Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Starting out with pleasant creative writing. I was enjoying being in Grafton and starting on Joseph Gibson's Navajo Lake cabin. I stopped and leaned back in my chair. My family is almost convinced that when in that position I am still working.

Felt I needed to know more about the genesis of the lake's name. Certainly, the Paiute Indians that lived there in 1863 didn't call it Navajo Lake. The Navajo were their enemies. Navajo raiders would kidnap Paiute women and children and sell them as slaves to the Mexicans. Research reavealed the Paiute name was "Pacuay", or Cloud Lake.

This is one of those times when the research took on a life of its own. What began as a simple search for a Paiute word became much more.
The genesis:
1. Original name of the lake from the Paiutes is "Pacuay", "Cloud Lake" translated into english.
2. Settlers changed the name to Navajo Lake due to a skirmish between pioneer cattlemen and Navajos that had wandered into the area and were stealing cattle.
3. No more historical facts about the skirmish, so in my mind, the cattlemen were Gibson finding a better place to graze their cattle in the summer than in the summer heat of the Valley around Grafton.
4. Found a commercial lodge on Navajo Lake and contacted the owner.
5. He told me about the temperatures and snowfall at various times of the year.
6. He calls me back to tell me of an out of print book about the lodge and Navajo Lake written in 1931 by the lodge's builder (1925), Dr. Atkin ("The Doc Atkin Story"). He finds artifacts in the dirt of his meadow every time he ventures out there and digs around a little.
7. I call him back to ask about trails from Navajo Lake to the Virgin River Valley and Grafton. Says there is a forest service/national park trail (North Rim Trail) that leaves the lodge and takes two days to get to Rockville. There is also a rough road that leaves from the lodge and goes to Rockville after a two hour drive. For my purposes, the trail that is presently there follows an old Indian trail that Joseph's Indian guide uses to take Joseph to Navajo Lake the first time. It is good enough to travel on foot or riding/leading horses and pack mules. The road will have been built in the track of the road that the Gibsons cut to take a wagon to the lake in one day instead of traveling many miles out of the way to get to the lake from Cedar City, taking three days.
8. Now to get it all in the book!!!!!

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