Glade Park & Piñon Mesa Book Review
by Eugene C. Vories
I finally got around to reading “Piñon Mesa” by Eugene Vories. Part of the delay was because I thought I could find it in local bookstores, but ended up buying it online. As many of you may know, Mr. Vories lived on Glade Park from 1962 to 1991. This is not the first book that he has based in this area. He knows the lay of the land (knows how to spell Piñon Mesa,) and uses it as the backdrop for his western fiction. In the Forward for “Piñon Mesa” he makes it clear that it “is a fictionalized version of opening the area to sheep, and how it may have come about. It is not intended to tell the real story of what happened.”
Mr. Vories does use some actual historical details as plot elements, but takes artistic license with them. For instance, he uses the swinging bridge that was built across the Colorado River, primarily to bring sheep in from the lower desert. The bridge cables were actually cut, almost causing a disaster for the Auberts, who were the first to discover it. It has always been assumed that a cattleman was responsible. The swinging bridge was never rebuilt, as it was in the plot of this novel. Another historical approximation is in the character of a black cowboy, obviously modeled after well known black cowboy Charlie Glass, who worked for the S+.
Usually, when reading a novel, we have to construct pictures in our own minds, based upon the author’s description of the character’s surroundings. When you are familiar with many of the places the author has set his action in, it all automatically pops into place. On a personal note, having grown up on a Glade Park ranch, I read one particular sequence of events with a feeling of déjà vu. We had a winter range on the Colorado River, and trailed our cattle down into Utah, along the “dugway,” and across Sand Flats, to the river, on pretty much the same trail as one segment of the plot action in “Piñon Mesa.” His description of that trail was accurate enough to make me nostalgic.
The fiction writer has the freedom to pick and choose from the facts, and elaborate on them to weave an interesting, and hopefully exciting tale. Mr. Vories has done so. As long as you read it as in that light it will be enjoyable.