Side by side comparison
General Description: The 1875 Jackson photograph was taken
just before large numbers of livestock were introduced into San Juan County.
The view is south over ancient Anasazi ruins at the confluence of Coal Bed Creek
and Montezuma Creek. Montezuma Creek enters the scene from the right.
The original photograph shows the ruins on a rocky outcrop that immediately
drops to a flood plain terrace that was probably farmed. The site is mixed
ownership between the State of Utah and Bureau of Land Management.
Legal Description: SE1/4NE1/4 Section 2 T.37S., R.24E.
COMPARISON: Vegetation on the 1875 floodplain is difficult to identify.
What appears to be willow plants are found in the lower left of the scene, while
willow and cottonwoods seem to inhabit banks of Montezuma Creek at the right.
Other floodplain vegetation is unknown but may consist of common reed, willow,
cattail or even wild rye. What may be corn stalks appear in the open space
located at the right center of the original image. A corn field image with
similar growth characteristics is found on page 26 of The Museum of Northern
Arizona's Spring 1995 Canon Journal issue. Jackson observed that Montezuma
Wash was dry when he made the photograph. He also drew particular
attention to the "series of large stones set upon end and projecting 5-7 feet
above the surface."
The 1998 retake clearly shows that the 1975 floodplain has
been mostly lost to downcutting and entrenchment of both Coal Bed and Montezuma
Creeks. The available record does not allow specific dating of the
downcutting. However, research conducted on other sites in southern Utah
and northern Arizona (Gregory 1950 and Webb et al. 1991) indicates that major
stream degradations occurred in this region beginning in the 1870's and 1880's.
The retake clearly shows that both channels now support several age classes of
Fremont cottonwood and willow. Both channels also support good populations
of Gooding willow, yellow willow, coyote willow, cattail, rush species and
bulrush. A few tamarisk plants can also be found but they are not a major
component of the vegetation community. Both channels are in properly
functioning condition as they are aggrading and riparian habitats are expanding.
vegetation conditions in the foreground appear to have changed little since
1875. Greasewood, shadscale, snakeweed and sagebrush are still present.
Cheatgrass and the two juniper trees at the left are new.
Date: 1875 (- A)
Source: U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, Colorado
Jackson No. 534
Date: July 22, 1998
Photographer: Earl Hindley
Source: San Juan County
Angel Arch, Canyonlands National Park,
San Juan County, Utah
San Juan County Sheriff