The monthly general meeting of the Emery County Historical Society was held on Jan. 24, at the Museum of the San Rafael. Members and their guests were welcomed and the meeting was conducted by President JoAnn Taylor, who called everyone's attention to the new Olympic flags that decorate the inside and outside of the building. Martha Coley led the pledge to the flag. Reed Martin gave the opening prayer. Jan Petersen, member and executive director of the Emery County Museums, showed one of the posters that will be displayed throughout the county of the new art exhibit which will begin on Feb. 7, with a reception, and continue with a special musical presentation by the Emery County Community Theatre and other performers on Feb. 22.
Taylor said that her term as president will end with the next meetings installation of new officers. She thanked the officers who have served with her for the past two years, JoAnn Behling, Terry Williams, and Dixie Swasey, and also Joanna Clawson and Martha Coley for taking charge of the refreshments each meeting. Elections followed with the following results: JoAnn Behling elected as President for 2002 and 2003; Terry Williams, President Elect; Maribelle Wareham, Secretary; and Dixie Swasey, Treasurer.
Guest speaker, Mark H. Williams of Castle Dale, author of a new book entitled Utah's Scenic San Rafael 2001, talked about the original book written by Owen McClenahan. "Owen sold the copy rights to me and so when it was time to revise it, Terry and I took on the job thinking it would be easier than it was." After going page by page, they determined that there needed to be a color photo on each page, and that some of the maps were outdated because some of the roads are not accessible any more. It took him about one and a half months to just go through his photos and slides and still he couldn't use all that he wanted to. He talked about the one unusual petroglyph on the front of the book which not many of the audience had seen. Williams had a large map and was able to pinpoint exact roads, canyons, and places of interest to those needing specific directions for future outings and he gave cautions and whether each was accessible by vehicle, OHV, horseback or hiking.
Williams gave a reminder that contrary to some thinking, the San Rafael Swell has been a busy place for hundreds of years since the slave trade days of the Spanish Trail, which found the easiest crossings of the Colorado and Green Rivers, the many explorers and expeditions who went through, the mail route that came up through Wilsonville, the proposed and never completed railroad grade from Green River to Cleveland - a large round house would have been built in Cleveland if it had been completed. Johnson's army who came into Northern Utah to suppress the Mormons, got reinforcements led by a Colonel Loring who went away on the southern route through Salina Canyon and followed the Spanish Trail nearly all the way, even through the Buckhorn flat, and all were described by him each day as he traveled.
Williams talked about the many uranium claims and the few mines and said that there are 144 mines around the Temple Mountain area that will be closed by the Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining starting this year. Williams explained that the closings of the mines will protect history by leaving the outside items of 50 years or more, but will make the sites more safe and will keep openings so that bats will be able to get in and out, and the roads to them will, for the most part, remain open.
Past president, Vernell Rowley and other volunteers will be taking photos of old mine sites as an ECHS project.
Ina Lee Magnuson, former Emery County recorder, shared that there are many "Proof of Labor" books of the old uranium claims in Dixie Swasey's office that are interesting to look at. Kent Petersen agreed, telling how many times he would go into the recorders office for another errand and end up staying to look at all the old historical record books. Taylor announced that next months installation of officers meeting on Feb. 28, will also include guest speaker, Ron Taylor of the Utah Parks and Recreation Department, who is also an artist, a mountain man, and speaker. Yearly memberships are due and accepted by Dixie Swasey who also keeps a variety of books on Emery County for the convenience of the members.