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Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Monday, April 27, 2009

Everett Ruess Mystery Solved By DNA?

National Geographic may have found the grave of Everett Ruess, the 20-year-old "Vagabond for Beauty" who disappeared in the southern Utah red rock country in 1934.

Ruess left vivid prose about his wanderings and has become somewhat of a folk hero. The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the new developments. Below are excerpts.

He was a 20-year-old California native whose love for Utah's redrock country, longing for solitude and vivid prose fueled the imaginations of environmentalists, artists and writers from Wallace Stegner to Jon Krakauer.

The latest issue of National Geographic Adventure magazine makes a case that a small burial site discovered last summer near Comb Ridge, a canyon area in southeast Utah, contained the remains of the legendary wanderer and vagabond.

The April/May article in Adventure by David Roberts recounts how Denny Bellson, a Najavo from Shiprock, N.M., embarked on a search for Ruess' remains after his sister said their grandfather, Aneth Nez, told her about the murder of a young white man by three Ute Indians he witnessed from afar while walking the area in the 1930s. Nez told his granddaughter, Daisy Johnson, of how he then buried the young man after his attackers left him for dead and took his two burros.

Speaking from Portland, Brian Ruess said he hopes his late uncle's message of the wilderness' spiritual dimensions remain intact, even if the mystery of his final resting place has been solved.

"It [the burial find] does create almost as many questions as it seemingly answers," he said. "Now that the mystery is removed, I hope we don't lose sight of the man."

The community of Escalante holds an annual Escalante Canyons Art Festival/Everett Ruess Days event, set for September 25-26, 2009.

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