Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mysteries of the American Southwest

                I recently wrote a review of Eric Blehm’s book, The Last Season, which covers the disappearance of back-country ranger Randy Morgenson in the Sierra Nevada in 1996. For 5 years, what happened to Morgenson remained a mystery until evidence was uncovered in 2001. I won’t go into detail just what was found in case you plan to read the book but haven’t gotten around to it yet. But even with the discovery of certain evidence in 2001, much still remains a mystery.
                And that got me to thinking about numerous other mysteries in the southwest part of our country that I’ve learned about in recent years. Here are a few that might interest you.
                Everett Reuss, born March 28, 1914, was a talented and artistic young man. As he neared  adulthood, he began exploring areas of the great Southwest, especially Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. In November, 1934 – just 20 years old – he left Escalante, Utah, heading towards the Colorado River. Leading 2 burros with supplies to last for at least 2 months, he disappeared into the desert. His burros were found grazing, but no trace of Reuss has ever been found. Although young, he had lived a rich life and had associated with the likes of Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange. He left behind an impressive collection of art and writings for one so young.
                The story of Everett Reuss is not as widely known as the story of Glen and Bessie Hyde. Glen Hyde (born December 9, 1898) and his wife Bessie (born December 29, 1905) were married April 12, 1928. In October of that year, they set off on a delayed honeymoon rafting trip down the Colorado River in a 20 foot wooden sweep scow that Glen had built himself. The couple was last seen November 18, 1928, after resupplying in an area now encompassed by Grand Canyon National Park. Their scow was later found intact down river, with no trace of the missing couple. Various theories exist, and I leave those to you to research if you are interested.
                One of the more bizarre stories from this part of the country concerns the family of Marshall South. From 1930 to 1947, South and his wife, Tanya, lived a hermit lifestyle in the desert. South (born Roy Bennett Richards in Australia on February 24, 1889) was a writer who authored novels, poetry, short stories, essays, and magazine articles. He moved his family to an area today encompassed by Anza-Borrego Desert State Park east of San Diego, California. There on Ghost Mountain they built their home, which they christened Yaquitepec. With no water in the area, they used a system of cisterns to collect rain water. Three children were born to the couple while they lived on Ghost Mountain, though the actual delivery of each child was done in nearby Oceanside. From his home atop his mountain, South published a series of articles detailing their primitive life, a series later compiled as Marshall South and the Ghost Mountain Chronicles.
                I’m sure there are other mysteries of the area. If you know of any, please share with me as this is an area of great interest to me.

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