Andrea Stoughton told the story of educator Helen M. Knight at a past oral history session for the Museum of Moab. [Photo courtesy of Christy Williams Dunton]

Do you have a story to tell regarding agriculture in the Moab area? Did you know that the area was once known for its juicy melons and peaches? What have you learned about growing food in the desert?

The Museum of Moab would like to hear your personal stories, or those of your ancestors, for its next Root Cellar Project centered around “The Harvest” on Thursday, Sept. 20, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Stories shared around the theme will be preserved through the Root Cellar Project.

The storytelling event is being held at the Helipad at 239 W. Center St.

The monthly storytelling series happens every third Thursday. There’s always a theme — such as this month’s “harvest” topic. People are also welcome to attend the event as listeners, rather than storytellers.

The Root Cellar Project is the brainchild of Christy Williams Dunton, the museum’s development director. The stories are recorded and transcribed for inclusion in the museum’s Oral History Archives.

As a child, Dunton said she was always asking her grandparents to tell stories about the past.

“I thought it would be great to make a jar of memory jam for the ‘root cellar’ — for a collection of stories that could nourish and entertain,” Dunton said. “I began to imagine what questions future researchers might ask when looking back on this incredible era, and as I looked around at all the history just walking around in the lives of the people of our community, the Root Cellar Project just … took root.” 

Storytellers are encouraged to bring photographs and other objects that help tell their stories. The monthly theme is simply a “prompt” to help people recall their own histories, or stories.

But, there’s room at the event for stories that might not be connect to the theme of the month.

“If you feel a story coming on and need to say it — just come on,” Dunton said.

In August, the theme was the history, economy and culture of Moab’s mining days. Former uranium miner Bill Groff talked about his experience working underground as a uranium miner from 1969 to 1972, and then as an electrician for Atlas Minerals for another eight years.

“It was an enjoyable experience,” Groff said. “Christy is always fun to talk to.”

“If you have a story to tell it’s easy, very relaxed,” Groff said, who founded Rim Cyclery, and is current chair of the Grand County Airport Board. “I’d do it again. It’s a great deal.”

The Museum of Moab is currently closed as it undergoes renovation. Meanwhile, Dunton is gathering stories that will be preserved at the museum. She’s recorded approximately 20 stories so far.

She started the oral history program in March in honor of Women’s History Month.

“It’s an exciting time to be part of the museum because of the transformation that’s underway,” Dunton said.

Dunton said she’s enjoyed hearing about the “resourcefulness and grit” of Moab residents like Helen M. Knight — a story told by Andrea Stoughton — and Moab Community Theatre founder Jean Ellen Roberts — a story shared by TeriAnn Tibbetts.

With the passing of people like Roberts, Dunton said she feels a sense of “urgency” in preserving the stories of people who have “made Moab.”

“If people have elders around that can talk about something meaningful to them, we want it,” she said.

Oral history project preserve stories of harvest time

When: Thursday, Sept. 20, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Where: Helipad, 239 W Center St.

Cost: Free for museum members; $5 for non-members

Information: Call 435-259-7985 or visit

“If people have elders around that can talk about something meaningful to them, we want it.”