The John Wesley Powell River History Museum will induct a class of three influential river guides into the River Runners Hall of Fame during a benefit banquet to be held on September 30th. Jack Currey, Ron Smith, and Glade Ross had enormous impacts on the history of river running on the Colorado Plateau, and will be honored at the event.
August 21st, 2017 – The boats speak for themselves. Spend any time sitting by the put-in at Lee’s Ferry and you’ll see why. S-Rigs, J-Rigs, and self-bailing rubber rafts crowd the boat ramp, ready to launch down the very canyon that inspired their design. If you’re running a trip on the Colorado River, chances are you’re doing it in a boat that traces back to Ron Smith, Jack Currey, or Glade Ross. It only makes sense then, that the people who created these boats, the ones crazy enough to sew a bunch of rubber pontoons together, or to tear out the floor of a boat and replace it with plywood, should be recognized for their role in changing the history of river running forever.
On September 30th, the John Wesley Powell River History Museum will induct the 2017 class of river runners into the River Runners Hall of Fame during a benefit banquet in Green River, UT. Jack Currey, Ron Smith, and Glade Ross will join the likes of Georgie White Clark, Bert Loper, Norm Nevills, and Buzz Holmstrom as members of the River Runners Hall of Fame. The event is open to the public, and tickets to the induction ceremony are $15 in advance (or $20 the day of the event).
Jack Currey, founder of Western River Expeditions and one of the last river pioneers, will be represented by his family at the event. Currey laid an early claim to river fame after being the first to run the Rio Grijalva in El Sumidero Canyon Mexico. The expedition garnered wide national attention, produced a feature film, and landed Currey a cover on Time Magazine. His early investment in two trainloads of military surplus rubber also led to the creation of the J-Rig (J for “Jack”), a popular boat that is still heavily used on the Colorado river today.
Ron Smith became a household name in the river running community for his invention of the S-Rig (S for “Smith”), perhaps the most popular motor boat in the Grand Canyon to this day. Smith also started one of the most popular river outfitters on the plateau, Grand Canyon Expeditions, and worked to protect the natural resources that surround the Colorado River. He and his wife will be in attendance at the induction ceremony.
Long time river ranger with the National Park Service, Glade Ross is credited with building the first open floor, self bailing rubber boat on the plateau. For more than two decades, he was the river ranger at the remote Lodore ranger station, and worked diligently to identify valuable historic resources on the Green River as a member of the park service. Glade and his family will also be in attendance.
Plateau Restoration, a Moab based non-profit, and the museum have partnered again to pair the Hall of Fame benefit dinner with the annual Moab River Rendezvous. The Rendezvous kicks off on September 29th with a party at the Plateau Restoration offices in Moab, and continues over the course of the weekend with opportunities to float both the Green and Colorado Rivers. Plateau Restoration will host a float trip on the Green River from Swasey’s Beach to the Green River state park on September 30th prior to the induction ceremony. The trip will also include a walk through a restoration site on Curtis Island on the Green River. The next day, October 1st, attendees can float down the Colorado River with Plateau Restoration’s classic fleet and enjoy food drinks at Red Cliffs Lodge to end the day.
The 2017 inductees share a common storyline in that they each had an impact on boating design and pushed boating technology to new frontiers. In their own way, they were instrumental in creating some of the most important technological developments in rubber crafts on the plateau, and provided a unique impact on the culture of river running in the West. The museum invites you to join them as they induct three new members to an already historic group of individuals.