Lee’s Ferry is a storyteller’s delight, one of those connect-the-dots places that is simply irresistible. On the Colorado River just downstream from Glen Canyon Dam, it is where John D. Lee was sent into hiding (exile?) following the Mountain Meadows Massacre, where John Wesley Powell split his second Grand Canyon trip in two, where the Colorado River Compact splits upper and lower basin water, where the USGS today measures the great river’s flow.
A delightful gift arrived in the mail yesterday, the two-volume collection of essays from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s centennial symposium in 2002. It’s full of mineable treasure. For today, there’s this wonderful little bit of business. Before the big dams, John D. Lee made little ones:
In addition to constructing lodging, Lee quickly turned his attention to the establishment of a garden patch. One of his first tasks was to complete a dam on the Paria River to impound water for irrigation. Thus began a continual battle to maintain the dam in the face of frequent floods and to keep the crops watered during times of drought.
It’s a battle that, on a larger scale, is in some sense still going on. From Lee’s Ferry, the Colorado River and the Development of the Bureau of Reclamation, by Douglas E. Kupel.