Though the name and the lore of Matrimony Spring have been changed, warped, and told again many times, the spring itself still provides water to locals and travelers alike… and may still work its magic on those who imbibe. 

In an article that appeared in the Moab Museum’s longtime publication Canyon Legacy, writer Kris Johnson wrote, “the legend of Matrimony Springs states that if one stops and drinks they will always return to the Moab area…. The story about the name ‘Matrimony’ has not been recorded on paper, but according to oral stories, it refers to the summer when many young pioneers were married in the newly settled Grand Valley.” 

Eddah Williams Shields collects water from the spring; the structure shown here once piped the water up to a concrete fountain. The fountain, which eased the filling of containers, was later removed due to sanitary concerns. [Moab Museum Collection, Roughly 1945, Eddah Shields Collection]

According to older versions of the story, however, a drink from Matrimony Springs (or River Spring, as it used to be called) would ensure a couple in love would remain faithful to one another, forever.

“Dances were held on the banks of the river,” wrote Johnson. “When young couples went to the spring for a refreshing drink, the spring would play another of its magical tricks. The couple soon found themselves wed – hence the name – Matrimony Springs!” 

The following poem was published in the Winter 1995 Literature of the Canyons issue of Canyon Legacy.

Spring with a Legend – E.R. (Russ) Carter

There’s a Spring that flows

Near the River’s Bridge

From Sand Stone rocks

Neath the rocky ridge

They say to drink from this

River Spring

That you will return to drink

Again and again

Well I drank from this Spring

A long time ago.

I never did go.

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