Every morning when I drive my kids to school in Glendale, I pass over a stretch of the Jordan River. It's just a flash of dirty blue-grey water but it always make me pensive. When I did a story on the Jordan recently, River Rats, I came to love its long stretches of development hemmed-in wilderness. But there are parts of the river, in Sandy, Murray and downtown, where it seems so trapped and compressed by concrete that it's little more than a ghost of itself.---
A recent press release from the Salt Lake City Police Department marked the 86th anniversary of the killing of a local cop, David H Crowther on Oct. 12, 1923. He was found by the Jordan with a .32 bullet in the head, killed by a transient. The suspected killer was later executed.
Crowther is one of many who've died by or in the Jordan. It's a river full of ghosts and it's a metaphor that extends to the lives transients lead more or less all year round by its banks. I crossed a bridge by 3300 South this summer and found a man asleep in long grass by the river, a bottle by his feet. A couple froze to death by the river earlier this year and another transient was picked out of its murky depths in the summer. When the local jail turns its charges out, many drift over to a nearby tent community buried in the woods by the waters.
But the biggest ghost is the river itself. As you drive by it next time, remember that once upon a time it wasn't an environmentalist's cause, a developer's target, or a repository for sewage and garbage. Once it was a free-flowing and unruly force that gave life and splendor to this valley.