Roger and Jerry Paystrup were the speakers at the Sons of Utah Pioneers’ January dinner and business meeting. They recently returned home from serving a mission for Rhe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bluff, Utah, often described as one of the most barren wilderness areas remaining in the lower 48 states.
Beloved by nature photographers and wilderness buffs, one can still drive for miles and miles of dirt roads and tracks and not see sign of human habitation. The Paystrups were asked to keep the mission open during the winter months for the first time ever and found an amazing amount of tourists (mainly from foreign lands) that found their way down to this dry bit of “Eden” and stopped by the Old Fort at Bluff to hear the pioneer adventure.
Wagon trains largely became a very lost art of travel after the coming of the Transcontinental Railroad. The southeast part of the state was still the last part of Utah without colonizing and civilizing benefits. Robber’s Roost was still en vogue. President John Taylor asked members from the southwestern side of Utah to build a road from west to east and thus allow civilization to get a thumb hold in that lawless part of the state. The Paystrups reported through speech and video, that arduous work of faith and obedience by our pioneer forefathers, and how life in many ways, even today, hasn’t changed that much.
It was a fascinating presentation of how these pioneer men, women and children, built a road down a cliff into the Colorado River. This is still known as “Hole in the Rock” today and can be reached by boat on Lake Powell. Thinking the most difficult part of their journey was over, they were deeply surprised and disappointed to find mile after mile of wilderness that presented challenges like those it had just taken six weeks to build. These brave souls continued on undeterred, and many of their ancestors still live in the area today. The area is so vast, with so few inhabitants, that some Native American children can still be found on a school bus for three hours a day to receive their education.
The Sons of Utah Pioneers invite anyone interested in history and pioneers and their doings to come meet with them the first Thursday of every month at the wonderful TATC building on the western end of 200 South in Tooele. They have a pot-luck dinner and business meeeting at 6:30 p.m., followed by presentations like the one the Paystrups shared. Come join us for a wonderful evening of learning, eating and socializing.