Landscape Photography
of James L. Snyder

The View from Duncan's Retreat
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The View from Duncan's Retreat
Linhof Master Technika 2000 camera, 150mm Schneider Symmar-S f/5.6 lens, polarizer, Fujicolor Pro 160S film, 98 megapixels
All Images ©Copyright 2010 James L. Snyder. All Rights Reserved

The View from Duncan's Retreat

UT 9, Duncan's Retreat, UT, 11/8/2006

I'm always intrigued by the areas leading up to our national parks, and if there is any hint or foreshadowing of the nearby natural wonders. In the case of Zion National Park there certainly is! Here is the view looking south from UT 9 in the ghost town of Duncan's Retreat, UT, just a few miles from the park. I spotted this beautiful golden Fremont cottonwood tree (Populus fremontii) the previous day and decided to photograph it in early morning sunlight. Fremont cottonwood is native to this colorful region and can be found along its rivers and washes. In autumn the tree's cordate leaves change from green to yellow and gold, adding even more color and splendor to the scenery. Just beyond the tree is a wash area around the Virgin River, and in the distance is a striking red butte - typical of the Navajo sandstone mesas, buttes, and bluffs comprising the Colorado Plateau in this part of the country. This unnamed butte is one of several formations leading to larger and more distant Gooseberry Mesa. Duncan's Retreat was inhabited for roughly thirty years beginning in 1861. In that year, Chapman Duncan, Alma Minnerly and a few others settled here on Mukuntuweep Creek, a small tributary of the Virgin River. The colony was part of a southern Utah cotton growing enterprise initiated by Brigham Young. After only a few months the Virgin River flooded severely, destroying much of the settlement along with some nearby towns. Most of the original settlers fled in early 1862, but more settlers soon took their place. By 1863 Duncan's Retreat had a population of 70. They planted orchards and annual crops, producing abundant harvests in the years the river didn't flood. A post office and schoolhouse were soon built here. But by 1891 the unpredictable yet recurring flooding had taken its toll and the town was abandoned. Dead fruit trees, an irrigation channel, some graves, and this lovely view are all that remain of Duncan's Retreat.

The View from Duncan's Retreat

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