Friday, May 12, 2017

Josephine Bassett Morris

Within the Dinosaur National Monument is the homestead of Josie Bassett.  She lived there alone from 1913 until her death in 1964.  She raised and butchered cattle, pigs and chickens and canned the produce she grew in the gardens.  She did these things without electricity or running water.  Heat was provided by burning wood.  She also had a still and made brandy and whiskey.

She was quite the person.  By age 40 she had been married five times.  The first four marriages ended in divorce, the last one died.  There were persistent rumors that she killed him, but no charges were filed.  She was also accused of rustling cattle, but those charges were not proven, either.

There is an interesting wiki about her life and her relationships with Butch Cassidy and other outlaws.


The interior was better when she lived there.  She had quilts on the beds, art on the walls.  Friends would visit her from Vernal.


The homestead was made possible by a spring on the property.  Water usage laws said that if surface water from the spring made it to a larger creek, then whoever had water rights to the creek owned the spring water as well.  The key phrase there is surface water.



Josie made sure no surface water reached Cub Creek.  There were wet lands, ponds, and diversions on the property to allow the water to sink in to the ground.  She was able to use the spring by keeping the water on site.


This is a fence at the mouth of a box canyon.  Livestock was herded in to the canyon, and then fenced in.  Eventually she would go up and get them.


The canyon.


At the age of 89, she was feeding her horse who nudged her.  She slipped on a piece of ice and broke a hip.  Alone, she dragged herself back to the cabin.  Several days later, friends found her and took her to the hospital.  She died, never returning to her home again.  It makes me sad, thinking about her laying there.  There was no phone available to call for help.

The scenery in the monument is outstanding.


This is Turtle Rock.


Look at the zig zags of color in the rocks.  The geology is just amazing.


Elephant Toes Butte.


If you go to Dinosaur, go to the homestead.  We really enjoyed seeing where Josie had lived. 


  1. We loved seeing Josie's homestead also. When we went (on our mountain bikes from the campground!) we were the only people there. As we were leaving, a park ranger pulled up, and we chatted with him for a few. We left our bikes near the trailhead and hiked to the end of Box Canyon. Very beautiful. So glad you got to see it!

  2. That is a really beautiful little corner of Utah Josie had! It is interesting to imagine her living there all alone, though it does sound like she was fairly social. What a tough woman!

  3. Isn't Dinosaur NM a great place? And not many people around when we were there. I always admire women like Josie!