A Folk History of Many Lost Ways and Salvation Point

The National Park Service explains the phenomenon of Many Lost Ways with some blah blah blah about topography and watersheds and how people who can’t find their way instinctively follow water downhill, and so for 10,000 years those who are lost have been turning up here.

It makes sense – the hills above the Benjamin-Henry River do form something of a giant natural funnel – but that’s overly simple for what happens here. It doesn’t explain the spiritual wayfinding that gives the park its name.

native woman

“Young lovers who found each other along the river.”

The Native lore is rich with tales of great chiefs who found direction in these cliffs, young lovers who found each other along the river, fathers and sons who found understanding under these starry skies.

Many lost ways.

There’s something here – call it a True North of the Soul – that helps them get found.

It’s still happening today.


“Drag him around Many Lost Ways for a week and you’ll know.”

Not sure if you should marry him? Drag him around Many Lost Ways for a week and you’ll know.

Not sure what to do with your life? Come to Many Lost Ways and the answer will go home with you.

Year after year, new stories of people who arrived with a vexing problem and left with clarity and peace. The locals talk it up with the tourists:

“Did you hear about this couple?”

“Did you hear about that guy?”

“Did you hear about the family?”

Many lost ways. Found.

Of course the most famous lost people to get found here are Lieutenants Benjamin and Henry. They deserted John Wesley Powell just before he fell 1,800 feet down the Colorado River and landed fortuitously in the Grand Canyon. Had they stuck with him they might have survived to experience that glorious discovery, but instead they wandered around the Colorado Plateau for some weeks before instinctively following water downhill into what is now Many Lost Ways National Park.


“A fertile little valley on a navigable river.”

They washed up starving, broken and in despair on the bank of the river that now bears their names. They were taken in by the indigenous people and after a good meal and some rest realized they’d discovered a fertile little valley on a navigable river.

Stick that in your rapids and raft it, Powell.

The FCFL still follows the lucrative trade route they opened, anchored by Salvation Point.

Speaking of Salvation Point, no one’s sure if it was Benjamin or Henry who put quill to parchment, but the line from their log is famous here:

“We need not return as condemned deserters. We need not return as failed expeditioners. Today we have redeemed ourselves. Today we have reached our salvation point.”

So the name doesn’t have a particularly religious provenance, and that’s disappointing to some visitors. There are more bars than churches here.

Now you know.


Oh New TV, What Will You Show Us?

IMG_2909When I was in Eighth Grade I saved up enough lawn mowing money to buy my own TV for my own room and when we brought it home and set it up late on a school night the first thing it showed me was “The Tonight Show” – not Jimmy Fallon or Jay Leno but Johnny Carson.

It was a Zenith, American-made donchaknow, and I’m frugal so it served me for many years.

I watched the first Gulf War on that TV, Dan Rather and SCUD missiles and Stormin’ Norman Schwartzkopf, the green night vision Baghdad sky and all those images from the noses of the smart bombs, Colin Powell dignified, smart, trustworthy.

I followed Dale Earnhardt every Sunday on that TV, watched him clinch his seventh Winston Cup title with a dramatic win over Ted Musgrave at Rockingham – on my birthday – watched him finally win The 500, and watched on that TV the crash that killed him, then hung my head and prayed for his family.

That TV went with me to college, where it showed me the bombed-out Murrah Federal Building and where it also showed “A River Runs Through It” one night but I wasn’t watching because with me there was a pretty, ginger-haired girl I don’t know anymore who also wasn’t watching – a first for this late bloomer.

That TV brought me Monica Lewinski and Bill Clinton, who did not have sex with that woman, Ken Starr and articles of impeachment and that suspicious strike on Afghanistan that sure seemed like a diversion.

It was that TV my wife and I watched for wordless hours on 9/11.

I watched the second Gulf War on that TV, Wolf Blitzer and unmanned aerial vehicles, the rescue fairy tale of Jessica Lynch, WMD or maybe not, the sketchy buildup and testimony at the UN, Colin Powell betrayed, humiliated, wrong.

I fell asleep one evening in front of that TV and my wife woke me up in time to watch Barak Obama announce that Osama Bin Laden was dead.

I never missed “Lost” on that TV, and angrily shut it off after that sham final episode.

If that TV could talk.

I suppose it could, in a manner of speaking. But then one day last week while rearranging some furniture I cranked a little too hard on the cable input, and my trusty Zenith will say no more.

The new TV is beautiful. One of those big, flat-screen HD wall-mount jobs you can see from Venus and when it was delivered and set up on a Saturday afternoon the first thing it showed us was baseball, the home team down by ten runs.

I wonder what else we’ll see. Stay tuned.