On Friday, June 10, descendants of Amasa Mason Lyman will begin to arrive in Bluff. While there they will explore Bluff Fort, set up camp at Camp Sticky-ta-tudy, visit graves of pioneer relatives, and drive by homes of the early settlers.
They will have a fireside about the San Juan Mission and visit some of the local red rock country to get a feel for the experience the San Juan pioneers had.
They may even take time to visit some of the magnificent views and incredible features as they get to know this corner of the world.
Bluff Fort was established in 2008 by the Hole in the Rock Foundation as a visitor center for those wanting to learn about the final destination of the San Juan Mission.
It replicates the fort the settlers first built in 1880, including the Co-op which served as a town meeting place, and 21 cabins memorializing San Juan Mission saints.
In the Co-op, guides will be prepared to give a Lyman-oriented tour and then send visitors to the Lyman cabin and other cabins, where they can view authentic family period heirlooms and hear a descriptive narration of the family’s role in the expedition – in each of several languages!
Fun activities and markers around the Fort make it a pleasant and educational spot to bring families to introduce them to these hearty pioneers.
Those Lymans who want to go to the Fort, should register in advance with Jeremy Lyman (email@example.com, 801 318-9248) so he can give the Fort a heads up if more tour guides will be needed.
Campers may then go back to Camp Stickie-ta-tudy, which is a brand new campground on the south side of town operated by the Hole-in-the-Rock Foundation, for clean-up and their outdoor meal in one of the two pavilions.
The campground features two showers, two sets of septic restrooms, and clean running water to spigots at various sites around the large, private camping area.
The sandy ground has many spots clear of brush where one could lay out a tent (preferably with a floor in case the stakes don’t hold), and those spots that do have some sage brush can be readily shaped up with a shovel and a little elbow grease.
The Amasa Mason Lyman Educational and Historical Society reserved the campground for Friday night, and it will also be available the previous night for those who want to get an early start. Campers will need to pay $2 each per night and to register in advance with Jeremy.
Before bed, the campers will join Lymans from Bluff, Blanding, and Monticello at the upper floor of the Co-op in Bluff Fort at 7 PM for a fireside about the San Juan Mission – its origin and role in settling southeastern Utah and in serving the Paiute and Navajo Indians there – delivered by Jed E. Lyman.
Jed, a former Bishop and Stake President in Blanding, now serves as a Stake Patriarch, and shares San Juan roots with many others in the region.
In order to avoid overflow in the Co-op, those planning to attend the fireside should also register with Jeremy.
The next morning, Lyman families will want to visit some of the local red rock country and get a feel for the experience those San Juan pioneers had. Particularly, families with teenagers may find the vistas and silences of Southern Utah impressive and mind boggling.
Although BLM rules prohibit any off-road group activities organized by the Society, this hallowed ground, which is also prized by wilderness campers and hikers, can be visited by individual families.
For instance, some may want to drive (or be driven) down Comb Wash and then hike up San Juan Hill, the harsh final assent that required 14-horse teams to get wagons up from the bottom of the Wash to the plateau where Bluff was located.
Near the top, they may wish to pause at the “We Thank Thee Oh God” inscription and read a paragraph about the ascent from “The Undaunted” by Gerald N. Lund.
Jeremy can direct families to an outfitter who can help traverse Comb Wash if needed.
Still before noon, many will want to also visit the magnificent view of the Goosenecks of the San Juan River, drive up and look out from the top of the incredible switchbacks of Moki Dugway, visit the (mostly unmarked) Pioneer Trail on the south side of Highway 95 across from the turnoff to Natural Bridges, and return towards Blanding.
Visitors could stop at Salvation Knoll, where four San Juan Mission scouts caught site of the Mesa where Montezuma Fort was located, giving them hope that they could get food before succumbing to starvation.
For those who have time to dig a little deeper, the Anasazi pictographs at Butler Wash, the visitor centers in Blanding and Monticello, the Monticello temple, and the Blanding Cemetery, where Walter C. Lyman, Albert R. Lyman, and many other Lyman descendants are buried will be very worthwhile visits.
The story of Walter C. Lyman’s efforts to establish substantial water reservoirs sufficient to support a town the size of Blanding will probably have to wait for another day, unless you can get Walter’s son, Joe Lyman, to show you around, which he is pretty willing to do when he isn’t busy preparing his old fire engine and band for the incomparable Blanding July Fourth Parade.