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The Sign Ranger Abbey Made at Arches National Monument, 1957 (from the Zephyr Archives)


On May 22, 1956, Arches National Monument superintendent Bates Wilson made the following observation in his monthly report to regional headquarters: “The increasing desire of fools to carve their names in public places has reached the highest level possible in Arches.”
Just a few weeks earlier rookie ranger Edward Abbey had “EOD’d” (entered on duty) as a seasonal ranger. He was stationed at a small trailer near Balanced Rock. Abbey’s intolerance of “fools” probably exceeded that of his boss.
Jump ahead more than 20 years. A rookie ranger myself, I had wandered off the trail near Balanced Rock, probably trying to avoid tourists and fools alike, when I found an old faded wooden sign. It was still attached to a steel pole and the routed letters were legible. It said:


I carried the old sign back to the patrol cruiser and later planted it in the soil in front of my home. One day, months later, Abbey came by. I found him staring at my sign.
“Where did you get this?” Ed asked. He looked puzzled.
“It was lying out in the black brush behind Balanced Rock,” I explained.
“Of course,” Ed chuckled. “I remember now…I made that sign. Didn’t do a damn bit of good”
Later, he came back while I was on patrol and left his “mark” on the sign he had made in 1957. Today it is one of my treasures.

—Jim Stiles


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  1. I would treasure it too! Lucky you 🙂

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