Utah River Running Archives

River running has grown from the obscure pasttime of a few hardy explorers to a major component of the tourist industry in the United States and around the world. Each year, thousands of people gravitate to wild rivers, challenging themselves in whitewater, seeking quiet and beauty, and experiencing nature unchanged. The history of this growth has not been well-documented because river running is done far from the public eye, and thus the legacy of river running was largely an oral one for many years, passing from campfire to boat ramp. 

Boats on the shore

River runners with truck

In 1985, the Special Collections department at the J. Willard Marriott Library launched an effort to capture the history  of river running in the Intermountain West before those who made and lived it disappeared. Since that time, we have amassed a wide-ranging collection of oral histories, photographs, films, publications, and manuscript materials that document the history of river travel on the Colorado River system. Not only do these collections document the recreational aspects of river running, they also cover environmental history, water use, and development on the Colorado River and its tributaries. 

Men in boats


The Utah River Running Archives are open to all students, researchers, and scholars, as well as the general public. Over 8000 images of early river runners have been digitized and are available online at lib.utah.edu. Although the Utah River Running Archives materials do not circulate, certified archivists, professional librarians, and skilled staff are available to help with any research request. Copies of photographs, papers, and films can be obtained after consultation with library staff.




If you have additional information or corrections to any information listed with the photographs, please contact the photograph archivists (801)585-3073.

P0004 Wasatch Mountain Club photograph collection

The Wasatch Mountain Club photograph collection consists of four photo albums containing prints from the early years of the organization and includes photos of group members involved in both winter and summer activities in the Wasatch Mountains. Included are loose photographs on similar subjects. The Club was organized in 1920 to provide an education and activity group for those who enjoyed hiking, ski touring, river running and mountain climbing.

P0022 Arthur Crawford

1946. B&W photos. Program from dedication of Hite Ferry, 1946.-

P0031 William Dawson

US Representative from Utah, 1950s. B&W photos of proposed dam site.

P0063 River Boat photograph collection

The River Boat photograph collection contains images of river boats on the Green, Colorado, and San Juan rivers in southern Utah.

P0068 Dick Beck

1890s. Photographs of the San Juan River region by Charles Goodman.

P0077 Green River, Utah photograph collection

The Green River, Utah photograph collection contains general views of the town of Green River, photographs of buildings and industries, including cattle, mining, and the railroad. The collection also contains portraits of individuals, views of the river, photographs taken on the Neville Expedition and the Burg-Holmstrom Expedition, both in 1938.

P0085 Green River photograph collection

The Green River photograph collection contains photographs of different views along the Green River taken by a photographer named Stark from Helper, Utah. Copies of four prints published in "A Canyon Voyage" by Frederick Dellenbaugh.

P0207 Carl Weeks photograph collection

The Carl Weeks photograph collection contains photographs and slides documenting Carl Weeks' travels in the southwest United States, including early photographs of Zion Canyon. Also included are family photographs and images of Indians, mountain scenery, Yellowstone National Park, Zion National Park, and a trip to Europe.

P0209 Midland Bridge Company photograph collection

This collection was purchased by Special Collections because of the excellent views of the bridges built by the Midland Bridge Company around the turn of the century. Three different bridges are shown, one over the Virgin River near St. George, one over the Green River at Jensen, and one over the Grand River near Moab.

P0210 River running photograph collection

The River Running photograph collection contains photographs of river running scenes, including portraits of various individuals involved in river running. Includes a photograph of the John Wesley Powell expedition (1871).

P0277 Lee's Ferry photograph collection

The Lee's Ferry photograph collection contains photographs of the area around Lees Ferry taken by Roy D. Webb.

P0323 Charles Bernheimer, archaeologist, 1930s

Photographs taken during seventh Bernheimer expedition of members of party, scenery, archaeological sites and artifacts, and flora and fauna throughout the Colorado Plateau, including Glen Canyon.

P0333 Emery County Aerial photograph collection

The Emery County Aerial photograph collection contains aerial photographs of an area in Emery County, Utah including tributaries of the San Raphael River.

P0341 Norman D. and Doris Nevills photograph collection

P0355 Thorne Mayes photograph collection

The Thorne Mayes photograph collection contains aerial views, 1934-1937, of the San Juan River drainage area, the Rio Grande watershed, and of the Navajo and Zuni Indian Reservations in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. This collection also includes an album of hand colored photographs of the Grand Canyon by Fred Harvey of the El Tovar Studio. As well as, slides of various areas in the southwest United States taken between 1962 and 1980.

P0673 Bonnie Speyer Carluccio

1950s. Photographs of family river trips on Cataract Canyon, Green River.

P0761 Bruce Berger

Color digital scans of stereo slides taken on Glen Canyon trip in 1963.

P0815 Dr. Fred Darville

Color slides and trip log of trip through Glen Canyon, 1950s.

P0819 Dr. George Barfoot

Color slides and journal of 1950s Glen Canyon trip.

P0825 Alvin Colville

Color slides and journal of trip through Glen Canyon, 1950s.

P0869 Elbert Dansie

1950s. Slides of river trips through Glen Canyon.


A0171 Mexican Hat Expeditions Grand Canyon River Trip video 

The Mexican Hat Expeditions Grand Canyon river trip video (1960) documents a rafting trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon taken by Mexican Hat Expeditions from Lees Ferry Fort to Lake Mead. Salt Lake City river runner Don Neff appears in the film.

A0182 Don Briggs

A0183 Thorn Mayes 

Color films of San Juan and lower Glen Canyon 1930s

A0197 Dr. C. Gregory Crampton (historian)

Color films of San Juan and Glen Canyons

A0239 Mike Walton 

VHS videotape of various river trips, including Bert Loper 1947, TV programs about river running 1978 and Holiday River Expeditions 1980

A0245 Norman D. Nevills 

Color films of San Juan and lower Glen Canyon 1930s-1940s

A0253 KSUB Radio (Cedar City, Utah)

Phonodisc of program about Glen Canyon Dam

A0320 Alton Morton  

Morton's films includes narrative films about river running on the Green and Colorado Rivers as well as tourism films featuring Utah's scenic desert Southwest and national parks commissioned by the Utah Tourist and Publicity Council and other public organizations. 

A0360 Colorado Plateau Symposium

VHS videotape of symposium held at the University of Utah about the future of the Colorado Plateau April 9, 1993

A0501 Glen Canyon Institute

8mm color films of Glen Canyon 1990s

A0511 Charles Eggert 

Several color films of Green and Colorado Rivers from Wyoming to Lake Mead, including "Wilderness River Trail," which was made during the controversy over Echo Park Dam.

A0512 Arth Chaffin 

Color film of Glen Canyon 1930s-1960s

A0513 S.J. Quinney 

16mm color film of a 1958 Grand Canyon river trip

A0525 Nancy Streator-Reuling 

VHS videotape of copies of films made during trips down the Green and Colorado Rivers with Norman Nevills 1947-1949

A0528 Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA)

16mm film of a trip through Glen Canyon and down the Colorado River 1960s

A0529 Hatch River Expeditions

VHS video copies of early river trips taken by Hatch River Expeditions 1940s-1970s

A0532 Brandy Blank

Color video of Glen Canyon before 1949

A0534 French Kayakers

The French kayakers river running video collection (1938, 2011) consists of edited footage of a kayak trip down the Green and Colorado Rivers undertaken by French kayakers Antoine DeSeynes, Bernard DeColmont and Genevieve DeColmont in the autumn of 1938. A filmmaker, Bernard DeColmont made a color film on 16mm stock. Antoine DeSeynes made a black and white film on 8mm stock. The collection also contains audio recordings of an interview about the with Patrice DeColmont conducted in 2011.

A0546 Harry Aleson

VHS videotapes of films taken by Aleson in Glen Canyon, Grand Canyon, and other points along Colorado River 1930s-1940s

A0547 Operation Glen Canyon

VHS video documentary about the building of Glen Canyon Dam.  The film was made by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1963.

A0548 Flaming Gorge

VHS videotape of the construction of Flaming Gorge Dam

A0549 Colorado River History

VHS videotape: "Colorado River Expedition," 'Shooting Grand Canyon Rapids" (1940s-1950s) and an interview with Don and Ted Hatch (1991)

A0550 Glen Canyon Archaeology

VHS dubs of films produced by the University of Utah Anthropology Department and the National Parks Service reporting the process and findings of Utah archeologist Jesse Jennings' survey and excavation of Glen Canyon and the Escalante River area prior to the building of Glen Canyon Dam and the flooding of Lake Powell.  Narrated by Jennings.  1957-1959

A0562 Aaron Ross 

16mm films of trips on the Colorado River and its tributaries 1950s-1960s

A0564 Lynn Larsen

VHS video of a talk about Hole-in-the-Rock Trail

A0586 Amil Quayle home movies

The Amil Quayle home movies (1948-1965, 1999) consist of footage of river trips and other vacations and home movies taken by Quayle and his family 1948-1965 and features a long trip on the Green River between Manila and Jensen, Utah in 1951. The original 16mm footage was compiled onto a VHS videocassette in 1999 with narration added. Amil Quayle is a river guide from Saint Anthony, Idaho.

A0587 Ken Smith 

Betacam copy of a film of a 1953 Glen Canyon river trip

A0606 Gus Scott 

Color film of San Juan and lower Glen Canyon 1950

A0626 Tom Chandler

Home movies of Utah including Arches National Monument, Glen Canyon, Flaming Gorge and other Colorado Plateau locations 1950s-1960s

A0641 Joseph Desloge

16mm and 8mm color films of river trips on the Colorado, Green, San Juan and other rivers.

A0654 W.L. "Bud" Rusho 

Videotapes of the construction of Glen Canyon Dam

A0692 Frederick Hoffman Wood 

Color 8mm films of E-H expedition

A0718 Old Timers Colorado River Trip video collection

The old timers Colorado River trip video collection (1994) consists of video recordings of an expedition down the Colorado River designed to document changes to the river, its geology and its ecosystem in the years after the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam. Representatives of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and veteran river guides were joined by historians and archivists. This collection includes footage of the river trip, group meetings at Northern Arizona University, and anecdotes by veteran river runners about past journeys and historic rapids.

A0722 River Runners Oral History Project

Video oral history interviews with various river runners

A0738 Wayne McConkie 

Color 16mm films of the Colorado Plateau

A0739 Reynold Brown 

Film of a 1958 Glen Canyon trip with SOCOTWA (South Cottonwood Ward)

A0740 SOCOTWA (river running group)

Films from the LDS river running group SOCOTWA (South Cottonwood Ward) 1940s-1960s, oral history interviews from 2003

A0746 Remo Lavagnino 

Color films of river running in the Colorado Plateau area

A0827 Hardy Jenkinson family home movies

The Hardy Jenkinson family home movies (1951-1969) consist of family and vacation footage including footage of river-running throughout Utah and the surrounding areas.

A0922 Peter Edward Gibbs oral history recording

The Peter Edward Gibbs oral history audio recordings (2006) consists of an interview with Gibbs, who discusses his life experiences pertaining to climbing, caving, skiing, kayaking, and running rivers. A doctor of mechanical engineering, Gibbs is also an avid outdoorsman and was instrumental in the development of the Gibbs Ascender, an aid for climbers, spelunkers, arborists and rescue workers.

A0938 O.L. "Brig" Tapp 

Amateur narrative films in outdoors settings in Utah and throughout the Intermountain West 1950s-1960s.  There are several films based on river trips, including "Glen Canyon" (1956).

A1022 Malcom "Moki Mac" Ellingson 

8mm and 16mm films of river trips on the Yampa, Green and Colorado Rivers, frequently in the Glen Canyon area 1956-1963.  This collection also includes 16mm dubs of a 35mm nitrate print of a 1914 or 1915 trip down the Colorado River.

A1025 Andrew Pfeiffenberger river running video collection

The Andrew Pfeiffenberger river running video collection (1954-1955) consists of home movies taken by Pfeiffenberger of river trip vacations with Bus Hatch and "Smuss" Allen on the Yampa River and Green River in Dinosaur National Monument in Eastern Utah and Western Colorado.

A1087 Reeder family safaris home movie collection

The Reeder family safaris silent home movie collection (1963-1966) consists of home movies of family vacations in Southern Utah. Most films include footage of river running on the Colorado River. Locations include Clear Creek, Lake Powell and the Grand Canyon.

A1105 Ken Sleight river running video collection

The Ken Sleight river running video collection (circa 1962) consists of a 16mm silent film of a river trip through Glen Canyon. The areas depicted in the film were flooded after the completion of Glen Canyon Dam in 1963.

A1140 Green River Archives film collection

The Green River Archives video collection (circa 1969) consists of a film produced by the U.S. Department of the Interior's Geological Survey on John Wesley Powell. The film describes Powell's first expedition down the Grand Canyon on the Green River, highlighting the area's geological features.


Accn 1000 Roy Webb papers

The Roy Webb papers (1926-1989) consist of research materials for books on Colorado and Green Rivers. This collection also includes notes, articles, copies of books, photographs, correspondence, newspaper research, and other miscellaneous river-related items, plus drafts, page proof, galleys etal from If We Had a Boat (U of U Press, 1986). Roy Webb is a historian, river runner, and author.

Accn 1307 Grand Canyon Management Plan

The Grand Canyon management plan collection (1967-1974) contains memoranda and correspondence concerning meeting reviews, new regulations, research requirements, and safety procedures in Grand Canyon National Park. These memorandua and letters were written by the government offices of the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, and Grand Canyon National Park and sent to river running companies or vice versa.

Accn 1325 Hatch River Expeditions papers

The Hatch River Expeditions records contain correspondence, logs, employment records and oral histories from the Hatch family. Robert Rafael "Bus" Hatch and his brothers, Alton and Tom, began boating in the Vernal, Utah area in the late 1920s and formed Hatch River Expeditions, one of the best known river outfitters in the western United States.

Accn 1705 Leslie A. Jones papers

The Leslie A. Jones papers (1963-1995) contain interviews, a chronology, river running accounts, and a river runner journal. Leslie A. Jones is a civil engineer in Salt Lake City, Utah who has been active as a river runner for many years. He has also made several contributions to canoe and kayak design.

Accn 1714 Aaron Belnap Ross papers

The Aaron Belnap Ross papers (1857-1971) consists of poetry, clippings, journals, and biographical sketches of Dr. Ross, mainly as they pertain to his interest in river running on the Green, Colorado, and other rivers of the western United States.

Accn 1799 George Barfoot papers

The George Barfoot Collection (1962-1999) consists of a journal and a letter. The journal is the record of a trip through Glen Canyon, on the Colorado River in 1962. The first part is handwritten and the second is a typed transcript of the first. The letter was written in 1999 by Michael St. Clair to Dr. Richard Ingebretsen, of the Glen Canyon Institute.

Accn 1801 W. Stewart Gardiner papers

The W. Stewart Gardiner papers (1938-1993) consist of essays, news clippings, and photocopies of photographs relating to river trips, particularly on the Green River. Gardiner was an early twentieth-century river runner.

Accn2090 Albert (Bert) and Rachel Jamison Loper papers

The Albert (Bert) Loper and Rachel Jamison Loper papers (1893-1975) contain travel logs, commentary, river reports, correspondence, and newspaper articles from both Albert Loper (1869-1949) and Rachel Loper (1892-1975). Bert Loper know as the " The Grand Old Man of the Colorado" is one of the most well know early river runners. He was said to have covered more miles over the Colorado than any other man during his lifetime. After his death in 1949, his remains were found 26 years later in April, 1975 and buried with his wife who had died in February 1975.

Accn 2392 Ken Sleight papers

The Ken Sleight papers consist of a study titled, Following Powell in Cataract which details the two expeditions of John Wesley Powell and Sleight's experiences tracing Powell's route in Cataract Canyon.

Accn 2486 Powell Society records

The Powell Society was incorporated in 1969 in order to promote the general study of the canyons of the American West, the study of the Colorado River Basin, and the study of John Wesley Powell and his work, and also to facilitate the publication of materials generated by these studies. These are their official records, as collected by Dr. Henry W. Toll during his time as president of the society (1969-2008). Materials cover all aspects of the society's activity, whether administrative, scholarly, or recreational in nature.

Accn 2554 Warm Springs Rapid history project 

The Warm Springs Rapid history project consists of materials related to the preparation of a special research trip for June 2-6, 2008 for the purpose of bringing together as many of the people who were there at Warm Springs in June of 1965 as possible. Warm Springs Rapid, on the Yampa River in Dinosaur National Monument, is one of the most difficult stretches of runnable whitewater in the United States.

Accn 2636 W.L. "Bud" Rusho papers

The W. L. " Bud" Rusho papers (1605-2011) consist of journals, correspondence, articles, book reviews, interviews, manuscripts, poems, newspaper clippings, motion picture scripts, lectures, maps, papers, reports, memos, diaries, documents, minutes, videotape materials, and assorted publications.

Accn 2673 Herm Hoops papers

The Herm Hoops papers consists of writings and a compilation of scanned historical documents as supplemental materials to Hoops writings titled The History of Rubber Boats and How They Saved Rivers and The Dream Builders - Supplement. Included is information regarding rubber fabricators for inflatable boats such as B.F. Goodrich, Rubber Crafters and DIB.

Ms 0100 Charles Kelly papers

The Charles Kelly papers (1889-1971) contain personal materials, including his diary (1918-1971), a copy of his autobiography (1936), day books, and logs and journals of six river trips taken from 1932 to 1942. Included also is correspondence with colleagues exchanging information on research and writing, miscellaneous research materials, and published and unpublished manuscripts. Also present are periodicals in which some of his articles and photographs are published; a typescript copy of "The Field Notes of Robert Brewster Stanton, 1889-1890," which is an examination of the Colorado River for a railway line; and the "Journal of Albert King Thurber," an explorer of the area between the Sevier River Valley and the Colorado River. The collection contains copies of Kelly's six books published between 1930 and 1938. Several of Kelly's paintings of Southern Utah's red rock country are also part of the collection.

Ms 0552 Norman D. and Doris Nevills papers

The Norman D. and Doris Nevills papers (1890s-1952) constitute one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of original research materials on the history of travel on the Colorado and Green Rivers and their tributaries. Included are correspondence, diaries, logs, subject files, news clippings, and business records. Norman Nevills (1909-1949), supported by his wife Doris, was one of the pioneers of commercial river running.

Ms0661 Music Temple Visitors Registers (View the registers online!)

The Music Temple visitors registers (1938-1961) consists of notebooks, notepads, and miscellaneous scraps of paper upon which were written names and (usually) dates of members of river parties who stopped at Music Temple in Glen Canyon of the Colorado River before its inundation by Lake Powell in the 1960s.

If you are interested in donating materials to the Utah River Running Archives, please contact us at 801-581-8863.

Utah River Running Archives materials can be requested at Special Collections, located on the 4th floor of J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah. It is recommended that you contact us before you arrive to ensure that we have all the materials you want ready for your arrival.

    Special Collections Hours

    M-F, 8am - 6pm

    Sat, 9:15am - 6pm

    Call us at: 801-581-8863