William Grandstaff settled in what is now Grand County in the 1870s, running cattle up an oasis-like side canyon of the Colorado River. That canyon later was named in his memory, but the black cowboy from the American South likely wouldn't have anticipated the hubbub that has dogged Negro Bill Canyon for decades.
This week, the debate entered another stage when the Bureau of Land Management installed new signage at recreation sites along the River Road corridor northeast of Moab. The signage reflects the BLM's new name for the trailhead used by hikers for a 2-mile trek up Negro Bill Canyon to Morning Glory Natural Bridge. The trailhead formerly known as Negro Bill is now called Grandstaff Trailhead, which features signage describing the life of this pioneer, who was half-American Indian.
"There has been an evolving perspective regarding the best way to honor the canyon's namesake [pioneer] and interpret his history for visitors. BLM has been part of this evolution," said Beth Ransell, acting district manager. "The new sign update along the river corridor [along State Route 128] provided an opportunity to continue this process with the renaming of the trailhead and adding an interpretive sign to honor William Grandstaff's connection to Moab and the canyon."