Introduction Friend Faatz Grand Canyon Gold
Back in 2008 a woman named Jeanne contacted me and others on this website looking for information about her great grandfather, Friend Faatz. Friend was from Mayfield, Utah. He owned a small supply store there. Below is Jeanne’s original request and the rest of the story as told here:
“Hello Prospectors, I am the great granddaughter of Friend Faatz from Mayfield Utah. He owned a small supply store in Mayfield when he married my g.grandmother. He would disappear for weeks at a time and never tell anyone where he went or talk about it. He came home from one of these trips once and gave my g. grandmother a gold nugget. Then, after he had passed away a reporter came to a family member and asked if they knew who the man was that had carved his name in a stone wall near the Glen Canyon Dam near Page Arizona on the Colorado River. The carving is near an old gold dredge and can be seen through a clearing of willow trees that had been cut down. He showed the family member a photo. There was an article written and I am trying to locate it now. I was wondering if any of you prospectors are familiar with this area or maybe have seen this? Any help would be greatly appreciated. You will help solve a family mystery that has intrigued me for years. Thanks, Jeanne”
The Search Begins Friend Faatz Grand Canyon Gold
Being the helpful folks most prospectors are many of our website members joined in to help her prospect the web, looking for nuggets of information that may help her solve the mystery. One of the first nuggets was found by “Sawmill” and reads as follows: “The dredge was owned by Hoskaninni Company. It was hauled in in pieces from the rail road at Green River. They had to build a road too. The Dredge was a big time failure and never left the area where it started. The owner left it sit ,and it was a landmark for years. It sits in over
300 feet of water at the mouth of Stone Creek,66 miles above the dam. There was a few small dredges but they worked the San Juan river near Bluff. ” Sawmill has always been a resource for good, reliable information so having him in on this dig was pretty awesome.
Sawmill chimed in again noting: “Jeanne, this was a lot of fun for me. I live 50 air miles from where the dredge is. It is under Lake Powell, and it would be a rare thing for the water to Jeanne was thankful for the information, replying: “Dear Prospectors, What awesome people you all are. I couldn’t believe all the info. that was here when I returned this evening. I am so excited to get started on asking around to all of the sources you provided. I want to get as much information together as I can before I personally make the trip to see this area. I am going to contact my uncle again as well. I do remember the reporter said that a surveyor on the Colorado River first reported seeing the carving and then told the reporter about it. If it is the Hossk. dredge I am wondering if the river ever subsides or is it always that deep? Maybe that is a dumb question, not sure, but this would put a huge damper on actually finding the carving.. Our local gold country here in CA would be fortunate to have you guys digging around the area. You are tops in my book. Thanks so much, Jeanne” and soon she added “Sorry, I should have mentioned this. My g. grandfather lived from 1867 – 1948. Since the dam was finished in 1963 it wouldn’t have been there when he carved his name. Friend (my g. grandfather) married my g. grandmother on June 12, 1926 so his trips to the river would have been from roughly 1926 through probably 1940-ish. Does anyone know if the wild bunch, Butch Cassidy frequented this area?”
Sawmill chimed in again noting: “Jeanne, this was a lot of fun for me. I live 50 air miles from where the dredge is. It is under Lake Powell,and it would be a rare thing for the water to
recede enough to see much. The owner of the dredge company had the last name of Stanton. The dredge is also known as the Stanton dredge. I have found a few pictures and will continue to look for more. Most have copyrights or are in private collections, so I can’t post them. I would almost bet that your Grandfather got his nugget from the Henry Mountains, as they are right close to the dredge, area, and have nuggets. The timing fits perfect with the dredge,and yes the Wild Bunch spent a lot of time in that country.”
Jeanne soon replied: “Sorry I accidentally put the wrong marriage date on my g grandfather and g grandmother. It was August 28, 1898. He met my g. grandmother in her father’s store and they had to sneak around because he was not a Mormon and refused to join the church. I am sure his disappearances were because they were very poor and he was looking for a way to make money. He was sort of an outcast in Mayfield because basically if you were not Mormon you were not accepted. He never did join the church and was very bitter over the way he and his children were treated. Thank you “Sawmill” since your post I have read up on the Henry mountains as well as the area in and around there. This is too coincidental to not work with the Butch thing. I am going to try and find out who the man was from Ephraim that Butch Cassidy ran with. I have family there as well. Sawmill, you have been so great and I am hot on the trail to find out everything I can. I will be visiting this area and will have plenty info. thanks to all of you! I will make sure and keep you up to date on what I find! Oh yeh, is there a way to find out what surveyors may have been in the area? The surveyor was from Paige Az. and I am assuming it was in the early 1960’s because when they were shooting a line with their survey equipment they could see the carving in the rocks and I am wondering if this was right before the dam was built. Thanks everybody! Jeanne.”
After this round everyone took a break for a day and then Jeanne came back sharing: “THANK YOU TO ALL I HAVE FOUND IT!!Without all of you I wouldn’t have had any idea where to start. I located an archived Journal of Colorado Plateau River Guides. I am putting in a link in case you who have helped me would like to see it here: http://www.riverguides.org/Confluence/19/FaatzKnipmeyerOpt.pdf. Apparently he was the first to have boated the treacherous waters of Cataract Canyon also known as Capsize Rapid. He accomplished this in 1892 and marked the beginning of the trip by carving his name in a boulder and then marked the end of the trip by drilling his name in a boulder and dated it 1892. IT IS STILL THERE!! The last that someone wrote about it was in 1993 so it can’t be where Lake Powell is. There was an article with a picture written on December 31, 1956 by the Salt Lake Tribune. There is also a picture in the journal but it is very dark. Thanks again to all. Next step is actually boating down the Colorado and seeing the “F.G. Faatz” inscriptions in person. HAPPY HOLIDAYS ALL – YOU HAVE MADE MINE!! Jeanne.”
The story kept growing, Sawmill: “Jeanne Cararact Canyon is above Lake Powell. The Stanton Dredge is just inside the lake. During the 90’s Lake Powell was real low,so it is possible the main part of the dredge was visible. If you want to go down Cataract Canyon, there is several companies in Moab that does day trips, on rafts. Lee’s Ferry is mile 0 on the Colorado,so mile 10 going towards the dam would be 10 miles above Lee’s Ferry. There is the remains of a small dredge at Lees Ferry. Neither place is close to the dam. Mile 10 is quite a ways below the dam. I will double check,but I believe that you can almost drive to mile 10.”
My good friend Dennis also chimed in: “Don’t think you’ll drive to mile 10 below the dam as the dam is 15 river miles above Lees Ferry. You might hike to it, but I don’t think you can hike past 4 mile bar as we call it on the river. If I remember correct there is an old dredge at Lees Ferry, but it might just be an old barge. Anything between the ferry and the dam is fairly easily accessable from a good motor boat. I have a book that might be of help, but it’s in storage in Phx. at the moment. I had another idea you might check for reference….Az. Highways Magazine….Seems to me they ran an article some years back that had a picture of that dredge in upper Powell. Might be worth a look see what they have in their archives. Dennis.”
Sawmill noted: “Dennis, there is the remains of a large steam paddle boat at Lees Ferry. A guy named Spencer tried a large placer operation there. He had the boat built in San Francisco,broke down into pieces and hauled to Marysvale, Utah by train. They hauled it on wagons from there and assembled it at the ferry. He had a heck of a steam powered mining set up and they tried to haul coal from Warm Springs to the ferry. I have a picture of a small dredge working in the area too. Pieces of it was still there during the early 20’s. The Park Service razed most of the buildings later doing one of their cleanup things, so they may have removed the dredge parts too. The Stanton Dredge cost over $300,000 to build, plus building a road to the work site,and shipping it from the East coast by rail in pieces. It produced $66.00 in gold total. The Spencer project at Lees Ferry was bigger and cost more, and done just about as well. I agree that a good motor boat would be the best way to get to mile 10. There is lots of pictures of some real neat mining stuff on the river, but getting permission to view them is like pulling teeth.”
Soon Wyldcatt joined in: “Jeanne, This link may be of some assistance in your search for guides around Capsize, http://www.utah.com/…rs/cataract.htm hope it’s of some use. ~wyldkatt~”
Dennis followed with: “Ok guys, I found the inscription and sent pm to Jeanne. Not finding any actual text yet, but my Grand Canyon river map clearly marks “FAATZ inscription” at approx. river mile 10.5 upstream from Lees Ferry. This makes it still aaccessibleby boat. I know of no dredge right there in immediate area. Just a little quick history that I could find: Robert Stanton was a well known railroad engineer. Stanton like J.W. Powell, turned into a very knowledgeable river guide and explorer. He was trying to survey the Colorado for a railroad. The money never came but he was convinced a railroad was feasible in the canyon. He later prospected about and ended up concentrating his efforts on the history of exploration in the canyon. Charles Spencer was the entrepreneur that thought to run a steam powered river sluice in the area of Lees Ferry about 1910/12. He acquired financial backing and ordered a 92 ft. stern wheeler. It was ran backwards from Warm Creek to Lees Ferry to avoid sand bars. They discovered upon arrival they had not enough fuel to return. They later realized there wasn’t enough gold so that was the end of that. What is left is a couple boilers. One from the stern wheeler “The Charles H. Spencer” and 1 from the hydraulic sluice pump are still in the area of Lees Ferry and the current boat launch ramp……I’ve seen these many times, just never went over and checked them out up close before.
Well that’s about all I have to add to this interesting bit of history at this time. I couldn’t find anything out about the person or the inscription, but can say for sure it is there and still can be got to. The book I get my info from is: The Colorado River in Grand Canyon, By Larry Stevens…..It’s a river guide from Glen Canyon Dam to mile 283 at Lake Mead. A very well written book, but only has a few tidbits on the actual history. It does however list many references used for the info in this book. I’ll continue to look for more info. For anybody that knows the river up there, the inscription is about 1/2-3/4 a mile upstream from duck island and on the same side of the river channel as “The Duck” , as we affectionately call it, LOL. I would also like to suggest to Jeanne that you contact Terry Gunn at Lees Ferry Anglers in Marble Canyon. 1-800-962-9755 I’ve known Terry for years and he knows that section of river as well as anybody. I’m sure he can help you as he has lived there for many years. He can take you right to the inscription I am sure, and likely can help with local knowledge as well. He may also have a book on his shelf that will have even more info for you. I hope this info has helped, please keep us informed. Dennis.”
chkls99 soon noted: “I ran across this forum while doing research on the Charles H Spencer steamboat wreck at Lee’s Ferry. Anyway, I’m one of those float trip guides mentioned earlier. I have seen the inscription and I’m attempting to attach a photo of it. The carving is located near a large Native American petroglygh panel and I’m happy to say that your ancestor did his carving near but not on the petroglyphs.”
Many people following the thread soon joined in the enthusiasm and joy of seeing Faatz’s story come to life. Arkyrick “Way to go guys I think it is great the way you have helped this lady out Good on You!” Terry Soloman: “This has to be one of the most exciting and refreshing threads I have read in a long time – Interesting and informational stuff! Terry.”
And some more good news from Jeanne: “Thank you so much for the pictures. I can’t believe how great you guys have been. I have been in contact with Tag-a-long tours and am planning the trip in late July…Thanks, Jeanne.” And it seems that we have a happy ending. Its great when people come together and help one another. Its even better when a great story with gold or silver is involved. Hope you enjoy the photos from this story below. I published this again in hopes to inspire those who seek their treasure, be it gold, family or whatever. It’s out there and so are good folks to help you along the way.