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CPRG History
February 1, 2001

Canyonlands Chronology

Chronology of Human Experience in the Cataract Canyon Region

An excerpt from Cataract Canyon: A Human and Environmental History of the Rivers in Canyonlands by Robert H. Webb, Jayne Belnap and John S. Weisheit.

12250 B.C. to 7800 B.C. - Various Paleoindian cultures inhabit the region to unknown extent.
7800 B.C. to A.D. 500 - Desert Archaic culture leaves evidence of occupation.
A.D. 500 to A.D. 1300 - Fremont and Ancestral Puebloan cultures leave extensive structures, artwork, and agricultural fields in region.
A.D. 1300 to present - Ute, Paiute, Navajo, Hopi cultures roam through the region.

1540 - Spaniards under Francisco Vazquez de Coronado enter the Colorado Plateau.

1680 - The Pueblo Revolt results in Spaniards leaving their northern frontiers.
1692 - The Spaniards regain control of the Pueblos.

1765 - Spanish merchant Juan Maria Antonio Rivera explores west-central Colorado.
1775 - Spanish traders Pedro Mora, Gregorio Sandoval and Andres Muniz explore west-central Colorado.
1776 - Spanish Franciscan priests Francisco Atanasio Dominguez and Silvestre Velez de Escalante encircle the Colorado Plateau and discover the Green River.

1806 - Zebulon Pike is arrested by the Spaniards for spying during a U.S. Army expedition into the Rocky Mountain region.
1821 - Spanish territories become the possession of an independent Mexico.
1824 - Fur traders enter the Canyonlands region.
1828 - Trader Antoine Robidoux builds a fort near confluence of the Uncompahgre and Gunnison Rivers.
1830 - George Yount and William Wolfskill's trapping party cross the Colorado River below the mouth of the Dolores River and the Green River at the present day town of Green River.
1836 - Trapper Denis Julien explores the rivers of the area that will become Canyonlands National Park.
1846 - The Mexican American War begins.
1847 - Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) settle in Utah territory during the Mexican American War.
1848    - Mexican American War ends and Utah territory becomes the possession of the United States. Orville Pratt leads settlers on Old Spanish Trail through Spanish Valley (Moab) and crosses 1,800 feet above the Portal (beginning of Meander Canyon).
1853 - E. F. Beale crosses the Green River near present day Green River, Utah. John W. Gunnison, of the U. S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, surveys the 38th parallel for a railroad route and crosses the Green River near where Beale crossed. John C. Fremont's railroad reconnaissance crosses the Green River near the mouth of the San Rafael River.
1854 - William Huntington enters Spanish Valley from the south on an expedition for the Mormon Church.
1855 - Elk Mountain Mission temporarily settles in Spanish Valley.
1859 - The U. S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers (John N.Macomb and John S. Newberry) searches overland for the Confluence.
1862 - The largest historical flood occurs on Colorado River (400,000 cfs in Arizona).
1869 - John Wesley Powell's first river expedition travels from Green River, Wyoming, to the mouth of the Virgin River, Nevada.
1871 - John Wesley Powell's second river expedition occurs in three phases, from Green River, Wyoming, to mouth of Paria River, two floats of Glen Canyon, final phase from Paria River to Kanab Creek in 1872.
1872 - Almon H. Thompson surveys southern Utah overland for Powell; discovers the Escalante River, the lastnamed river in the continental United States; climbs the Henry Mountains; and floats through Glen Canyon a second time.
1874 - Crispen Taylor brings the first significant herd of cattle to Spanish Valley.
1875 - Ferdinand V. Hayden supervises survey of the Uncompaghre Plateau and the La Sal and Abajo Mountains. Powell supervises survey of the Henry Mountains by Grove Karl Gilbert.
1877 - William Granstaff ("Negro Bill") settles in Spanish Valley area.
1879 - A U.S. Post Office is established in the town of Moab.
1881 - The Moab ferry becomes operational. A Post Office is established in Grand Junction.
1882 - The Ute Tribe is confined to reservations. The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad enters Grand Junction from the south. Ferry service is established in Grand Junction. The first irrigation projects near the Colorado River are established at Grand Junction/Grand Valley.
1883 - Cass Hite prospects in upper Glen Canyon. Denver and Rio Grande Railroad is completed through Emery County, Utah.
1884 - U.S. Weather Service begins gaging the Colorado River at Fruita, Colorado, and records a record flow of 125,000 cfs on July 4; flow in Cataract Canyon is estimated at 225,000 cfs.
1885 - The Roan Toll Road connects Glenwood Springs to Grand junction. Funds are approved to build Grand Junction's first bridge over the Colorado River.
1887 - A U.S. Post Office is established at Westwater, Utah.
1888 - Elmer Kane and two companions are the first to traverse Westwater Canyon by boat.
1889 - Frank Kendrick surveys Colorado River from Grand Junction to the Confluence for the Denver Colorado Canyon Pacific Rail Road. Robert Brewster Stanton surveys and photographs the Colorado River from the Confluence to Hite. Stanton launches his second expedition from Hite to complete his survey through Grand Canyon.
1890 - Emery County is divided and Grand County is established with Moab as the county seat. The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad enters Grand Junction, standard rails replace narrow gauge rails, and a new route is built through Ruby Canyon.
1891 - The Best Expedition, headed by James Best of the Colorado, Grand Canyon Mining and Improvement Company (cached), runs Cataract and destroys a boat in Rapid 15. First oil well in Utah is drilled near Elgin.
1892 - George M. Wright and Friend G. Faatz run Cataract Canyon separately and meet up later in Glen Canyon. Battlement Mesa Forest Reserve near Grand junction is established.
1893 - Steamer Major Powell makes the round trip from the San Rafael River to Cataract Canyon at Spanish Bottom.
1894 - Nathaniel Galloway makes a solo run of Cataract Canyon.
1896  - Utah achieves statehood. George Flavell and Ramon Mont6z and Nathaniel Galloway and William Richmond separately run Cataract Canyon. A ferry is established at Dewey, Utah.
1897 - Drs. Babcock and Miller run Westwater Canyon. Galloway again runs Cataract Canyon.
1898 - A U.S. Post Office is established at Dewey.

1900 - The Kings Toll Road (Highway 128) is completed. An oil shale boom occurs at Parachute Creek, Colorado, leading to increased exploration in the region.
1901 - The maiden voyage of the steamship Undine occurs; Frank Surnmeril proposes a resort at Spanish Bottom.
1904 - The maiden voyage of the gasolinepowered Wilmont occurs. Nathaniel and Parley Galloway and Louis M. Chaffin and Alonzo G. Turner separately run Cataract Canyon.
1905 - The maiden voyage of the gasolinepowered City of Moab occurs.
1906 - La Sal Forest Preserve is established near Moab.
1907 - Charles Russell, Bert Loper, and Edwin Monett run Cataract Canyon. A.G. Turner runs Cataract Canyon. The maiden voyages of the steamer Black Eagle and the gasoline-powered Paddy Ross occur. Tom Wimmer provides gasoline-powered boat services until 1924 with such boats as the Marguerite.
1909 - The Stone expedition runs Cataract Canyon. Henry E. Blake conducts the maiden voyage of the Ida B.
1910 - J. H. Hummel runs Cataract Canyon.
1911 - Ellsworth and Emery Kolb run Cataract Canyon. Charles Smith runs Cataract Canyon. Colorado National Monument is established near Grand junction.
1912 - Moab's first bridge crosses the Colorado River. Charles Smith and Nathaniel Galloway run Cataract Canyon together.
1914 - The Tadje/Russell expedition runs Cataract Canyon. The U.S. Reclamation Service drills at the Confluence to test for damsite suitability.
1915 - Near Palisade, Colorado, work is completed on a highline diversion dam, the first significant dam upstream of Cataract Canyon.
1916 - Ellsworth Kolb and Bert Loper run Westwater Canyon. The Dewey Bridge is completed across the Colorado River.
1917 - Second largest twentieth century flood passes through Cataract Canyon (145,000 cfs).
1921 - Largest twentiethcentury flood passes through Cataract Canyon (147,000 cfs). A USGS expedition surveys Cataract Canyon for potential clarnsites. The Grand River is renamed the Colorado River.
1922 - Colorado River Compact allocates Colorado River water to the seven western states.
1924 - John and Parley Galloway run Cataract Canyon.
1925 - The Shafer brothers discover oil and gas in Meander Canyon. Moab Garage Company begins a boattransport service that by 1927 would haul 3,500 tons of freight annually.
1927 - The Clyde Eddy and Path6Bray expeditions separately run Cataract Canyon.
1928 - Boulder Canyon Act authorizes construction of Hoover Dam. Glen and Bessie Hyde run Cataract Canyon, making Bessie the first known woman river runner.
1929 - Arches National Monument is established.
1933 - The Frazier/Hatch expedition runs Cataract Canyon. Harold Leich boats and hikes the Colorado River from Grand Lake, Colorado, to Hite.
1935 - The Escalante National Monument is proposed along Green and Colorado rivers from Moab to Arizona border.
1937 - Haldane "Buzz" Holmstrom makes a solo run of the Green and Colorado rivers.
1938 - Amos Burg runs first inflatable boat through Cataract Canyon. Holmstrom becomes first to run every rapid from Green River, Wyoming, to lower Grand Canyon. Norman Nevills runs first commercial river trip in Cataract Canyon. Bernard DeColmont and Antoine DeSeyne are the first to kayak Cataract Canyon. Russell Frazier upruns the Colorado River from Hite to Dark Canyon.
1941 - Testing is performed at the Dewey Bridge Damsite.
1943 - Bert Loper runs Cataract Canyon.
1944 - The United States signs a treaty with Mexico for 1.5 million acrefeet of Colorado River water. Loper again runs Cataract Canyon.
1945 - W. Herwig runs scow with freight through Cataract Canyon.
1947 - Harry Aleson and Georgie White Clark make first run of Cataract Canyon in WW II surplus neoprene, inflatable rafts. Don Harris and Jack Brennan run Cataract Canyon.
1948 - Otis Marston (and others) becomes the first known person to run Dolores River.
1949 - John Ford directs "Wagon Master" for Hollywood in Professor Valley. Kenneth Ross runs Cataract Canyon.
1952 - Charlie Steen discovers uraninite near Big Indian Valley, starting a mining boom.
1953 - Don Harris runs the first power boat through Cataract Canyon.
1954 - Leslie Jones canoes Cataract Canyon from Moab to Hite in thirtysix hours.
1955 - Ed Hudson runs the first power boat run through Westwater Canyon.
1956 - Congress authorizes the Colorado River Storage Act.
1957 - Construction of Glen Canyon Dam begins. Georgie White Clark runs thirtythreefoot, G-rig pontoon and Fred Eiseman runs fifteenfoot triple rig through Cataract Canyon in high water. The Canyon Country River Marathon, a boat race, begins.
1958 - The Friendship Cruise from Green River, Utah, to Moab begins as an annual Memorial Day weekend event.
1959 - Dead Horse Point State Park is established. National Park Service begins to study the concept of Canyonlands National Park.
1962 - Dam construction begins on the Gunnison River.
1963 - The Denver, Rio Grande and Western Railroad spur road is completed to Potash. Glen Canyon begins storing Colorado River water. The inventory and salvage of Glen Canyon's human history is completed. Flaming Gorge Dam regulates the Green River.
1964 - Glen Canyon Dam begins generating electricity. Canyonlands National Park is established.
1965 - William Somerville upruns Cataract Canyon in a jet boat.
1971 - Arches is converted from a national monument to a national park. More land is added to Canyonlands National Park, including the detached Horseshoe Canyon unit.
1980 - The reservoir reaches full pool elevation of 3,700 ft.
1981 - The Department of Energy identifies sites immediately east of Needles District as among alternatives for a nuclear waste repository; the plan was dropped in 1986.
1982 - Glen Canyon Environmental Studies begins to study the effects of Glen Canyon Dam operations on Grand Canyon.
1983 - Flows through Cataract Canyon peak at 104,000 ft'/s, causing brief river closures. The spillway at Glen Canyon Dam fails and the emergency highpool elevation is raised to 3,707.4 ft (normal pool elevation is 3,700 ft). Grazing privileges expire in Canyonlands National Park. The reservoir backs up to the base of Big Drop 3.
1984 - Flows through Cataract Canyon peak at 115,300 cfs.
1989 - The Secretary of the Interior orders an Environmental Impact Statement on the operations of Glen Canyon Dam and its effects on Grand Canyon (Record of Decision in 1996).
1990 - After near extirpation by trappers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, river otters make their reappearance in the Colorado River above Glen Canyon Dam.
1992 - A long period of drought from 1989-1991 brings the reservoir to its lowest pool elevation (3,611 ft) since the reservoir filled in 1980. Lower Cataract Canyon becomes a river through perched silt banks for thirty miles. Congress passes the Grand Canyon Protection Act.
1993 - Cataract Canyon peaks at 70,600 ft'/s. Colorado Plateau River Guides is established.
1995 - Cataract Canyon peaks at 80,700 ft'/s.
1996 - Glen Canyon Dam releases the first deliberate flood from a dam to improve downstream habitat (45,000 ft'/s) with no effect on Cataract Canyon.
1999 - The pool elevation of the reservoir rises again, drowning out Rapid 27 in Cataract Canyon.

2000 - Drought decreases inflow to the reservoir and its level drops, re-exposing Rapid 27.
2002 - Lowest spring peak for the Colorado River in recorded history peaks at 9,550 ft'/s. Islands of sediment appear on the reservoir below the mouth of the Dirty Devil River and above Hite Marina.
2005 - Lake Powell at lowest level since the 1970s at 3555 feet. The Colorado River flows on top of reservoir sediment as far as White Canyon.
2008 - All Cataract Canyon rapids above Rapid 30 (Gypsum Rapid) are fully restored.
2009 - Removal of Atlas Tailings Pile begins. The toxic material is transferred by rail to disposal site near Crescent Junction exit of Interstate 70.

 
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