Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Legend of Negro Bill

last weekend, a group of awesome people went down to moab. they didn't have much planned out, just that they wanted to do some awesome hiking. while perusing the maps of trails in the area, one name popped out at them: negro bill canyon.
now, i was in this group, and when we opened that map, that was the first name to pop out at me. if i was in georgia or mississippi, that name might not have struck me as hard. but we were in utah, where racism is just a rumor, and there certainly don't seem to be enough black people around to name places after. i'm not saying that utah doesn't have its bigotry, but there really isn't much true racism, only white people who haven't met a black person and are therefore not mentally geared to deal with it when they interact with one.
while we were in the canyon, we were trying to fill out the story of negro bill (as pictured pondering above). obviously, he was cool enough to have a canyon named after him. our story mostly revolved around him having some sort of restaurant up the canyon for us to eat at (we were hiking this trail just before dinner). there were also tales of him having 6 wives stashed throughout the canyon, him raising pigs for his restaurant, and him setting up traps to catch us for some diabolical purpose. all in all, we envisioned some sort of crazy old man with a ridiculous story. probably something that would be found in this book:
the true story of negro bill is actually seemingly as awesome as we had hoped. upon our return to civilization and technology, we studied it out via the source of all information: wikipedia. this search was done by the amazing lydia stingray on her phone, so i guess we didn't really have to wait for civilization, since all of us on the trip had phones. the tale of negro bill is one of cattle ranching, prospecting, and palling around with his good canadian buddy "frenchie". he had to flee from his canyon after he was charged with bootlegging whiskey to the indians. here's the wiki article. so, it just goes to show you, history is just as cool as your imagination can make it. just like reading rainbow.

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