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 Albert “Bert” Loper

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Albert “Bert” Loper

Birth
Death
8 Jul 1949 (aged 79)
Marble Canyon, Coconino County, Arizona, USA
Burial
Sandy, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
Plot
Garden of Devotion 170-B-2
Memorial ID
118070733 View Source

In 1920, Loper acted as lead boatmen on the USGS survey mission to find a
suitable damsite in the Black Canyon, the future site of Hoover Dam. Notable
water czar William Mulholland also joined this expedition.

Loper died while running his self-built boat, The Grand Canyon, through 24½ Mile
Rapid in the Marble Gorge of the Grand Canyon at the age of 79.

A monument to his life and accomplishments on the Colorado remains at the site
where his rivercraft is decaying.

Norman Nevills, the famous Colorado guide when finding the wreck, noted its
shoddy construction.

A large monument to Bert Loper stands in what is considered his hometown of
Green River, Utah.

Bert is the protagonist of a great song written and performed by Tom Russell,
"Beneath Canyon Walls."

The Very Hard Way: Bert Loper and the Colorado River
Brad DimockThe Paris News
Paris, Lamar County, Texas
Fri. Aug. 29, 1952
Pg. 2

Man Who Battled Colorado Gorges Has Final Honor

By Clifton E. Wilson
AP Newsfeature
Salt Lake City

Deep in a cragged gorge of the Colorado River stands one of the most picturesque, and isolated, memorials ever erected to an American frontiersman.

The sturdy shaft on the steep river bank honors Bert Loper, the "Grand Old Man of the River," who three years ago--less than three weeks before his 80th birthday--perished in the turbulent waters over which he had been master for more than half a century.

But the memorial is more than a tribute to the dean of Western river runners. It is the realization of a dream, the dreams of Mrs. Rachel Loper, the woman Utah's legendary boatman left behind. Mrs. Loper's unusual dream was not an easy one to accomplish. After planning for nearly three years, she penetrated the river wilderness to construct with her own hands, the memorial out of native marble.

Her trip of faith ended near the upper Grand Canyon Rapids, not far from Phantom Ranch, Ariz., where on July 8, 1949, Loper's boat overturned, tumbling him into the white, foaming cataracts.

The old riverman, a semi hermit, poet and philosopher, had joined a group of veteran river-riders who planned a trip down the Grand Canyon just for the thrill of the ride. Loper jumped at the chance to make the 80th birthday trip he had proposed 10 years before. But soon after the journey began, a large wave capsized the boat. A companion held on, Loper never came up.

It was only the third time in 56 years of battling the Colorado and its tributaries that a Loper-manned boat had capsized.

A search party found the boat--its outboard motor still attached--and pulled it ashore. That's where it still stands. And at the prow of the battered craft is the Loper memorial. The site can only be reached by boat, down the same dangerous rapids which claimed Loper's life.

Mrs. Loper organized a party which rode down the churning route this summer to build the memorial. It was her second trip into the canyon since her husband's death. In 1951, the boatman's widow, who now lives in Salt Lake City, braved the rapids in an attempt to learn something more about Loper's disappearance.

She went back this year. Using marble from the canyon's walls, Mrs. Loper patiently constructed a four-foot shaft near the boat. It stands dwarfed by a part of the massive canyon walls which rise to dizzying heights above. And on the memorial, Mrs. Loper attached a bronze plaque which reads: "Bert Loper, Born July 31, 1869, lost July 8, 1949. The Grand Old Man of the Colorado River, I belong to the wondrous West and the West belongs to me."

Loper, as much as any man, did belong to the West. He had boated on the Colorado for 56 years and on his infrequent visits to nearby communities he would begin to miss the river and hurry back to his Red Canyon cabin.

Perhaps prophetically, Loper was born in Bowling Green, Mo., the same year that Maj. John Wesley Powell first conquered the Mighty Colorado. In 1885, Loper came west to work in Colorado's silver mines. Forced out when the mines closed during the 1893 panic, he began boating into isolated areas to prospect. "I've been at it ever since," he often said.

His travels took him thousands of miles on the Colorado, Green and San Juan Rivers in Utah, the Yampa in Colorado and the Salmon River in Idaho. From 1907 to 1915 he lived as a hermit in the lower Colorado River region.

Loper was head boatman on the Colorado for the U. S. Government from 1920 until 1922. But in 1923 he was left at home because he was "too old" to make the government survey trip. Sixteen years later, in 1939 when he was 70, Loper completed a boat trip alone down a 250-mile stretch of the Upper Colorado which he had never before traversed. With this feat accomplished, he claimed to be the only man to have covered the entire stream, from its headwaters in Colorado and Wyoming to the Gulf of California, 600 rapids and 1,100 miles.

Many times Mrs. Loper shared his vivid experiences. The year before his death, she was tossed into the Colorado when their boat capsized. Suffering a broken shoulder and bad bruises. Mrs. Loper lay within the Colorado Gorge, 40 miles from the nearest settlement. By a strange quirk of fate, two friends, on another boating expedition, came along. Mrs. Loper was taken by boat, car and truck nearly 200 miles to a Fruita, Colo., hospital.

But most of her memories of the wild, primitive country are less painful, even those of the violent Colorado which claimed her husband's life, "Here's where he wanted to be--I wouldn't have it otherwise," she says.

An immigrant girl from Scotland, Mrs. Loper married her riverman husband after, at 47, he had waged a four-month whirlwind courtship. She lived along the Colorado for more than 30 years and still thinks of its banks as home.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Note--According to reports, his remains were found 26 years later in 1975, just two months after his wife's death. He is buried next to his wife Rachel Jamison Loper in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In 1920, Loper acted as lead boatmen on the USGS survey mission to find a
suitable damsite in the Black Canyon, the future site of Hoover Dam. Notable
water czar William Mulholland also joined this expedition.

Loper died while running his self-built boat, The Grand Canyon, through 24½ Mile
Rapid in the Marble Gorge of the Grand Canyon at the age of 79.

A monument to his life and accomplishments on the Colorado remains at the site
where his rivercraft is decaying.

Norman Nevills, the famous Colorado guide when finding the wreck, noted its
shoddy construction.

A large monument to Bert Loper stands in what is considered his hometown of
Green River, Utah.

Bert is the protagonist of a great song written and performed by Tom Russell,
"Beneath Canyon Walls."

The Very Hard Way: Bert Loper and the Colorado River
Brad DimockThe Paris News
Paris, Lamar County, Texas
Fri. Aug. 29, 1952
Pg. 2

Man Who Battled Colorado Gorges Has Final Honor

By Clifton E. Wilson
AP Newsfeature
Salt Lake City

Deep in a cragged gorge of the Colorado River stands one of the most picturesque, and isolated, memorials ever erected to an American frontiersman.

The sturdy shaft on the steep river bank honors Bert Loper, the "Grand Old Man of the River," who three years ago--less than three weeks before his 80th birthday--perished in the turbulent waters over which he had been master for more than half a century.

But the memorial is more than a tribute to the dean of Western river runners. It is the realization of a dream, the dreams of Mrs. Rachel Loper, the woman Utah's legendary boatman left behind. Mrs. Loper's unusual dream was not an easy one to accomplish. After planning for nearly three years, she penetrated the river wilderness to construct with her own hands, the memorial out of native marble.

Her trip of faith ended near the upper Grand Canyon Rapids, not far from Phantom Ranch, Ariz., where on July 8, 1949, Loper's boat overturned, tumbling him into the white, foaming cataracts.

The old riverman, a semi hermit, poet and philosopher, had joined a group of veteran river-riders who planned a trip down the Grand Canyon just for the thrill of the ride. Loper jumped at the chance to make the 80th birthday trip he had proposed 10 years before. But soon after the journey began, a large wave capsized the boat. A companion held on, Loper never came up.

It was only the third time in 56 years of battling the Colorado and its tributaries that a Loper-manned boat had capsized.

A search party found the boat--its outboard motor still attached--and pulled it ashore. That's where it still stands. And at the prow of the battered craft is the Loper memorial. The site can only be reached by boat, down the same dangerous rapids which claimed Loper's life.

Mrs. Loper organized a party which rode down the churning route this summer to build the memorial. It was her second trip into the canyon since her husband's death. In 1951, the boatman's widow, who now lives in Salt Lake City, braved the rapids in an attempt to learn something more about Loper's disappearance.

She went back this year. Using marble from the canyon's walls, Mrs. Loper patiently constructed a four-foot shaft near the boat. It stands dwarfed by a part of the massive canyon walls which rise to dizzying heights above. And on the memorial, Mrs. Loper attached a bronze plaque which reads: "Bert Loper, Born July 31, 1869, lost July 8, 1949. The Grand Old Man of the Colorado River, I belong to the wondrous West and the West belongs to me."

Loper, as much as any man, did belong to the West. He had boated on the Colorado for 56 years and on his infrequent visits to nearby communities he would begin to miss the river and hurry back to his Red Canyon cabin.

Perhaps prophetically, Loper was born in Bowling Green, Mo., the same year that Maj. John Wesley Powell first conquered the Mighty Colorado. In 1885, Loper came west to work in Colorado's silver mines. Forced out when the mines closed during the 1893 panic, he began boating into isolated areas to prospect. "I've been at it ever since," he often said.

His travels took him thousands of miles on the Colorado, Green and San Juan Rivers in Utah, the Yampa in Colorado and the Salmon River in Idaho. From 1907 to 1915 he lived as a hermit in the lower Colorado River region.

Loper was head boatman on the Colorado for the U. S. Government from 1920 until 1922. But in 1923 he was left at home because he was "too old" to make the government survey trip. Sixteen years later, in 1939 when he was 70, Loper completed a boat trip alone down a 250-mile stretch of the Upper Colorado which he had never before traversed. With this feat accomplished, he claimed to be the only man to have covered the entire stream, from its headwaters in Colorado and Wyoming to the Gulf of California, 600 rapids and 1,100 miles.

Many times Mrs. Loper shared his vivid experiences. The year before his death, she was tossed into the Colorado when their boat capsized. Suffering a broken shoulder and bad bruises. Mrs. Loper lay within the Colorado Gorge, 40 miles from the nearest settlement. By a strange quirk of fate, two friends, on another boating expedition, came along. Mrs. Loper was taken by boat, car and truck nearly 200 miles to a Fruita, Colo., hospital.

But most of her memories of the wild, primitive country are less painful, even those of the violent Colorado which claimed her husband's life, "Here's where he wanted to be--I wouldn't have it otherwise," she says.

An immigrant girl from Scotland, Mrs. Loper married her riverman husband after, at 47, he had waged a four-month whirlwind courtship. She lived along the Colorado for more than 30 years and still thinks of its banks as home.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Note--According to reports, his remains were found 26 years later in 1975, just two months after his wife's death. He is buried next to his wife Rachel Jamison Loper in Salt Lake City, Utah.


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  • Created by: Karen
  • Added: 2 Oct 2013
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID: 118070733
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/118070733/albert-loper: accessed ), memorial page for Albert “Bert” Loper (31 Jul 1869–8 Jul 1949), Find a Grave Memorial ID 118070733, citing Larkin Sunset Gardens Cemetery, Sandy, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA; Maintained by Karen (contributor 47674922).