A story written by Janice Bryson for the Arizona CattleLog, December 2013, about the Atkins Family tells ofa sheepman on the Arizona Strip. There were Atkins that had sheep on the Strip but I will relate their story later in future blogs. For now, we will just stick with this sheepman.
Joy illustrated the remoteness of the strip with the story of sheep man Wayne Gardner. He was a prominent St. George resident who grazed sheep on the Arizona strip. A fierce snowstorm hit the strip in January 1949, Gardner was worried about his sheep and his herder Ed Harrington. He left home early one morning and his family raised the alarm when he did not return. Due to the continuing storm, Maurice Miles and Rudger Atkin flew to the vicinity of the sheep camp and dropped a note to Harrington. Through signaled replies, they determined that Gardner had not arrived and Harrington needed help. No sign of Gardner could be located from the air. Two weeks after Gardner left home, a search party traveled three days through the snow to rescue Harrington and move the sheep to lower country. Gardner’s hat was located but no sign of the man. The Sheriff called off the search until the snow melted but was convinced to try again one more time. Searchers with hunting dogs traveled to the area and the body of Gardner was discovered 75 yards from the sheep camp. He had walked twelve miles from his pickup in snow up to his waist. His frozen body, covered with snow, was found leaning against a Cedar tree as he had apparently stopped to rest and froze to death.
A sad ending for just one of about twelve families that raised sheep on the Arizona Strip. Other sheepmen stories from Utah and Nevada will be posted soon.