The John Wesley Powell River History Museum in Green River will induct a class of three influential river runners into the River Runners Hall of Fame during a benefit banquet to be held Sept. 29. Gaylord Staveley, George Wendt and Kenny Ross will be inducted.
“The history of river culture on the Colorado Plateau is shaped as much by the passion of the individuals who called themselves river runners as it is water rolling through deep canyon walls,” said a statement from the museum.
Wendt, the founder of O.A.R.S and a conservation icon, built one of the largest companies in the river running industry. In an era when motor trips were the norm, Wendt established O.A.R.S. as the first Grand Canyon outfitter to exclusively run oar-powered trips in 1969. For more than four decades, Wendt leveraged his company’s success to support conservation and education efforts in places of wilderness, donating over $5 million in his lifetime to non-profit organizations which support river conservation. Wendt will be represented by his two sons, Clavey and Tyler, along with other family and friends at the induction ceremony.
Staveley is a living link to past river legends and stands among some of the most accomplished boaters on the Colorado Plateau, according to the museum. In 1957, he became the owner of Mexican Hat Expeditions, the same company started by famed river runner Norman Nevills. The company, now called Canyoneers Inc., remains the oldest river running outfitter in the Grand Canyon. “For more than 50 years, Staveley has been a steady hand in the industry. He’s authored three books on the history of river running in the region, he served as the president for the Colorado River Outfitters Association for more than a decade, and he has worked diligently to preserve the history of boating on the Colorado Plateau,” according to museum officials. Staveley will be inducted by river historian, Roy Webb, and will attend the induction ceremony.
“Ross has been described as a forgotten figure on the Colorado Plateau, but his influence on river running in the Southwest should not be overlooked,” said the statement. Ross worked as a boatman on the Rainbow Bridge expedition in 1933, he worked as a naturalist at Mesa Verde for many years, and fell in love with the Four Corners region. “In those early days before commercialization, river runners focused on the geology, history, and the science of the canyons, and Ross found himself deeply connected to the landscape. Even after he created his business, Wild Rivers Expeditions, Ross maintained a closeness and respect for the land. He emphasized education and customer experience over numbers and profit.” Ross will be inducted by Gene Stevenson and represented by family and friends.
Tickets to the event are $20 per person, which includes dinner, access to a silent auction, and the induction ceremony. Tickets will likely sell out, organizers say. The event will begin at 5 p.m. at the museum, 1765 E. Main Street, Green River. For more details visit johnwesleypowell.com