2019 will be an auspicious year for Page, Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon

Big anniversaries will occur this year.

I am writing this on Jan. 1, 2019, and reflecting on the events of 2018, while simultaneously contemplating the coming events of 2019.

2018 gave Page residents a lot to be happy about and many things to celebrate, and 2019 will bring even more interesting events to commemorate in Page and the southern end of the Colorado Plateau.

This year marks the centennial of the Grand Canyon officially being made a national park. Congress established it as America's 17th national park (signed into law by Pres. Woodrow Wilson), on Feb. 26, 1919.

2019 will also mark the sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of John Wesley Powell’s first expedition exploring and mapping the canyons of the Green and Colorado Rivers. He began his famous voyage from Green River, Wyoming on May 25, 1869 with ten men and four boats. Powell finished the expedition 99 days after leaving Green River, with six men and two boats.

He and his men traveled more than a thousand river miles, ran 414 rapids, and portaged another 62.  

Powell and his brave men passed through our area Aug. 3 and 4, 1869. On the afternoon of Aug. 3 they reached the Crossing of the Fathers and camped somewhere a short distance downriver of that spot. On August 4 they continued their journey through the final stretch of Glen Canyon, passing the spot where the Glen Canyon Dam now stands, and camping that night near the mouth of the Paria River, basically where Lee’s Ferry is today.

In 1869 Lee’s Ferry wasn’t yet  being used as a ferry crossing and wasn’t yet inhabited, but less than a year later the Mormons, under the direction of John Dee Lee, would establish it as an outpost and river crossing.

On the morning of Aug. 5, Powell and his crew cast off from the mouth of the Paria River – as thousands of river runners have done since then – and advanced into Marble Canyon.

I’m sure the Park Service, Glen Canyon Conservancy, Wilderness River Adventures, and the Powell Museum will hold special events throughout this anniversary year to mark the auspicious occasions.

Speaking of Page’s Powell Museum, it will be marking its 50th anniversary of operations in 2019.

Not everything that will occur in 2019 will be celebrated. Barring some unforeseen occurrence, Dec. 2019 will also bring the closure of the Navajo Generating Station. There will be some who’ll be happy to see NGS close, but there will be many who’ll be sad to see it’s utility come to an end. One thing is for sure, its closure will mean saying goodbye to many Page families, many of them long-time, established and involved residents, as they leave Page to accept jobs with SRP in other cities.

With some of these big occasions, anniversaries and events due to occur this year, the Lake Powell Chronicle will be publishing some special features and stories.

This summer we’ll be publishing a series that follows Powell’s first expedition, week by week. We’ll also be writing more stories about the Grand Canyon.

I will be marking at least two big events in my personal life this year. My wife and I will be welcoming our second daughter, Clover, into our family in March, and in November I’ll celebrate my 50th birthday.

On Aug. 12, 1869, eight days after passing through our section of Glen Canyon, Powell and his crew found themselves at the threshold of entering the Grand Canyon, something they would undertake the following morning.

On the evening of  Aug 12, on the verge of crossing one of the most challenging, exciting thresholds in the history of exploration, Powell penned what may be his most famous words, writing, “We have an unknown distance to run; an unknown river yet to explore. What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not; what walls rise over the river, we know not.”

As l stand at the threshold of this auspicious year wondering what it will hold and unfold, I share to some degree those same sentiments.

What amazing things will we behold on our journey through 2019? What obstacles will beset our way?

Like Powell’s boats that “are chafing each other, as they are tossed by the fretful river” I too am pacing and pawing, ready to get going, ready to continue the great adventure, wondering what amazing, wondrous things await us around the next corner.


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