He was the author who was a vocal pioneer in the environmental movement in the American West, an iconic figure whose books Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang still resonate with readers today.
On Monday, an overflow crowd of more than 60 people filled Maria's Bookshop for a celebration of Edward Abbey's life on the 20th anniversary of his death.
"It's kind of funny that there's an elected official kicking off an Edward Abbey event," Durango City Councilor Michael Rendon said. "He wrote about 'the insufferable arrogance of elected officials.'"
Rendon worked as a bookseller at Maria's for a while, and said that people don't work there because they make a lot of money, but because they admire the history of the bookstore.
"Edward Abbey would talk at Maria's and then go across the street to El Rancho to drink tequila," he said.
Peter Schertz, who owns Maria's with his wife, Andrea Avantaggio, said Abbey had visited more than once and signed books at Maria's when it was located five doors down. There is a shot of the writer in a Maria's T-shirt in a book called Postcards from Ed.
Ken Wright, who emceed the evening, paid homage to Abbey in his own book, The Monkey Wrench Dad.
"I'm here to celebrate his effect on my life," he said. "Abbey is linked to the land, life, work, a responsibility for your journey and encouraging you to make the journey yours and no one else's. He wrote not about what to do, but why to do."
San Miguel County Commissioner Art Goodtimes remembered hitchhiking one day and being picked up by an archaeologist.'"You gotta read three people," he said the driver told him concerning learning about the West, "Ed Abbey, Wallace Stegner and John Nichols."
Other speakers included M. John Fayhee, the editor-at-large for the Mountain Gazette, which published a number of articles by Abbey, author Kate Niles, and writer B. Frank.
"We're clearly moving toward a more natural world," Niles said. "Ed is still here."