doing Canyonlands from ’56 to ’61.

J. You remember the beginnings of the museum?

L. Yes, they were gung-ho days because Moab was full of people who wanted to get things done. They were fairly well educated and the locals had always wanted a museum. They recognized the fact that their history was kind of important and different than the rest of Utah. One of the schoolteachers was head of a committee called Bootstraps that initiated the museum by setting up another committee. Charlie Steen had just built his mill out there in 1956. I did a lot of work myself. I remember crawling under the floor, propping up the weak spots. The Rotary Club – well, it’s in the Legacy. How Marian worked sponsoring the museum. She got the gals going cataloguing and accessions.

J. She did an excellent job of recording the accession numbers.

L. Yes. And built up that photo collection. A lot of the local people, not so much the LDS bunch but not entirely outside of it, contributed. The history of Moab, the early stuff was not done by the Mormons. They were busy going to church or ranching or something. People like Corbin, Taylor of the newspaper were the movers. The telephone company was “outside” the church. The Mormon Church had to send a Bishop in here, because most of the Mormons here were sort of “Jack Mormons” of one sort or another. I always got a kick out of that. Stewart was the bishop and a polygamist. Ila Corbin pushed hard for the museum.

J. You were right here at the beginning?

L. Maybe two or three years after the Uranium Boom started. The head of the Museum Association, Lew Painter, superintendent of the Uranium Mill, was an interesting guy. He would invite us down once in a while for cocktails from Lew’s chemistry set. He did a lot of entertaining and he had all of these liquors and he was always trying some new fancy drink. Sally and he had a son, Allan.

While we were here we got involved with the Utah Statewide Archaeological Society. I was editor of their newsletter for about a year and a half. Archeologist Jim Gunnerson would come down and we would help him in his survey work. We also dug a cave up in Mill Creek because they were talking about a dam up on Mill Creek. The dam fell through but the cave was another place where they had a still. But around the edges there was some interesting stuff. Pendergast wound up at the Royal Museum in Toronto. He was the state archeologist replacing Gunnerson at the University of Utah. The dam was supposed to go in right above the power house to get both branches. What happened? People bellyached or they ran out of money or what the hell, never did build it.

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