Our Story Continues...
Long before closure of the Uranium mill, Moab’s Chamber of Commerce rebranded the city as “gateway to the Canyonlands” and the northern entry to the small Southeastern Utah communities of Monticello, Blanding and Bluff. Its location sandwiched between two National Parks, and world famous for its easy access to spectacular natural scenery for mountain biking, climbing, canyoneering, and rafting make Moab a small but vibrant recreation-oriented tourism community. While adventure tourism and parks visitation bring new energy and money to the region, Moab faces challenges familiar to many small towns in the American West:
- Limits to, or depletion of, the extractive resources that created stable communities with family wage jobs
- Emergence of tourism as an economic development strategy
- Increased income disparity as wealthy year-round and part-time residents arrive
- High demand for minimum wage workers for the visitor industry.
An active citizenry, newly arriving and active retirees, and ambitious plans for a new campus of the Utah State University branch campus give Moab an aura of possibility.
There’s a saying that Marin County (CA) provided the “tools,” Crested Butte (CO) provided the “spirit,” and Moab provided the “place.” In 1983 Rim Cyclery, Moab’s first bike shop, was selling road bikes and outdoor gear when a customer from California arrived with a precursor to today’s mountain bike – a modified 5-speed Ross. The inaugural issue of Mountain Bike Magazine featured a cover photo of the Moab Valley from Slickrock trail, and today riders from all over the world descend on Moab to enjoy the scenery from the seat of their bike. This 1984 Ross Mount Rainier is on loan from Eric Jones.
Bjornstad climbing gear
Eric Bjornstad was a larger-than-life climber of alpine faces and desert towers who fell in love with the landscape surrounding Moab. Author of Desert Rock and a wide ranging series of guidebooks revered by climbers, Bjornstad was attracted to climbing to “get away from people and the normal everyday routine … to go to this Never Never World where you would never see anybody.”
Gordon Fowler’s Snowshoes
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…” could stay fur trappers, forest rangers and local prospectors from their wintertime tasks. Gordon Fowler, whose initials are found on the tails, used these snowshoes to prospect in Miner’s Basin in the La Sals above Castle Valley. Made of hardwood frame with rawhide lacing, they allowed the wearer to travel over powdery snow without sinking knee-deep and minimized fatigue. Acquired by the Museum from the estate of Bill Conners, who grubstaked Fowler’s endeavor.
Long before inflatable kayaks were common, Hans Kraus, an engineer who spent a lot of time running rivers, decided to build a more lightweight dinghy than what was commercially available. Not only did Kraus carve his boat from foam, he also designed an oar lock that pivoted with gears so the dinghy could be rowed in the opposite direction. These oars were used to maneuver his small fiberglass-coated foam dinghy. Donated by Stephen Young.