Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (GLCA) are preparing a comprehensive grazing history for Kane and Garfield Counties, and need the public’s help. When completed, this history will be a valuable contribution to the historic archives of this area and be available to the public.

One of the areas being looked at is the Paria River corridor. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the corridor was an important travel route between the communities of Adairville, Rock House, and Pahreah (Paria) in the south and the Cannonville area in the north. It has a long history of use by settlers, explorers, and ranchers, and is a fantastically beautiful canyon.

In October of 2011, archaeologists and volunteers from the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Association and the BLM performed an inventory of archaeological and historical sites in the Paria canyon from Little Dry Valley to Kitchen Canyon, a length of almost 20 river miles. The work was accomplished by a crew of archaeologists hiking through the canyon and supported by pack horses and members of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument range staff. As the archaeologists hiked each day, the wranglers went ahead and set up a camp for that night.

Despite inclement weather, and a flooded river on the last day of the project, the team recorded an impressive number of prehistoric and historic sites. Many of the historic sites contain names and dates left by these early settlers, pioneers, and ranchers.

A list of names and dates found within the canyon is available at the BLM administrative building and the GSENM Visitor Center in Kanab; as well as the GSENM Visitor Centers in Big Water, Cannonville and Escalante.

“We would greatly appreciate the public’s help identifying these folks,” said Matt Zweifel, GSENM’s archaeologist. “Any information can be of help…it can add color and life to the historic record. Many of the names have no associated dates, so any info you can provide ... when these folks were active in the Paria area? What were these folks doing in the Paria? What kind of livestock were they running, and how many head? Are relatives still living in the Kane County and Garfield County areas? And again, any amusing stories or anecdotes about these folks gives life to the history.”             

“Also, the survey teams weren’t always able to read the old inscriptions, and some letters have faded or have been worn away. If you catch any mistakes the team made in copying down names, we’d appreciate your corrections,” said Zweifel.

If you have any knowledge of these people and would like to contribute names, dates, stories, or even historic photographs, please contact BLM Archaeologist Matthew Zweifel at 435-644-1218, or contact the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument office at 435-644-1200.