Once again, we came upon the power of one person [or perhaps a few] to make a difference to a community. We had seen it at the Hubble Trading Post where Hubble made a difference to the local Navajos, in Lake Placid, Florida, in Helen, Georgia last summer, in Casey, Illinois and in the Wisconsin Dells in the fall.
Then in September, we drove through the Colorado National Monument just outside Grand Junction.
John Otto lived alone in the canyons and on the plateau southwest of Grand Junction, Colorado at the end of the 19th century. He was married briefly, but his wife couldn’t take the isolation and his eccentricities.
As tectonic plates pushed together millions of years ago creating the Rocky Mountains, the Uncompahgre Plateau rose over 2000 feet above the Colorado River. Then over millennia, water flowing off the plateau carved canyons leaving scattered columns here and there.
John Otto loved the place so much, he encouraged everyone in the area to lobby Congress to make it a National Park. He worked tirelessly without pay, not only pushing the idea but cutting trails through the area so that others could enjoy it too.
The efforts of Otto and those he convinced, resulted in the creation of the 32-square mile Colorado National Monument in 1911. Otto was named the park’s caretaker and held the job until 1927 at the grand salary of one dollar per month.
The only species we saw of the many animals in the park was the desert bighorn sheep. We captured a picture of some butts disappearing into the brush. But just seeing the vistas was worth driving the 23-mile long Rim Rock Drive. There are campgrounds for those who wish to stay longer and 45 miles of trails ranging from one just a quarter mile long to the eight and a half mile-long trail into the the No Thoroughfare Canyon.
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Date of our visit: 27 September 2018