The Great Western Artist Thomas Moran writes about Utah
eighteen years before it becomes a State.
MORAN, Thomas (1837-1926). Great American artist of the West. His works often featured the area of the Rocky Mountains. Many of his paintings of Colorado, Utah and The Grand Canyon are on view at the Smithsonian America Art Museum. His “Grand canyon of the Yellowstone” was purchased in 1872 for $10,000 by the United States Government. He is probably best known for his “Mountain of the Holy Cross.” His painting “The Three Tetons” (1895) hangs in The White House. During the 1860’s he was chief illustrator for Scribner’s Monthly. Rare and very lengthy four page autograph letter signed. Newark (New Jersey) Nov. 11, 1878. To Mr. Walker (editor of “Aldine” and other magazines). Moran writes in part: “..enclosed notes for article to accompany my drawings of Utah scenery you will find brief but hope you may work them into interesting shape. …lake is situated in the Uintah Mountains and from it flows Bear River which in many respects the most interesting river in Utah. The lake lies about 60 miles south of the line of the Union pacific RR. The river flows first in a Northerly direction for about 200 miles and makes an abrupt bend to the southward for a great distance and empties into the Great Salt Lake near Corinne. The scenery is picturesque in the extreme with a great abundance of timber such as spruce, pine, balsam fir etc. This is but one of many as beautiful lakes that are set like gems in the heart of this rugged range all of which are supplied by the melting snows of the mountains. Hundreds of streams have cut deep gorge like channels in the sides of these Mts and as they come out into the plains they expand into broad grassy fertile valley giving a powerful contrast with the other desolation of the country to the eastward. Something might be said of the glorious subjects for painters to be found in these mountains. Equally in many respects exceeding anything to be found in Europe and elsewhere. Directly south of Salt Lake City lies a chain of Valleys extending down to Arizona a distance of about 350 miles and ending at the Grand canon of the Colorado River. Vast ranges of mountains covered with perpetual snow bound these valleys on the east and West. Springville Canon, the subject of illustrations is in the Wasatch Range about two miles from Springville a Mormon town situated on the S.E. Border of Utah Lake which by the way is a large fresh water lake flowing into the Great Salt Lake. The canon is a deep and gloomy gorge cut into the Mountain side. The almost perpendicular strata has been worn into numberless needle like forms giving it a peculiarly horrible aspect. It is a grand and impressive sight to look down into the abyss from a point 1500 feet above the little stream at the bottom of the gorge and such a canon anywhere east of the Mississippi would be looked on with wonder and annually visited by thousands. Such gorges are numerous in the Grand Wasatch Range... One peculiarly of the Western Atmosphere should be particularly mentioned , that is the excessive clearness utterly deceives one as to distance, 30 or 40 miles appearing to the person who visit’s the west for the first time, as no more than 8 or 10 miles thus it is with heights and depths the novice being totally unable to approximate to correct measurements by the eye. It is a lovely climate though much of the country in these Mountain Valley is a desert from lack of water, nearly all the streams that flow from the Mts sink into the sandy earth within a few miles of their birth, owing to the dryness of the country all agriculture must be carried on by irrigation but magnificent crops are the result as the ground is exceedingly rich, the want of water alone making it a desert. The subject of the last picture is Colburris Butte in Kannaro Canon. Kannarro is a small Mormon Village in Southern Utah situated at the foot of lofty Mountain and near the terminus of the Ranges extending south from Salt Lake City. Kannarro Canon is a pass in the mountains some 5 or 8 miles south of the village and it is in this canon that you get the first hint of that glorious region to the south viz the Canons of the Colorado River of the West. Here you first see those wonderful masses of red sandstone that a little further south become overwhelming stupendous and stagger belief in their vastness and magnificent forms. The Butte in the illustrations is 2,000 feet high and of a brilliant vermillion hue. It is equally grand and beautiful in storm or sunshine. I am making a series of pictures for the Aldine of the country to the southward and this is why I speak of it in these notes are insufficient….Truly yours, T. Moran.” About 20 words throughout the letter crossed out by Moran. In near fine condition................$750.00