Norm and Doris Nevills Collection
- 75 black-and-white photographs, 3 color photographs, 2 black-and-white photographs
with hand coloring, 1 picture postcard, 2 cabinet cards
- Views include:
- The collection shows Norm and Doris Nevills with family members, as well
as various river trips, and the people that went on those trips. Also shown
is Norm Nevills on the famous 1938 river trip with Elzada Clover and Lois
Jotter Cutter. Views of Mexican Hat, Utah and the Nevills Lodge at Mexican
Hat are also included.
- Biographic note:
- Norman Davies Nevills was born in April of 1908 to William E. Nevills and
Mae Davies Nevills of California. In 1921, William E. Nevills left his son
and wife Mae to seek his fortune drilling oil in Utah where he became fascinated
by rivers. In 1924, he took a trip down the San Juan River in an open boat.
Mae joined William in 1925, while Norm stayed in California to continue his
education. Norm Nevills attended the College of the Pacific in Stockton, California
for two years before leaving in 1927 to join his parents in Mexican Hat, Utah.
Norm was greatly influenced by his fathersí adventures on the river and soon
took to the idea of running the river himself.
- Norman met his wife, Doris Drown, in July of 1933 at a dance in Monticello,
Utah. They saw each other three more times and married in October of 1933.
They planned for their honeymoon a river trip run down the San Juan River.
Norm built the boat himself out of his mother's horse trough, with the
holes patched with tin. In March 1934, the Nevills went on their long-awaited
trip and made it through with very few problems. This trip, in turn, fanned
Norm's desire to guide paying customers down the river.
- In 1938, Norm got his first chance at doing a complete run of the Colorado
River from Green River, Utah through Cataract and Grand canyons to Boulder
Dam. This trip meant publicity and a chance to make money for more commercial
trips. Dr. Elzada Clover, a botanist from the University of Michigan, wanted
to make a river trip to catalog the flora of the Grand Canyon. She brought
along Lois Jotter, a botany graduate student as her assistant. This trip starting
in July of 1938, lasted 43 days and 666 miles and brought publicity and recognition
to Nevills not only for successfully running the entire length of the Colorado
River, but by having the first women aboard ever to complete the run of the
entire Grand Canyon.
- Norm Nevills and his company, Nevills Expeditions made many more runs of
the San Juan and Colorado rivers, including six more of the Grand Canyon,
after that famous trip. Such expeditions included his 1942 trip, where he
took two teenage boys with him to prove the "safety" of river running.
Norm also took Barry Goldwater on a river trip in 1940. His wife Doris and
his two daughters, Joan and Sandra, often accompanied him on these trips.
- In 1946, Norm Nevills bought his first plane, named "Cherry,"
after a pet name he called Doris. Flying became not only a pasttime, but aided
in the transportation problems he sometimes faced along the river. In 1948,
Norm exchanged his first plane for a more powerful one which he named "Cherry
II." In 1949, after receiving the news of the unexpected death of Doris'
uncle, Norm and Doris took off from Mt. Pleasant, Utah on a trip to Sacramento,
California. With their daughter Sandra watching, the engine of their plane
died and the plane crashed, killing Norm and Doris.
- Nevills Expeditions was sold to two of Norm's boatmen, J. Frank Wright
and Jim Rigg, who renamed it Mexican Hat Expeditions. In 1950, family, friends,
and river runners gathered to honor Norm and Doris by having a plaque dedicated
to them at Navajo Bridge, Marble Canyon.
Special Collections and Archives Department
Northern Arizona University
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