The River They Knew
For two million years, humpback fish knew the River as a place to breathe, a place to eat, the route to spawning grounds. The River was their home. The Shoshone, Arapaho, Ute, Palute, Hopi, Zuni and Navajo people knew the River when it was a wild torrent in the spring and a shallow, thread-like oasis in the summer. Adjacent meadows fed their horses and attracted game that fed the people. Fur trappers knew the River for the beaver, for a cool drink, for a quiet place to camp in the shade. Emigrants knew the River as the half-way point to Oregon and California, as a place to wash dingy clothes and as another obstacle to ford. John Wesley Powell knew the River as a force that can crush a boat and carve magnificent, colorful canyons. Pioneers knew the River as a source of irrigation water for their crops - if only they could divert the water. Real estate developers knew the River could make small desert communities blossom into beautiful cities. Miners knew the River could provide the water they needed to smelt copper, iron, silver and gold, to slurry coal and phosphate, to generate steam and electricity, to refine oil.