Iconic Utah outfitter Ken Sleight began his river-guiding career in Glen Canyon during the mid-1950s, just as the Glen Canyon Dam blueprints jumped from the drawing board to remote desert terrain. The pulse of the Colorado River through the canyon would soon be halted by a cement wall and Glen Canyon backfilled with water. Sleight knew the condition of the canyon was terminal. He used every ray of daylight to memorize every detail of the canyon before inundation: to learn its 125 side canyons, to observe Native American ruins and mining relics, and to immerse himself in the lives of seminal guides who preceded him like Dave Rust, Bert Loper, and Moki Mac.
Now 88 years old, Sleight and a team of Glen Canyon curators have opened the archives to create a museum exhibit: Glen Canyon: A River Guide Remembers. The exhibit includes historic landscape photographs, First American artifacts, boats and other gear, passenger portraits and journals, guides’ handwritten-packing lists, and more and is ongoing at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum in Green River, Utah through March 23, 2019.
Monday on Access Utah we’ll remember Glen Canyon with Martha Ham, who lead the creation of the exhibit; Davia Nelson, one of public radio’s Kitchen Sisters; and author and river historian Frederick Swanson. We’ll hear an excerpt from The Kitchen Sisters’ “Cry Me a River,” and we’ll hear, on tape, from Ken Sleight, Katie Lee, Vaughn Short, and others. We’d love to hear from you. Perhaps you have a Glen Canyon memory or a river-running story. We’d love to know what you think about rivers in the West and anything related. You can email us right now to firstname.lastname@example.org