In this heavily illustrated book, Mike Milligan has captured the
still developing story of one of those remote, but no longer
secluded, corners of the Colorado Plateau.
Upstream from Moab on the Colorado River, near the Colorado state
line, there is a relatively short, deep canyon that has become one
of the most popular river-running destinations in America. The
canyon is known as Westwater. Its popularity is largely due to the
thrill provided by one of the most dangerous and challenging
stretches of white water on the Colorado---Skull Rapid.
Near the head of the canyon are the remnants of the tiny town of
Westwater, which has had an interesting and eventful history of its
own, partly because of the river and canyon, partly because of the
railroad that passes through it, and partly because of its
remoteness. It has attracted over the years more than its fair
share of colorful characters---government explorers and agents,
boosters and get-rich-quick dreamers, cattle and sheep men, outlaws
and bootleggers, and, of course, river runners.
Mike Milligan, who came to know the area as a river guide, has
written a thorough history of this out-of-the-way place. While it
has a colorful history that makes its story interesting in and of
itself, Westwater's significance derives more from a phenomenon of
the modern West-thousands of recreational river runners. They have
pushed a backwater place into the foreground of modern popular
culture in the West.
Westwater seems to represent one common sequence in western
history: the late opening of unexplored territories; sporadic,
often unsuccessful attempts to develop them; renewed obscurity when
development doesn't succeed; their attraction of a marginal society
of misfits or loners; and modern rediscovery due to new cultural
motives, especially outdoors recreation, which has brought a great
number of people into thousands of remote corners of the West.
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