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Moab Happenings Home


The Name Game

Anyone remember the 1965 song that reached # 3 on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’, and sung by Shirley Ellis?

It’s always fun to explore the stories behind the names of places.
What about Professor Valley?
Back in 1879, Professor Richardson settled at the mouth of what is now called Professor Creek. He built a small cabin and later turned it into a store while
building his home in the valley. Supplies were always unloaded at the mouth of Professor Creek and it became a meeting place for all the area people and eventually turned into a good spot for a town. Professor Richardson applied for a post office permit and received it in July 1900. A store and a hotel soon were built, but the settlement never materialized. Today, all that remains are photos and the name for the valley.

Where’s the geyser at Geyser Pass?
At 10,528 feet, Geyser Pass crosses the La Sal mountain range, but no geyser can be found. The pass was named after Al Geyser who was a pioneer cattleman,
grazing his stock in the area in the 1880’s. There IS a geyser about 4.5 miles
downstream from Green River, Utah. The first written record of Crystal Geyser
comes from a report of the Powell Geographic Expedition of 1869. It is a rare example of a cold water carbon dioxide driven geyser, NOT geothermal! The ground water has quantities of dissolved carbon dioxide and gas accumulations. When enough pressure is created, the groundwater is forced on to the surface. The current form of the geyser was created by an oil exploration well, drilled in 1935. Over the years the area has been covered in a thick layer of orange travertine with colorful deposits cascading down into the Green River.

If you’re still trying to remember the tongue-twisting words, here they are:
Shirley Shirley bo birley
Bonana fanna fo firly
Fee fy mo mirley – SHIRLEY!

So stop on in, find out how Moab got its name and see what else is new. If you’ve not visited us yet, come and check out the Museum of Moab at 118 East Center Street! Be sure to mention you read about it in Moab Happenings.

See our website at for information on our exhibits, tours, and programming.

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