Author and investigative journalist Jonathan Thompson will give a presentation at Star Hall on Friday, April 26, at 6 p.m. [Courtesy photo]

“There I Was: My Life With Rivers” is the title of a presentation by Roy Webb, author of five books on the history of river running in Utah and the West, being presented on April 25.

Webb is the author of a biography of Bus Hatch, founder of Hatch River Expeditions, and of “High, Wide, and Handsome: The Colorado River Journals of Norman D. Nevills.”

Webb’s most recent book is “Lost Canyons of the Green River: The Story Before Flaming Gorge Dam.”

Webb will talk about his work as a writer and running rivers, often as an interpretive guide for history river trips. As a retired multimedia archivist for special collections at the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library, Webb will share information from Utah river running archives. The presentation will take place at Star Hall, 159 E. Center St., starting at 6 p.m.

Meg Flynn, head of adult services at the Grand County Public Library, invited Webb to speak after he participated in a panel discussion at the film screening of “The Colorado” in 2018. His presentation is a part of the “Colorado River Science: Moab” series.

“We wanted to invite him back,” Flynn said. “He’s really versed in super-interesting history of river running on the Colorado Plateau.”

Webb also plans to preview a new book by Harold Leich called “Alone on the Colorado.” Webb wrote the forward.

“I obtained Mr. Leich’s original journal and photographs for the Utah River Running Archives, which included a book he had written about his experiences that was never published,” Webb wrote in an email to the Moab Sun News. “I worked with the University of Utah Press to bring it to print. It will be out the end of this month.”

Leich was a young man riding the rails during the Great Depression who decided he wanted to float the Colorado River from Grand Lake, Colorado, to the gulf of California, Webb said. Leich built a new wooden boat when he reached Grand Junction, Colorado, and then later stopped in Moab. To learn what happened next, attend the talk or read the book, Webb said.

Webb will also talk about his work as an archivist and the books that inspired the creation of the university’s Colorado River running archives.

“Webb’s presentation will be fascinating for people interested in river running in the area,” Flynn said. “It’s a happy coincidence that another river-related speaker is in town the following day.”

Jonathan Thompson, an award-winning investigative environmental journalist and the author of “River of Lost Souls,” will be speaking at Star Hall on Friday, April 26.

Thompson will talk about “the science, politics and greed behind the Gold King Mine disaster” — the subtitle of his book about the 2015 toxic spill that polluted the Animas River in southwestern Colorado.

“He understands how local communities are affected by the health of rivers,” said Lael Gilbert, an outreach coordinator for the Center for Colorado River Studies at the University of Utah in Logan, a sponsor of Thompson’s presentation.

The center supports science to better understand the Colorado River, including biology, ecology, evaporation rates and public policy, she said.  

“We make suggestions to policymakers,” Gilbert said. “Jonathan is a great speaker to introduce people to some policy issues.”

An important part of the center’s work is to connect stakeholders who value the river, and empower people to participate in discussions surrounding river policy, she said. “Colorado River Science: Moab” is presented by the center at least three times a year, Gilbert said. The next presentation will take place in July.

Stories of the rivers shared at Star Hall

When: Friday, April 26, at 6 p.m.

Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.

Cost: Free


When: Thursday, April 25, at 6 p.m.

Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.

Cost: Free


“Webb’s presentation will be fascinating for people interested in river running in the area. It’s a happy coincidence that another river related speaker (Jonathan Thompson) is in town the following day.”