Primary Subject: Personal History
From Moab, I went to Fruita and stayed a couple of weeks. When we would go back to Fisher Valley from the winter range, the trail made a crooked crossing down into the wash, a very sharp right, and out the other side. If we had either horses and a pack mule, they would hit it on a high lope. The horse I rode, Cactus, really liked to do that, and before I thought much about it, Jim said, “Lets race.” The first time I lost my hat and he had to go back and get it. It did take some holding back to keep Cactus reined in. They just felt good. We never raced there again.
And then after that we did run a lot of our commercial trips to the Standing Rock country. And in our tour business we generally had 6-day camping trips scheduled and we’d generally take a circle route – take in a big part of the country around on a 6 day trip. And we did get a lot of good people. And at that time the only ones who’d think about going on that kind of a trip were the ones who were interested in getting out and seeing new country. And they were able to explore places where there hadn’t been lots of people going before also. And so we did start up a business and we enjoyed it and we run that Kent Frost Canyonland tours for 25 years before we retired.
Dad was a cowboy, so travelling on horseback didn’t bother him. When he would go to Paradox from Moab to visit patients, he went right up through South Pass in the La Sal Mountains, which is very steep. He travelled to see patients in Paradox Valley , Monticello, Hanksville, Thompson and Cisco and many ranches, cow camps, mines, etc. Papa had special saddlebags made to go on the saddle to hold the medicine bottles on each side. They are now in the Moab museum.
…Dan the oldest with his first wife; then he had 2 boys with his second wife and that was Warren and Roland, my dad. So then he and his wife went down and took over the Ruby Ranch. At the Ruby Ranch they had a boat and the Wild Bunch had a bunch of horses on both sides of the river. Grandma would feed them and row them back and forth across the river. When they came in or leave, why, they left money under the plate. And that put them back in the cow business…
I worked at the Westerner Grill. When Moab got their little sewing factory, Fritzie, It was Moab Sportswear to start with. I worked there for 7 years. I worked at the Westerner for 11 years. And I worked at the Atlas Mill. I was a ten-day mill hand. That was hard work. I shoveled the ore onto the conveyer belt that spilled off. Eight hours of that, I could not do. So I was only a ten day mill hand. Then I went back to waiting tables. You’ve heard of ten-day miners. They only work long enough to get one payday and then they are gone.
My mother’s name was Isabella Beggs McCollum Provonsha. She was born in Moab on December 25, 1897 in a log cabin located where the Wells Fargo Bank is today. Her father was Daniel McCollum who came to Paradox, Colorado about 1878. The exact date he started to operate the first sawmill on the LaSal mountain is not known but his last ledger showed it was in operation in 1889. He sawed lumber in LaSal Pass, Old LaSal, Buckeye and Pine Flats areas. He furnished lumber for the old water flume on the San Miguel River below Uravan, Colorado, hauling it (lumber) down through Roc Creek with oxen to the San Miguel River. The lumber he delivered to his Moab customers was hauled through LaSal Pass and down Pack Creek. He married Helen Grimes on December 13, 1893. He said the sawmill was no place for a woman, so he sold it to a man who had worked for him, Tom Branson. He started working for Pittsburgh Cattle Company at LaSal as the ranch foreman. Helen Grimes family included some of the first settlers in Paradox, Colorado.
I was just a member, but Lloyd Pierson was the first curator. When he was assigned to another area and left Moab, Ross Musselman came to visit me. He said the board was wondering if I would take over as curator of the museum. I told Ross, “I’m flattered but there is no way I can consider taking that now. I have three apartments coming up vacant and I’m going to have to paint. The kids have got some things to do and Harold’s Dad and Mother were gone on a three-month trip. I was taking care of their mail. See if you can’t find somebody else. I just don’t see how I could possibly do anything before two or three months from now when things calm down a little.” Well, when we got the Times Independent the next week, Ross Musselman had announced that the board of directors had decided that Billie Provonsha was the new curator. That’s how I became curator of the museum.
He was a great teacher. We lived out past the hospital at the time. Every kid down there that could not ride the bus, got together and we all walked to school. H. B. Evans lived down there, too. There were about 10 or 15 of us trailing along behind him, singing, “March, March, March!” In school, he was the best science teacher. He would give you an assignment to do, but someone would say something, or ask a question and we never heard about the assignment again. He would go off on another subject; same thing the next day. When it came time for a test, he’d say “You are going to have a test today”. But guess what he tested on? What we had talked about (not the assignments).
Well, at first they were going to build a Mill Creek Dam and they were going to build it over here at the head of the left and the right hand of Mill Creek. That’s where the dam was first proposed. But then there was a dam failure somewhere in Idaho and it was a very devastating flood, so the committee decided no, they could not build the dam where it could flood a great number of people. So they planned to build the dam up in the valley where it is today.
Switched my major because I found out in the three years time that I loved this job and I loved this town. That was 47 years ago. By getting the 14 credit hours and taking 22 hours a quarter for 3 quarters, which is kind of load, I could get the minimum requirements for a degree. So I did it. And during that 3 quarters, that 9 months, I made 29 round trips to Moab in 31 weeks. And in a way it was a blessing because we had two trains a day out of Thompson, morning and evening, and I bought an old car and I left it out at the depot at Thompson. I commuted back and forth on the train.