Feeling good enough to get out after chemo we thought we’d scout out a campground where our whole family will join us in June up in the Manti-La Sal National Forest. We made it to the top of the mountain only to find the dirt road to Indian Springs gated closed, so we went on to some sacred ground, at least for me, further into Huntington Canyon to the Stuart Ranger Station, a USDF Historic Site that commemorates the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
My Grandfather, Lee E. Young, was the ranger there in the 20s and 30s and was instrumental in the CCC. My father (Dee) and uncle (Kurt) would talk for hours about growing up here and my grandfather made the best of a program designed to put young men to work during the Great Depression, a true shovel-ready job working on forestry conservation.
The whole family spent Summers there from 1928 to 1939, spanning my father’s fifth through his sixteenth year. The station has been restored to its original condition.
In 2012 the Seeley Fire broke out in a perfect storm of conditions that consumed 48,000 acres of the pristine canyon, completely surrounding this place of my forefathers. You can see in the pics below how close the inferno got to the cabin, but through the heroic efforts of a number of crews, the cabin and garage were spared. To have lost these structures would have tragically erased these artifacts that speak to the history of our family, as well as my grandfather’s saddle and photographic artifacts inside the cabin’s visitors’ center.
It was grounding to go back there, but still disconcerting to see the canyon’s scars. We ate lunch near the creek that flows down Nuck Woodward Canyon where I let my dad’s ashes into the water almost twenty years ago, and we gazed up into the cliffs where caves have been carved and faintly remembered a story or two about a coffee can full of rare metals being buried somewhere around there by Kurt-n-Dee.