In Memoriam: Stan JonesHe's not a household name, but for the folks in Page, Stan Jones was to Lake Powell what John Muir was to the Sierra Nevada.
By Keridwen Cornelius
He was known as "Mister Lake Powell" and "The Sage of Page." Stan Jones devoted his life to Arizona's great lake, becoming its foremost cartographer and spokesman, and sharing his discoveries through photographs, articles and an iconic map. On September 3, 2007, after 40 years of exploring the lake, Stan Jones died of prostate cancer. He was 88. Raised in Winnetka, Illinois, on the shores of Lake Michigan, Jones spent an amphibious youth diving, lifeguarding and teaching aquatic survival in the Navy. His self-described "insatiable zest for adventure" drove him west, where he worked as a writer and an editor in Tucson and Salt Lake City. He also wrote for Walt Disney. In 1967, news of a new lake in Northern Arizona lured him away from his city job. That's how he ended up in Page with his wife, Alice, and their son, Steve.
It was there that he witnessed the birth of Lake Powell, watching it grow from a mud puddle to the nation's second-largest man-made reservoir. He once wrote: "For as long as three weeks at a time, I methodically probed the new lake's coves and canyons, squeezing through narrow clefts to explore the farthest reaches of gorges known down through time only to a few birds."
By popular demand, the self-taught mapmaker created Stan Jones' Boating and Explor- ing Map of Lake Powell Country, which he updated yearly. More than mere cartography, the map reads like a 20,000-word love letter to the lake. Hundreds of thousands of copies have been sold, and it's considered the bible for Lake Powell country.
In 1969, Jones co-founded and became the first director of the John Wesley Powell Mem- orial Museum, which showcases Powell's journeys down the Colorado River, the history of Page and the Indian cultures of the Colorado Plateau. In recognition of his contribution to preserving the state's natural heritage, he was inducted into the Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame in 2002.
Jones is described as a true gentleman with a down-to-earth sensibility. He wasn't a fan of the champagne-laden boats zooming across the lake, preferring the serenity of a slow cruise in his 14-foot skiff with a pen, camera and frothy beer at hand. Over the years, he boated in torrential rain and hiked in scorching heat, but, he wrote, "I relished every day and every night."
Jones' legacy will live on in the museum and through his map, which still guides thousands of fellow nature lovers to petroglyph-etched coves and hidden ruins. Although Jones turned over the map to his longtime friend Steve Ward, Ward says he'll always think of it as the Stan Jones map. "No one," Ward says, "will ever know Lake Powell as well as Stan did."