Many mysteries surround the legacy of William Grandstaff, the Moab area’s first black settler and the namesake of one of its most popular hiking trails.
Little can be said for certain about his life; even his name has been a source of debate. Aside from arguments over his infamous nickname, people have disputed how to spell his last name. Some leave out the “d” and others include it, which has resulted in some inconsistencies in signage and information about the places that bear his name. Recently, vandals removed the letter from the Bureau of Land Management sign located at the Grandstaff Canyon trailhead.
The BLM quickly discovered the graffiti and has already fixed the alteration, but it may have caused some to wonder how the man’s name was actually spelled. According to Lisa Bryant, spokesperson for the Canyon Country district of the BLM, the agency conducted extensive research into the name’s spelling before they created their signs. Originally, they thought the name was spelled without a “d,” so the nearby camping area, which was designated before the canyon’s name was changed, was dubbed “Granstaff Campground.”
However, after the campground was named, more research was done into the matter. When the U.S. Board on Geographic Names decided to change the canyon’s name, the BLM reconsidered the naming of its trailhead and campground. Bryant’s official statement from the BLM reads, “The BLM consulted local and regional historians while researching information to include on the interpretive panel and signs. We chose the spelling that is used in written documentation, including two census ledgers, several newspaper articles and legal documents for the signs and interpretive panel.” During the fall of 2016, the trailhead was renamed and updated signs were put in place.
Since the renaming of the canyon, the BLM has had a problem with vandals. In an official statement, Bryant said, “The BLM encourages everyone to be good stewards and help take care of our public resources, so it’s disappointing when people choose to behave illegally and deface public property.”
ByBy Nathaniel Smith