Geneva Richards

Geneva Richards and other Museum of Moab Storytrekkers made small-scale models of the Mi Vida Mine during a six-week summer camp, where they learned about the area's rich history. Geneva won a miner's helmet for her efforts, according to Museum of Moab Education Program Director Andrea Stoughton. [Courtesy photo]

Local kids found refuge this summer at the Museum of Moab, to beat the sizzling hot days of the season.

Thanks to a partnership between the local 4-H Club and the Museum of Moab, kids between the ages of 6 and 12 had the opportunity to step back in time and meet the unique people who shaped the history of Moab.

Museum of Moab Education Program Director Andrea Stoughton created the Storytrekkers six-week summer program utilizing Canyon Legacy journal articles to tell the stories of the diverse and fascinating characters who once lived in Moab.

Each week, Stoughton told the tales of the journey's famous people endured to live in canyon country.

“I wanted to create a connection between these amazing people in history and the kids and have some fun in the process,” Stoughton said. “We played cooperative games and made crafts that inspired them to remember the cool folks we talked about.”

The kids learned that the establishment of Moab began when in 1855, when Alfred Billings and 41 men, the Elk Mountain Mission, attempted to settle the Moab area. These hardy men kept journals of their journey into unchartered territory, thus documenting a historic era.

Following the example of their ancestors, the Storytrekkers stitched together their own booklets to be used as journals to record each of their own unique histories.

Curt Stoughton, a retired firefighter and training officer for the Moab Valley Fire Department, also taught the kids knot-tying and rope-handling skills the pioneers used to lower wagons into the valley.

Their trip through local history continued to 1881, when Norman Taylor brought his family to Moab to graze his cattle and lived in the Elk Mountain Mission Fort until he built his house across the street from the fort in 1882; it is still standing today. Taylor built and owned a ferry boat that carried people, supplies and animals across the Grand River – later named the Colorado River – opening Moab to a migration of people from other areas of the Four Corners area. Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch came blazing through Moab with the sheriff and posse on their tail from Telluride, Colorado. Taylor unwittingly helped these outlaws to escape, taking them across the river to safety.

The kids also learned about Taylor's daughter Lydia Adelaide Taylor Maxwell – a remarkable woman, outstanding pioneer and businesswoman who owned and ran, along with her husband Philander, the Maxwell House Hotel. Addie was an excellent dressmaker and utilized her skills to open Maxwell’s Millinery and Maxwell’s Navajo Shop.

Moab resident Marsha Marshall came to the museum to tell the story about another extraordinary woman pioneer, her great-grandmother Daisy Taylor. She is currently writing a book of historical fiction about her grandmother’s life growing up in Moab. She read an excerpt from her book that depicts the spirit and character of her grandmother who grew up in Moab.

Another story centered around the life of John W. Williams, the first certified doctor in Moab, who made medical calls to areas surrounding Moab on horseback, carrying his medicines in his saddle bags. He donated his saddle bags and his beloved collection of Native American artifacts to the museum; they are now part of its collection.

The kids made their own pouches felting wool using soap and water to bind the wool fibers. They made soap sculptures with the leftover soap. Stoughton taught the group first aid and gave them first aid supplies to put in their wool pouches.