Scott Thybony Digs Into 80-Year-Old Canyon Country Mystery

Oct 18, 2016

Noted author Scott Thybony has traveled throughout the country on assignment for magazines such as Outside, Smithsonian, and National Geographic.

Author Scott Thybony
Credit KNAU-FM

Many of his explorations are centered in the vast rock mazes of southern Utah. It's in his back yard, after all. He lives in Flagstaff, and is a former river guide and archaeologist.

So Thybony was surprised to learn from an old newspaper clipping that in 1935, three people went missing on separate occasions in that country about which he though he was knowledgeable.

One of the missing, 21-year-old Dan Thrapp, was a paleontologist from the American Museum of Natural History who was last heard from looking for undiscovered cliff dwellings near Blanding.

The other, Lucy Garrett, was a thirteen-year old girl from Oklahoma who was somehow convinced, either by force or trickery, to flee first to Durango, then to the canyons around the San Juan River, with her father's murderer.

The third person missing that year was Everett Ruess, an erudite young man whose disappearance into the Escalante region of southern Utah has become well known, to the point that it's inspired books, documentaries, and even a beer called Vagabond.

Thybony set out to piece the disappearances together. His research led him from Utah to Texas to Tucson, and eventually to write a book, Disappearances (University of Utah Press, 2016).

Scott Thybony will be at the Fort Lewis College student Union Ballroom Wednesday October 19 to talk about the book and his conclusions about what happened to Thrapp, Garrett, and Ruess.

KSUT's Mark Duggan reached Thybony in Flagstaff earlier this week for a preview.