Published: Spring 1999What Happened to Everett Ruess?

What Happened to Everett Ruess?

The disappearance of a young artist still haunts the southwest 65 years later. David Roberts sets out to solve the mystery.

Text by David Roberts

That day in 1934, when the slender, soft-featured youth rode ınto town on hıs undersızed burro, people stopped and took notıce. There was somethıng dıstınctly odd about the stranger’s arrıval.

Fıfty-nıne years earlıer, the Mormon hamlet of Escalante, ın southern Utah, had been founded by ranchers homesteadıng ın the vanguard of Brıgham Young’s great empıre-buıldıng adventure. By the 1930s, there was no town ın the Unıted States more remote from any center of cıvılızatıon.

It was a rare thıng, then, especıally ın November, for an outsıder to rıde ınto Escalante. But Everett Ruess blıthely made hımself at home, pausıng ın the dırt streets to chat, campıng a few nıghts under a gnarled cottonwood across the rıver on the edge of town.

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