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Albert Maywood Courtright II

Reminiscences of Maywood Courtright

Zion National Park, Las Vegas and Boulder (Hoover) Dam

Zion and Bryce national parks lie close together in the southwest corner of Utah and Cedar Breaks National Monument, is also in the same area. We visited only Zion as a visit to Bryce would have meant retracing our steps. We must have spent the night in Mt. Carmel Junction, just to the east of the park entrance. I’m sure we passed thru Kanab. At the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon, visitors view the marvels of erosion from the rim, looking down into the depths, while at Zion you are at the bottom looking up. The entrance road from the east slopes down thru a tunnel into which openings like big windows have been cut on the north side, each window framing a different view. I stopped the car next to one of them, there was no traffic, and took a picture, putting the cardboard helmet I had bought in Gallup to keep from getting sunburnt on top of the car. When I got back in the car and drove on, of course, I forgot it was there. My face and ears got badly sunburnt exploring the canyon on foot; I still had enough hair to protect the top of my head. We tramped along the bottom of the canyon looking up and admiring the fantastic shapes cut into the layers of red and white stone. The layers of sediment, hardened into stone over the centuries, were more pronounced even than those in the Grand Canyon. Because the canyon is comparatively narrow there was much less wind erosion, nearly all the cutting having been done by the water flowing in the small stream we followed back into the canyon. In the winter, during the rainy season, we would not have dared to walk so far, as a storm anywhere in the valley could send a wall of water sleeping everything out of its way, including us.

It was not very far from Zion to the gambling city of Las Vegas, Nevada, and we had plenty of time to walk about the downtown streets and peek into some of the places where tourists were playing the slot machines. With electricity very cheap due to the proximity of Boulder Dan, big electric signs were lit up as tho it were dark. We found a motel on the road between Las Vegas and Boulder City. Boulder Dam - later renamed to Hoover Dam - had not been finished very long and the water of the Colorado River had only begun to fill the lower levels of canyon behind it. Just the same, it was a good sized lake already. The children and the two girls put on their bathing suits and we drove out to the “beach.”

To visit the dam, we drove out to a visitors parking area near the top of the dam - the highway from Boulder City to Flagstaff runs along its top - climbed steps to the sidewalk along the road and walked to an elevator, a large wire cage that could hold perhaps 50 people. We were dropped down inside the dam to near the bottom where the visitors bureau was, next to the power station. Windows to the outside allowed you to look out and water tumbling out from under the dam after it had spun the turbines in the powerhouse next to us. There were a number of guides - I think they were employed by the park service - and the visitors were split up into groups of about 15 or 20 to be shown thru the powerhouse and the control rooms. Only about half of the gigantic turbines were in place and working, large holes in the floor indicating where more were to be installed as demand for electricity in the southwest increased. Besides power, of course, Hoover Dam had been constructed as a means of flood control and a source of water for irrigation in California, Arizona and Mexico.

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Last modified on 15 April 2021 17:59