the San Juan River bottom was a chancy proposition, for the treacherous
river either flooded or went dry too often for dependable irrigation.
Early cattleman like the brothers Al
and Jim Scorup did better in the rough canyon country than did farmers.
After a decade of fighting the elements, many settlers discovered that
life was somewhat easier in the high country around the Abajo
Mountains, and the towns of Blanding and Monticello replaced Bluff
as the main focal points of San Juan County life.
Mining has been an inconsistent but exciting part of the economy of the county.
A gold rush on the San Juan River in the early 1890s was short-lived,
but miners in Glen Canyon of the Colorado River eked out a better living
from deposits along the river bars. Oil and gas exploration around the
turn of the century was productive, and one can still see wells operating
along the San Juan River. The uranium boom of the early 1950s, however,
brought large numbers of people into the area and saw the creation of
a few large fortunes.
At present, most
residents see tourism as their most promising economic resource, particularly
since the creation of Lake Powell in the early 1960s. Rainbow Bridge
is the most popular tourist attraction in the county, but the marinas
at Hite, Hall's Crossing, and Piute Farms draw large numbers of visitors,
and river trips through Cataract Canyon and on the San Juan River are