In 1934 This Explorer Set Out Solo Into The Utah Desert – But His Fate Remains Shrouded In Mystery

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Image: via Newsletter
Image: via The University of Utah

It was November 1934 when 20-year-old Everett Ruess arrived in the remote Utah township of Escalante with his two burros. The settlement had been founded by Mormons in 1876 and it was a place where the arrival of a stranger was a rare event. Everett appeared relaxed and exchanged small talk with the townsfolk.

Image: Brian W. Schaller
Image: Brian W. Schaller

Ruess pitched camp under some old cottonwood trees across the Escalante River which ran just to the north of the town. The youngsters of the town were happy to make the most of a friendly stranger in their midst, and Ruess took them riding. On his last night there, he even treated two of them to a movie in the town’s theater.

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Image: Greg Willis
Image: Greg Willis

So who was this strange young man who had apparently arrived in the town from nowhere? Everett Ruess was born in March 1914 in Oakland, California, to Christopher and Stella. He was their second child and a younger brother to Waldo, who was born in 1909. Stella was an artist and poet, while Christopher worked as a probation officer.

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