Castle Valley Comments
Nov. 15, 2012
by Ron Drake
Nov 15, 2012 | 1242 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I was saddened to hear of the death of Bill Buchanan. He was one of my favorite people and it was a joy to be around him and listen to his recollections about the early days of Castle Valley. He died peacefully last week at the Canyonlands Care Center where he lived the last few months of his life.

I first became acquainted with Bill over 31 years ago when I was doing some research about the old Castle Valley School for this column. Although he was born on the Sinbad Ranch in Colorado (I think he said his mother couldn’t get to Grand Junction on time for the birth), he spent his childhood in Castle Valley, where his family lived in the old buildings that are still in use on the corner of Castle Valley Drive and Castle Creek Lane.

He talked about going to school in the one-room schoolhouse, which was located on the current Castle Rock Ranch across the creek. The 10- to 12-member student body was taught by a single teacher who lived on the Pace Ranch. He tamed one of the wild burros that roamed the valley and trained it to pull him in a sled to school and back home during the winter months. He said his grandfather, John Pace, the original owner of the Pace Ranch, probably had a lot to do with the construction of the schoolhouse but it closed prior to his fourth grade year and he had to attend school in Moab.

On another occasion when I called Bill for information, he related the events of the only murder in Castle Valley. He was sleeping on the front porch of the ranch house during a hot August night when he was awakened by several gun shots. A ranch hand shot a man as he approached the ranch on foot at about 8 p.m. The two apparently had quarreled earlier that day and the suspect told others later that he would kill him if he returned, which he did. The shooter took his own life later that evening in the bunkhouse and Bill said pieces of his skull were found imbedded in the walls years later. He said that event was a traumatic experience for a young 8-year-old boy in 1932.

If I ever had a question about the old Castle Valley, I could always ask Bill, who was always polite, humorous, and ready to share a story and some history about this area that we now call home. I will miss him and we all will lose another witness to Castle Valley’s rich history.


Those who travel to Moab on a regular basis can expect more of what has been happening during the last couple of weeks around the construction site at U.S. 191 and state Route 128, according to Ken Davis, project information coordinator for Flatiron Constructors. The work schedule for the week of Nov. 18 through 24 indicates that traffic will continue using the detour around the work area without excess interruption during the week. They ask those who travel the road to be aware of the construction personnel working the area.

The construction will continue directly south of Lions Park at the intersection and will be working on the soil nail wall near the future pedestrian tunnel, utility relocation and upgrades and the pedestrian tunnel construction. They appreciate your patience during the construction project. 


Castle Valley Librarian Faylene Roth announced the new winter hours at the local library, which will go into effect immediately. The library will be open Tuesday mornings from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and she hopes people will stop in on the way to town or the mailboxes. Jenny Haraden, who works at the library in Moab will also present a story hour for young children on Tuesdays beginning at 10:00 am. She currently lives in Moab but is building a home in the valley and will move here upon completion of the house.

The library will also be open on Fridays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Everyone is encouraged to take advantage of the library in Castle Valley.


Twenty five years ago this week, the Castle Valley Town Council re-evaluated the zoning variance of the Sistalita Bed and Breakfast (now the Castle Valley Inn). Mayor Margeurite Sweeney indicated the operation had been doing a good job and was an asset to the valley. The variance was approved.

Saxon Sharpe and Sam Welch were commissioned by the council to come up with a gun control ordinance and the council was considering control over the use of hot air balloons. Of particular concern was the fire hazard created by the balloons at take-off. A balloon was observed ascending from a field with dry grass and a similar situation was cited the previous July when several acres of dry grass was burned and a balloon was destroyed because of one taking off in a dry field.

The next meeting was to be held a week later because of a county commission meeting to discuss a planned hazardous waste incinerator in the Cisco area.

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