Courtesy of Jack Turner
Courtesy of Jack Turner
“My grandfather traveled all over the world, through five continents,” Jack Turner said last week during a visit to The Durango Herald. The fifth generation Durangoan is rightly proud of his grandfather, naturalist Ansel F. Hall (1894-1962).
“He was the first chief naturalist and chief forester for the National Park Service,” Turner said. “Later, he became the concessioner for Mesa Verde National Park.”
And. in between, throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Hall made many trips – expeditions – taking lantern slides along the way.
Those historic images will be the focus of Turner’s presentation in a special program co-sponsored by Colorado Humanities and Fort Lewis College on Wednesday evening in the FLC Ballroom.
“People who have heard any of my presentations will see something new this time,” Turner said. “My grandfather and grandmother, June Hall, traveled everywhere. They were high school sweethearts and pictures of them alone make for a good story. But you’re also going to see the great pyramids of Egypt and other world famous sites.”
Turner’s book about one of Hall’s expeditions, Landscapes on Glass: Lantern Slides for the Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition, won first place for pictorial history in the 2011 Colorado Humanities’ Colorado Book Awards. The work also took first prize from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association.
Since the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument’s 1.7 million acres in southern Utah is part of the territory explored by Hall’s expedition, President Bill Clinton became aware of Hall’s contribution to early preservation efforts. Consequently, Clinton wrote the forward for Landscapes in Glass noting it is “a story for everyone.”
Turner, 57, said he was dumbfounded a few years ago when he discovered a family suitcase full of his grandfather’s lantern slides. That’s when the idea for one, if not more, book projects started.
Turner’s books, awards and public lectures prompted Durangoan Nancy Conrad to organize a local program co-sponsored by Denver-based Colorado Humanities and Fort Lewis College. She’s on the Board of Colorado Humanities and would like to see the state board forge a deeper connection with Durango and the Four Corners region.
“Colorado Humanities is the state arm of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress Center of the Book,” Conrad said. “It’s the nonprofit organization that implements and administers NEH and the Library’s larger programs in Colorado.”
Conrad has organized a number of small daytime roundtable discussions Wednesday that will lead up to Turner’s public presentation. She said the next step in the new collaboration will be a Smithsonian exhibition scheduled for the Animas Museum in January 2014.
Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.