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Woman Of The River

Georgie White Clark, Whitewater Pioneer

Richard Westwood

Publication Year: 2013

Georgie White Clark-adventurer, raconteur, eccentric--first came to know the canyons of the Colorado River by swimming portions of them with a single companion. She subsequently hiked and rafted portions of the canyons, increasingly sharing her love of the Colorado River with friends and acquaintances. At first establishing a part-time guide service as a way to support her own river trips, she went on to become perhaps the canyons' best-known river guide, introducing their rapids to many others-on the river, via her large-capacity rubber rafts, and across the nation, via magazine articles and movies. Georgie Clark saw the river and her sport change with the building of Glen Canyon Dam, enormous increases in the popularity of river running, and increased National Park Service regulation of rafting and river guides. Adjusting, though not always easily, to the changes, she helped transform an elite adventure sport into a major tourist activity.

Published by: Utah State University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. 6-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

The first time I met Georgie was in 1986 on my first Grand Canyon trip. I had heard of her, of course, having been a student of river history for...

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pp. xiii-xvi

I have had the generous help and cooperation of many people in getting this book...

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1. Swimming Rapids in Grand Canyon, 1944–1945

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pp. 1-16

Georgie White and Harry Aleson stared at the raging, silt-laden Colorado River. The awesome beauty of Grand Canyon would be lost on the...

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2. Rafting the Rapids, 1946–1947

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pp. 17-30

For the first few months after her swim with Harry Aleson in 1945, no one could have talked Georgie into swimming that river again...

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3. From Passenger to Boatman, 1948–1952

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pp. 31-44

ln February 1948 Georgie wrote to Harry: "I am open to any and almost all trips. That is what I live for and one summer to the next...

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4. Taking Passengers through Grand Canyon, 1953

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pp. 45-52

In the winter of 1952-1953, Harry Aleson organized a hiking trip that would attempt to follow the old wagon road made by rugged Mormon pioneers...

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5. The ‘Triple Rig Is Born, 1954

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pp. 53-60

By now Georgie's passion for Grand Canyon and running the rapids of the Colorado River was in full flower. Not only was there the excitement of running...

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6. Branching Out to New Rivers, 1955

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pp. 61-76

In 1955 Eisenhower was in the White House, Stalin was dead, and the Korean conflict was over. But things were hectic as ever for Georgie. Her schedule...

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7. Controversies, 1956

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pp. 77-86

Beginning in 1956 Georgie left her fall and winter months open for film lectures covering her more spectacular adventures. The following is an information...

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8. Glen Canyon Dam and a Clash of Personalities, 1957–1958

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pp. 87-98

In April 1956 President Dwight David Eisenhower signed a bill that would forever alter the character of the Colorado River between Cataract...

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9. Exploring Mexican Rivers, 1958–1959

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pp. 99-110

Always loolcing for new rivers to explore, Georgie had for some (7t time been considering a trip in Mexico. The first such expedition was finally set for the fall...

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10. Dead Man in Cataract and Other New Experiences, 1960–1961

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pp. 111-122

On May 22, 1960, Albert Q. Quist of Salt Lake City was leading a two-boat twelve-memeber party...

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11. Runaway Rafts, 1962

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pp. 123-128

At the end of a Glen Canyon trip in May of 1962, Georgie made a difficult landing on a silt and mud bar at Kane Creek. They arrived one...

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12. Exploring Canadian Rivers, 1963

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pp. 129-136

Early in June 1963 Georgie made a trip through Cataract Canyon. There were thirty-seven passengers in all, plus Georgie and her dog, Samba, who...

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13. More of Mexico, 1963–1964

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pp. 137-148

In August 1963 Georgie's wanderlust took her on another trip to the Rio Balsas...

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14. High Jinks, 1965

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pp. 149-160

The Grand Canyon was Georgie's special place, and she began to spend more and more of her trip time there. In 1965 her schedule called for...

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15. Disaster on a Mexican River, 1966–1967

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pp. 161-178

In 1966 the Bureau of Reclamation had a bill introduced in Congress that would allow it to construct two hydroelectric dams in the Grand...

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16. Divorce, 1968–1971

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pp. 179-188

ln 1968 Georgie and Orville returned to Mexico and tried the Rio Grande de Santiago again. They found part of one of the boats from the...

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17. Changing Faces and Changing Rules, 1972–1975

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pp. 189-198

By 1972 a multi-million dollar commercial industry had been built up to accommodate tourists who wished to boat on the wild rivers of the nation...

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18. Georgje’s Effect on Passengers, 1976–1979

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pp. 199-208

Park Ranger Tom Workman first met Georgie in May of 1976 when she was sixty-five years old. Her light brown hair was stiff and tangled from...

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19. Georgie Breaks an Arm, 1980–1982

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pp. 209-216

In 1980 Tom Vail was a passenger on one of Georgie's small triple rigs. The raft required three boatmen, but when they launched from...

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20. The Year of the Big Water, 1983

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pp. 217-226

Lake Powell began to form behind Glen Canyon Dam on March 13, 1963. The lake reached "full pool" at the 3,700-foot spillway level on June 22...

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21. Tragedy at Lava Falls, 1984–1987

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pp. 227-238

By 1984 Georgie, now at age seventy-three, had made some concessions to age. She seldom led hikes in the side canyons but remained with her boats...

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22. Another Tragedy, 1988–1989

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pp. 239-246

In 1988 Karen Smith went on her first Royal River Rats trip, although not on Georgie's boat. She was one of fourteen passengers on an S-rig on...

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23. Birthday Party, 1990

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pp. 247-260

Georgie's loves, the things that kept her coming back to the Canyon, were the rapids, the river, and the river community. Carol "Fritz" Fritzsinger...

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24. Final Run, 1991

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pp. 261-268

By the 1990s it is estimated that two and a half million people annually are boating on the wild rivers of America with commercial outfitters, spending...

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25. Memorials to a Legend, 1992

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pp. 269-278

Georgie sold her business to Bill George, owner of Western River Expeditions in Salt Lake City, Utah. Lee McCurry said, "She thought the world...

Appendix: Georgie’s Boatmen and Helpers

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pp. 279-281


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pp. 282-294

Related Works

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pp. 295-296


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pp. 297-304

E-ISBN-13: 9780874213683
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874212341

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2013