Friday, August 31, 2012

Josie Bassett Morris

Green River
Utah wilderness was settled by many colorful figures but a little known woman stands out for being tenacious in the face of adversity.  Josie Morris dealt with the typical pioneering hardship: eking a living out nothing in the middle of nowhere.  However, the territory was filling up and the state had entered the union; people were there and so was man's Law.

Josie's claim to fame was that she was a wild west woman going solo in a codified world, an American woman in an arid land. Her challenge was being one of the last homesteaders in the modern context of strict water rights and land ownership laws.

Sand Spit - Green River

Someone had already staked a claim to the Green River water rights and he wasn't sharing.  Though hardly anyone lived in the area known today as Dinosaur National Monument, a few ranchers had cattle grazing on  the open range.  Josie's options were limited and she chose an unwanted patch of dry dirt bounded by massive bedrock, relatively close to Vernal.


She couldn't access the river, so she squeezed water out of the rocks; almost literally; and she made her own corner of the desert bloom.

Artesian Spring

Precious autumn rainfall seeps into porous rock formations, freezes during the winter, and is released in Spring like trickling water from a soaked sponge.  Josie captured the dribble, channeled it, and made it flow to her land; homestead irrigation a rustic aqueduct. And, she fashioned a pond, storing water for her fields, hogs, and other barn animals.

Homestead Irrigation

Although Josie did not imbibe forbidden juice during Prohibition, she made moonshine; she conducted business.  Money raised by her stilling output bought building materials for a modest, yet comfortable cabin; most notably, expensive glass windows.

Josie Morris's Cabin

We take glazed windows for granted today, but they were a valuable innovation allowing ample lighting while keeping the elements outside and maintaining a comfortable temperature inside.  Josie's cabin windows are remarkably big and wonderfully segmented into cottage style panels.  By installing a fire place her rustic cabin was transformed into a home during cold winters.  How she got wood in a desert place is a mystery, most likely she bought coal with her hard earned illicit money.

Into the Rocks

Today Josie Morris' legacy is a fertile canyon home to wild flora and fauna.  So after visiting Dinosaur
National Monument and seeing a fossilized dinosaur head

Dinosaur Head

or two take a side trip out to Hog Canyon  - named after Josie's favorite home grown food.
It will be a rewarding surprise: an oasis in the desert.


  1. LLevo dias sin poder casi ni comentar sin tiempo para el blog..pero paso por aqui a dejarte un saludo.. Feliz fin de semana.. Besos

  2. Gracias bella! Esta' barbara tu blog y cada ves mejor. Feliz finde Marylin... Besote :)

  3. Gracias Juan, pero se te hecha de menos asi que pasa mas seguido.. Besotes

    1. Debo dejarte mensages, porque a veces paso de incgonito y leo tus bellos pensamientos: son realmente interesantes Marylin. Beso y abrazo :)