New book gives slices of San Juan history
May 27, 2015 | 5943 views | 0 0 comments | 197 197 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A new book by Bob McPherson discusses the people who settled southeast Utah. They developed a cultural understanding that helped them work the land to make a living.

It took a united effort and a lot of ingenuity to build communities, obtain the necessary materials, and operate in the isolated region of the Four Corners. Those who have written about this process have looked at general trends, often losing the more personal side and specific knowledge to the broader themes of history.

In Life in a Corner, Cultural Episodes in Southeastern Utah, 1880-1950 (University of Oklahoma Press) an insider’s view is presented that tells what it took to survive in this often stingy land.

Residents of San Juan have heard of Roy Musselman trapping Bigfoot the wolf, the cowboy Al Scorup, Jody Wood the midwife, and Sheriff Dick Butt. What did it take for them to be successful?

Only a veteran trapper would think of burying an alarm clock to attract a coyote. Only a determined bootlegger would make a saddle of leather-covered copper to dispense moonshine by the cup. Only a committed, or desperate, miner would sail down the San Juan River with a one-way “ticket” to a gold field in a hidden desert chasm.

What was the inside view of cowboying in canyon country, or bringing law and order to a virtually lawless land, or waging war against wolves and coyotes, or homesteading on some of the last large desert tracts of land in the United States?

What did women know about midwifery in 1896? How was lumber obtained to build houses and public buildings? These and other questions are answered in Life in a Corner.

Copies are available in Blanding at the USU Campus Bookstore and Edge of the Cedars Museum; in Monticello at the San Juan Record; and in Moab at the Back of Beyond Bookstore.

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