Book review: 'Lost Canyons' tells Green River story before Flaming Gorge Dam

By Rosemarie Howard

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, June 23 2012 2:00 p.m. MDT

"LOST CANYONS OF THE GREEN RIVER: The Story Before Flaming Gorge Dam," by Roy Webb, University of Utah Press, $21.95, 158 pages (nf)

Roy Webb has captured the spirit of pre-1960s Green River history in his new book, “Lost Canyons of the Green River: The Story Before Flaming Gorge Dam.”

Today many enjoy fishing and boating on the waters of the Flaming Gorge Dam. Like children who have never met a deceased relative, they have no notion of the history that lies beneath the waters. Webb introduces the reader to this neglected “deceased relative.”

“Think of this book as a guidebook for a river you can no longer run,” writes Webb in the book’s introduction.

Historical facts and stories from journals, letters and interviews flow together as the author tells the story of around 100 miles of the Green River — the area affected when the Flaming Gorge Dam was built. The dam, part of the Colorado River Storage Project, started its first generator in 1963.

Stories of trappers, Native Americans, ranchers, renegades and river runners make the river’s history a colorful one. However, there is nothing offensive about the stories in this well-written book.

Chapter titles include “Before,” “Ranches and Badlands,” “Canyons and Rapids,” “Ashley Falls,” “The Rest of Red Canyon” and “The Dam.”

The last chapter, titled “Requiem,” is a tender tribute to the town of Linwood, Utah. Residents were displaced and their homes and property were moved, burned or bulldozed to make way for the dam.

The book’s layout is well-designed and flows nicely. There is enough white space, and the book includes many relevant illustrations, including detailed maps of the river sections affected by the dam, and historic black-and-white photos. Endnotes, a bibliography and an index are also included.

Webb’s easy-to-read style makes a very focused and potentially boring piece of history come to life. It is evident that the author not only loves the subject, but has done years of research to bring this work to fruition.

The author is a multimedia archivist for Special Collections at the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library. He has written many other publications about river history, including a chapter about the Green River for “History to Go” on the Utah State History website.

If you go ...

What: Roy Webb book signing

When: Friday, June 29, 7 p.m.

Where: Weller Book Works, 665 E. 600 South (Trolley Square), Salt Lake City

Web: www.samwellers.com

Rosemarie Howard lives in a 100-year-old house on Main Street, Springville, Utah. She enjoys creating multimedia projects. Her website is at www.dramaticdimensions.com.

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