Names are an interesting thing and the source of the name of Bryce Canyon National Park is very intriguing. We’ve highlighted this story before but it’s one worth telling again.
Sometime in the late 1870s or early 1880s, Ebenezer Bryce moved into the Paria Valley, just east of the present-day national park. One day while searching for his cattle Ebenezer, a pioneer rancher, stumbled onto the main amphitheater of Bryce Canyon. You’d think that he would have something dramatic to say about what he saw on this occasion, but his only comment on record was “It’s one hell of a place to lose a cow.” People were more practical about life in the days of Ebenezer Bryce and scenery was likely far less important than scratching out a living in an arid and higher elevation climate. Soon the word must have spread about the canyon adjacent to the Paria Valley, and locals began calling the place Bryce’s Canyon.
Ebenezer Bryce was a shipbuilder by trade and prior to moving to the Paria Valley, he had already gained some notoriety for building a church north of St. George, Utah. Not knowing how to build anything but the hull of a ship, it is said that built an upside-down hull for the framework of the church in the community of Pine Valley. The church still stands today and is used regularly for services and other activities.
Bryce and his wife Mary Ann left the Paria Valley and settled in Arizona where he lived until his death in 1913 at the ripe age of 83.