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Sunday, 3 February 2013



Beach at Lake Powell, Arizona

This is the place to which your people came
for want of a destination less well advertised
They should not have stayed
as though the decision to leave were ever really in view
or this has not affected you
Place your hands on the hood of the vehicle
You have a right to remain silent
You can never wash away the stain
The universe is unfolding as it was meant to do
and out there in the darkness somewhere
beyond the shame beyond the pain
beyond the permanent humiliation
where that over the rainbow yonder remains
always wild and blue
they're getting ready for kickoff
almost as though they were about to be set free

Mud Pie, Lake Powell, Arizona

Lake Powell, Arizona


Beach activity on Lake Powell

Lake Powell, Arizona

Lake Powell, Arizona


Lake Powell, Arizona

Lake Powell, created by the flooding of Glen Canyon above the controversial Glen Canyon Dam

Arizona -- near Page

Lake Powell, Arizona

Camping on banks of Lake Powell

Navajo boys watch a scuba diving class at Lake Powell

Navajo Generating Plant under construction, Page, Coconino County, Arizona. Occupying over a thousand acres leased from the Navajo Indians, the plant will be the largest electric generating station in Arizona

Strip mining on Indian burial grounds by Peabody Coal Company, Black Mesa, Arizona

The Navajo Mine of the Utah Construction and Mining Company, Shiprock, Arizona. Desolate landscape is a characteristic result of strip mining

Strip mining operations at the Navajo Coal Mine in northern Arizona

Strip mining with dragline equipment at the Navajo Mine in northern Arizona


Strip mining operations at the Navajo Mine of the Utah Construction and Mining Company. The mine services the Four Corners Power Generating Plant

Strip mining operations at the Navajo Mine of the Utah Construction and Mining Company. The mine services the Four Corners Power Generating Plant


Hauling coal by night from the Navajo Mine to the Four Corners Generating Plant


Trucks haul coal from the Navajo Mine to the Four Corners Generating Plant, Shiprock, Arizona

Trailer court, Page, Coconino County, Arizona

Trailer court, Page, Coconino County, Arizona

Mobile homes at journey's end, Page, Coconino County, Arizona


Lots for sale at Lake Powell Estates, trailer village

Photos by Lyntha Scott Eiler (1946-), June 1972, for the Environmental Protection Agency's DOCUMERICA project (U.S. National Archives)

Folly is always folly -- yet this one is rare in that the mistake of damming Glen Canyon became clear within the lifetimes of the people responsible. But it's also rare in that, here, we may really get a second chance. If the Glen Canyon Institute and others have their way, we'll bypass this dam, fill Lake Mead, and designate Glen Canyon a national park.... When that happens, the drained Lake Powell and the resurrected Glen Canyon will be emblematic not of our folly but of the graciousness with which nature is still willing to meet our adolescent species halfway. It will be a monument to the possibility that we haven't totally screwed up the planet forever, that we might still be able to back off a little and make our peace with the rest of Creation.

-- Bill McKibben, forward to Resurrection: Glen Canyon and a New Vision for the American West (2009)


Elmo St. Rose said...

yes,and Edward Abbey...for scenes
of Albuquerque,New Mexico before
it became an urban sprawl...see
the black and white movie, The Brave Cowboy with Kirk will draw you to the
West and there's still a great deal
left...By definition...a poet can
see the whole world in a grain of

TC said...


Many grains of truth left in that hourglass.

Hearts in the right places...

Kirk Douglas remembers.



"O beautiful for spacious skies" -- just don't get too close to that strip mine.

"where that over the rainbow yonder remains
always wild and blue
they're getting ready for kickoff"


light coming into sky above still black
ridge, white half moon through branches
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

density of matter, nor does
it seem possible that

fact, in the following form,
which we have in view

triangular white peak in grey white sky,
green trees on ridge to the right of it

Wooden Boy said...

This is a sharp sketch of our unfreedom.

The light looks vicious in those photos.

TC said...

And the light's not the only thing vicious in the bigger picture here,

which we have in view.

The Glen Canyon project is a salient (and notorious) example of the hubristic attempts of men to control and exploit nature for perceived gain. It has irrevocably altered river flow, landscape and ecology in the Canyon Country of the Colorado.

The nominal community of Page, seen in some of the photos, rose up as a company town for dam construction workers. The site of those trailer villages was once the stark butte-and-mesa country indelibly evoked by the Krazy Kat cartoons of George Herriman, who vacationed annually in Coconino Country long before there was ever a Page.

I've contemplated the figure of Krazy as an early ambassador of the anxious middle classes -- poets among them -- to the painted-desert wildernesses.

Thankfully there is usually a troublemaking Ignatz in the mix.

Many who care about such matters view the dam's effects as an environmental tragedy. Edward Abbey's 1975 novel The Monkey Wrench Gang fictionalizes a fantasy of blowing it up. The 1983 Dream Garden Press edition of the novel was appropriately illustrated by R. Crumb, whose vision of the flow of the action decorated the banks with some of those plastic-boat-and-camera-toting "recreational tourist" types of whom the real-life originals can be seen in the top selections from Lyntha Scott Eiler's photos, here.

The source of all this revision of nature:

Lyntha Scott Eiler: Glen Canyon Dam under construction, with reservoir -- the man-made Lake Powell -- forming upriver.

Without their tubular trailers and beach umbrellas, in this desert, tourists would be lost and end up as road kill or buzzard lunch, the riverine life forms killed off by the dam no longer present to console their restless ghosts.

As for the strip mining of the Four Corners region, that is again a historical environmental tragedy whose effects (especially airborne toxic pollution from the big power generating plants) have been perhaps little known to those far away, but for those in the high plateau neighborhood, as intimate as, and inextricable from, the air breathed.

In Lyntha Scott Eiler's photo-study we see the leasing of lands from the tribes going hand in hand with the violation of those historical lands, much of the transgression branded, for big energy corporate P.R. purposes, with the word Navajo. (As is documented in another series of photos in her arresting -- and chilling -- portfolio, traditional agricultural lands of the Hopi have also been affected.)

But hey, the cultural bonuses. Free scuba lessons for curious native American bystanders at the lake that was never a lake and whose banks were never sand, always just plain dirt and stone.