Oddities, Marble Canyon, Arizona
The Cliff Dwellers
The story of Cliff Dwellers begins during the Great Depression, when Blanche Russell gave up a highly successful dancing career back East to tend to her husband, Bill, who was suffering from tuberculosis. The couple packed up and moved to the Southwest, crossing the recently completed Navajo Bridge across the Colorado River south of Lees Ferry about 1927.
The Russells only made it a few more miles, however, before their car broke down near the big rocks. Blanche got it in her head that it wouldn't be a half-bad place to live and the couple threw up a lean-to of tarpaper and boards against the largest rock. Then, she started serving food to passers-by in return for labor as the house got larger.
Pretty soon, the couple had a full-scale restaurant on their hands and added a hand gasoline pump for some of the earliest motorists to the Canyon's North Rim. They also catered to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in wagons who were taking the Mormons' nearby Honeymoon Trail to have their marriages sanctified at the temple in St. George, Utah.