DAYS 25-28 ......................................................................................................................................................... FROM LEES FERRY TO NEARLY TO CEDAR RIDGE

Friday, August 5, 2016

Gunsmoke - Johnson (Shumway Ranch) - (Day 18)

September 19, 1884 - Sink Valley to Johnson 

Day 18 of 44 - Week 3
Sink Valley to Johnson =  26 Miles:* Total Miles = 356
*Miles not reported in journal: Used google maps = 26 miles
Total Trip Average Miles Per Day = 19.8: Average Miles Per Day - Week 3 = 17.5 

September 19 - 20, 1884
Original Journal Entry
"Friday Sep 19th - Hitched up late drove through some very heavy sand - was unacquainted with the road - found no water - drove all day without feed or water - Buggy team run away - Camped at Johnson or Shumwey's Ranch paid 25 cents per span good pasture."

 Final Journal Entry
"Friday Sep. 19, drove through heavy sand all day without feed or water - unacquainted with the road - buggy team nearly ran away.  Camped at Shumway's ranch at Johnson, paid 25c per span pasture."

On this day Charles probably didn't feel "lucky" as Heber J. Grant said the day before.  Everything that could go wrong went wrong. 
  • They hitched up late.
  • Drove through some very heavy sand.
  • Were unacquainted with the road. 
  • Found no water. 
  • Drove all day without feed or water.
  • The buggy team nearly ran away. (and they probably)    
  • Arrived at their destination later in the evening.  
At least they had good pasture when they finally got to Johnson.  I believe the were still totally committed to fullfill their mission in Arizona. 

Today this trip is one of the most enjoyable parts of the journey.  Let's get started. About 7 miles after Sink Valley you will see this sign. 

Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument
About half a mile down the road is another sign.  It is difficult to read but says Deer Springs Ranch.  You won't be going there, but make sure you turn left instead of right near that sign where the roads crosses or you will end up on Highway 89 in Glendale.  I know from experience.

Sign says: Deer Spring Ranch 19 Miles

At the next cross roads a few miles down, the dirt road ends and you continue straight ahead on a paved road into Johnson Canyon.  Do not turn left on the dirt road called Skutumpah road.  You are about half way to Johnson, and will enjoy a delightful scenic drive.

You will quickly see why Hollywood used this beautiful canyon as a backdrop for several movies.  The Anderson family had no idea they were in a Hollywood setting when they passed through in 1884 trying to find their way to Johnson.

Johnson Canyon - Set your odometer and look for these sites

About 3 1/2 miles after you  enter the pavement road is Swapp Canyon. 
Swapp Canyon
Shortly after is Escalante Grand Staircase and the canyon to Montezuma's cave 
Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument
The largest National Monument in America
7 1/2  miles down the road is the "Pioneer Billboard" and  "Indian Writings"

Ten miles from the payment brings you to the Gunsmoke movie set for several 'Westerns', including some episodes of the popular "Gunsmoke" TV series.  Many movies were made in Kanab
 and the surrounding area. Click HERE to check out how many you have seen.

"Gunsmoke."  Click for a quick look back, or just turn on for music
in the background as you continue down the canyon.

The movie set (click) isn't the town where the Andersons were going.  Johnson is about 12 miles down the road or about 2 miles from the movie set.  All that is left of the town is the graveyard containing 20-25 headstones.  It is fenced off and is located on an LDS Church farm.  Joel Hills Johnson founded the town and is buried in the cemetery.  The family/caretaker might grant access. The cemetery is not visible from the road but is accessible through a field behind the farmhouse.

front of memorial
back of memorial

When the Andersons arrived at Shumway ranch at Johnson they would have seen this
farmhouse owned by William Derby Johnson.  Johnson was settled in the spring of 1871 by William and his three brothers.  This farmhouse had four rooms above and five below, with a big porch and a store.  Joseph Fish said: "William D. Johnson kept a very good stock of merchandise for the travel considering what a small place it was, and this being the last place on the road where anything could be obtained he did a good business during the fall and early winter when the emigrants were moving to Arizona.  Perhaps the Anderson family purchased some items from him.  They paid 25c per span for pasture - a very reasonable price.

This Adventure Map (click)  (and be patient) goes  up the canyon from south to north. We started from the bottom going from  north to south. Johnson Cemetery is not on the map.

Route A is how the Anderson Family traveled in 1884, and the route followed by this 
blog.  Route B can also be taken to enjoy more of the sights available today.  Then you
can go up the canyon from south to north.

Route A

Route B below (blue part) will be included in a future post.  The road is paved and there are many sights to see along the way.  You also avoid the dirt road between Alton and Johnson.   You can visit Johnson Canyon at the end of this route by using the adventure map from top to bottom so it is easier to follow the mileage.

Route B

The next posting will begin the "Honeymoon Trail" part of the journey at Navajo Well.  This location eluded me for many years.  Finally a local rancher took me to the exact spot.  It is not an easy place to find.  Navajo Well was the first of many watering places  they would stop.  In addition to well these locations are  identified with the last name of spring, pool, or creek.

It was all about finding water back then
I could not thank this local rancher enough
for showing me Navajo Well

We are now following the "Honeymoon Trail



  1. I love the comparisons between the 1880s journey and the modern journey.

  2. Thank You. It is interesting to see how things have changed but also remained the same.

  3. I also love the way you compared the 1880s journey to the modern journey. The photos are fantastic!

  4. I also love the way you compared the 1880s journey to the modern journey. The photos are fantastic!