Glory Days at Dutch John
Ashley National Forest, Utah, 1992–2000
by Byron Loosle, FS Archaeologist
They say when you get old you just relive the glory years instead of creating new ones. Now that I am old and crippled, but with the Dutch John report finally finished, it may be appropriate to reminisce a little. We recorded the first site on the project in 1992. This project has been going on nearly my entire tenure on this forest. I completed both a master’s thesis and a doctoral dissertation in less time! I remember long hot days in the sun and the cold ice cream at the Dutch John store. We drove the road between Vernal and Dutch John so many times, but the only thing I can remember from those trips is my summer intern, Jamie McLaughlin, jokingly asking about the “carnivorous” (coniferous) trees. This led to lengthy discussions of whether they roamed in packs, herds, or flocks.
As we began writing the report, FS Archaeological Technicians Clay Johnson and Dan Pugh experimented with several new approaches to drawing maps, illustrating artifacts, and preparing documents. Some techniques worked, others worked better, and some didn’t work at all. While drawing one of the maps, Dan locked up his computer so thoroughly our computer specialist had to unplug it from the wall just to turn it off.
I was not particularly helpful toward the end of this project. I had scheduled sinus surgery in November. Too many dusty excavations and cabins, combined with allergies to several trees (good thing I work for the FS) have created some problems. I was trying to get back on my feet after surgery by returning to my exercise program. The first day back, I hurt my knee. It’s a long tawdry tale, but the specialist assured me it was just a little cartilage. He would “scope” it, and I’d be good as new in 2–3 weeks. As he was operating, he found that I had ruptured my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), an injury commonly associated with athletes who make a lot more money than I do. After three months, I am about halfway back to full recovery. I had hoped to be ready the first of June. So while Clay was working feverishly on the Dutch John report, I’d wander in for a few hours in a drug-induced stupor to confuse him or demand more work. He was able to finish despite my best efforts to muddle things up.
The Dutch John report is not the only publication to be finished this year. At the end of 1999, an article on the prehistory of the High Uintas by David Madsen, Thomas Scott, and Loosle was published in a volume called Intermountain Archaeology, edited by Madsen and Michael Metcalf (University of Utah Press). Two other articles will be printed in 2000. The report on the Merkley Butte excavations will be published in a forthcoming issue of Utah Archaeology. I will also have an article in Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology that argues that the Fremont folks on the south slope hiked across the Uintas to collect stone for tools. Efforts to put some of the Dutch John materials on the Internet are underway.