Along the banks of rivers, civilizations have always risen. And while our Jordan or Provo Rivers don’t conjure the heroic images of say the Nile, or the Colorado these channels of water have given us life, culture and opportunity, as rivers do around the world. The trade routes, the resources, and the beauty of rivers have given a sense of place to villages, towns, and cities from coast to coast, and sea to sea. Our small city, however divine, was built on the graces of water that gave the pioneers of the 1800’s possibility and farming. From the lumber mills of Millcreek, to the prolific trout fishing that once made Utah Lake famous, to the gigantic bathtub ring of Lake Bonneville that many of us live below, our histories as Utahn’s have been carved by water. These spring, glacial, and run-off fed waterways have made this desert of ours habitable.
The High Uintas and the “U” shaped canyons of the Cottonwoods were etched and carved by the slow methodical rip from the glaciers that have disappeared. Limestone cliffs, and red rock canyons have genealogy that incorporates water in one way or another. The old maps of the 1880’s show us water, the Jordan River to the West, the Weber River to the north, the Great Salt Lake, our namesake is water.
Recently, I began working for Western Rivers Flyfisher to learn more about fly-fishing. I had grown tired of many fishless sessions, and my longing to understand a river and her secrets finally won out in a job search. More than casting or “hatch-matching” though I have begun to learn that community grows around the love of water, not just near its physical banks. Because as the weeks have passed learning the flies, the brands, and how to ship back broken rods, I have begun to understand that a community was built here along this Western River.
Photo by: Kyle Toyama
Steve Schmidt, the owner of Western Rivers Flyfisher for
As a native Utahn my life has been vastly carved by water: the scarcity of it, the mystery, and the hope for more of it. I have learned of its importance from a young age, and now am awed by its beauty as I have grown older. The physical rivers and this cultural one have become important to me as the world turns more and more away from both nature and community. I spend almost everyday in a river of one genre or another, listening again to the stories that have collected on their banks. We need rivers for our soul, for our neighborhood, for all the unnameable things that live on the edges. Our riparian habitat gives us the life we love, and the wildness we need.
Thumbnail photo by: Kyle Toyama