All My Rivers Are Gone

A Journey of Discovery Through Glen Canyon

by Katie Lee


David Brower, who has always regretted the Sierra Club’s failure to save the Glen Canyon, called it The Place No One Knew. But Katie Lee was among a handful of people who knew the 170 miles of Glen Canyon very well. She’d made sixteen trips down the river, even named some of the side canyons. Glen Canyon and the river that ran through it had changed her life. Her descriptions of a magnificent desert oasis and its rich archaeological ruins are a paean to paradise lost. In 1963, the US Government’s Bureau of Reclamation (the “Wreck-the-Nation Bureau”, Katie calls it) shut off the flow of the Colorado River at Glen Canyon Dam, beginning the process of flooding this natural treasure. Three generations have been born since the dam was built, and in a few more decades there may be no one alive who will have known the place. Katie Lee didn’t forget Glen Canyon, and she didn’t want anyone else to forget it either. She tells us what there was to love about Glen Canyon and why we should miss it.


In 1963, the Colorado River was dammed at Glen Canyon, creating Lake Powell while flooding a great natural wonder. Like thousands of environmentalists, Lee would like to see Lake Powell drained and Glen Canyon restored. She writes poetically and soulfully of her years as a river runner in the 1950s and of the beauty, solitude, and excitement of a wild place visited by very few. As a folksinger and Hollywood performer in the late 1950s and early 1960s, she protested the damming of the river to no avail. In response to a letter she wrote, Sen. Barry Goldwater observed that Arizona’s need for power and water required the dam and praised the reservoir’s potential for recreation and beauty. That being the predominant mindset throughout Western expansion, it now seems surprising that there is support, in the form of the Sierra Club and Glen Canyon Institute, for the dismantling of some dams and water projects and that the people involved in the original works now think they may have been wrong. Recommended for all libraries in the Southwest and those with Southwest collections.
Library Journal

In 1963, Glen Canyon, a 170-mile gorge that spans the border between southern Utah and northern Arizona along the Colorado River, was flooded and Glen Canyon dam built to generate hydroelectric power. The flooded gorge became Lake Powell, now a recreation area. Before the creation of the dam, during the 1950s and early 1960s, Lee–an actress, folk singer, song writer and author (Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle)–made 16 trips down the river, exploring the canyon and venturing into little-known side canyons. After her first experience running the river, Lee fell in love with Glen Canyon, becoming a part of regular expeditions on which she would sing and play her songs for the passengers. In the journals she kept, portions of which are excerpted here, the author successfully evokes the magnificent trails, beaches and waterfalls, as well as the unusual colors and smells, of the canyon. Lee was adamantly opposed to building the dam and, at the time, lobbied politicians to stop the project. She is now part of an effort, spearheaded by the Glen Canyon Institute and the Sierra Club, to drain Lake Powell and restore the canyon. Lee’s disorganized ramblings, while testifying to the beauty of the canyon, fail to clarify the complexities of the controversy for her readers. B&w illustrations.
Publishers Weekly

Categories: , , , , Product ID: 3701

Additional information




Johnson Books





Publication Date

June 15, 2021


6 x 9

The Author

Katie Lee

Katie Lee, in her 60-year career in the entertainment industry, was an author, musicologist, folk singer, storyteller, Hollywood actress, song writer, filmmaker, photographer, poet, and river runner. She was active in environmental causes ever since the destruction of her beloved Glen Canyon. Her first book, Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle, tells the story of the American cowboy in song, verse, and story. All My Rivers Are Gone: A Journey of Discovery Through Glen Canyon reveals her personal connection with the Colorado River and the fight to stop the building of the Glen Canyon Dam. Her documentary, The Last Wagon, won the 1972 CINE Golden Eagle Award. In 1997, she was featured in the PBS documentary, Cadillac Desert, based on Marc Reisner's acclaimed book. Her Colorado River songs and cowboy ballads are recorded on numerous albums and are available through Katydid Books and Music. She lived in Jerome, Arizona.