Sandstone, Silver, and Time: An Exhibit by Michael Plyler

Michael Plyler Frontier Homestead State Park and photographer Michael Plyler present “Sandstone, Silver, and Time,” an exhibition of black and white photographs celebrating the beauty of Zion National Park during this centennial anniversary year of the creation of the National Park Service. This exhibit is made possible by the support of the Cedar City-Brian Head Tourism Bureau.

Springdale resident Michael Plyler works with a 4 x 5 large format film camera to interpret the beauty of his backyard, Zion National Park. His prints are traditional “wet” darkroom prints individually hand-crafted by the photographer. The title of this show is a meditation on the constituent elements that contribute to the imagery. Just as erosion over time shapes the sandstone, time and silver conspire to sculpt the film’s emulsion and bring Zion’s beauty to the fore.

Ponderosas' Guardian

Michael Plyler is the Director of Zion Canyon Field Institute in Zion National Park. He has been making photographs and exhibiting his work since 1982. In 1983 he received a commission from the Guatemalan Tourist Institute for his portrait work of the highland Maya, resulting in his first international exhibition. In 1993 he was awarded a prestigious Visual Artist Fellowship from the Utah Arts Council. In 2013 he had the distinct honor of having 56 pieces from his Mayan portfolio added to the permanent collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. His work has been exhibited widely here and abroad, and is held in numerous public and private collections.

In 2010 Utah State University Press released Plyler’s and writer Logan Hebner’s book “Southern Paiute: A Portrait.” The book was the culmination of a ten year project wherein Hebner interviewed, and Plyler photographed, Southern Paiute elders from Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah. The show will run from September 1 through October 31 at Frontier Homestead.

Last Light II



National Geographic comes to Cedar City

Angels Landing “Utah blazes with color.” This sentence opens the May 1936 article in National Geographic “Utah, Carved by Winds and Waters.”In early 1936, writer Leo A. Borah visited southern Utah and toured with local tourism booster Randall L. Jones. Thanks to local Cedar City resident Scott Truman, who recently donated this issue to the museum, we now have access to this forgotten piece of writing.  Borah notes many unique features of our community, especially the golf course:

“Cedar City, gateway to the southern Utah parks, has a golf course which symbolizes the Utah pioneer spirit. Several miles from town it lies, in an arid valley crowded by craggy hills. Its ‘greens’ are a mixture of sand, sawdust, and oil; its teeing places bristle doormats set in wooden frames; its fairways barren stretches from which sagebrush has been laboriously dug.

Randall Jones and I went out to the course with a club member, who explained with a chuckle as we jounced over the rough trail from the highway to the links that the jolts were ‘warming-up’ exercises for the game. In front of the ‘shake’ clubhouse beside a clump of scraggly juniper trees an iron mine owner and a West Point cadet were toiling in the hot sun to set an additional doormat for teeing.

The sand, sawdust, and oil putting "green"

The course lacks nothing in ‘rough.’ As if the hazards of cliffs, gullies, sagebrush, and thickets were not sufficient, there is an occasional rattlesnake for the player to kill with his club, or an inquisitive deer to chase out of the way with his shots.  That wild valley looks as little like a possible place for a golf course as the trackless desert the pioneers settled looked like farmland.”

Following is a sampling of the many photos from the article:

The rock church


The aspens of Cedar Mountain








Zion singaway

A 1936 Cedar Breaks view

Sprite and the National Parks

Pop, fountain drinks, flavored water, the possibilities for what it’s been called vary based on region and dialect; but undoubtedly everyone in the United States has heard of soda. An American staple for decades, soda is a large industry. Popular brands such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi are household names. With a recent gift of a collection of vintage soda bottles, we have discovered an advertisement that hits close to home utilizing the wide-spread popularity of the flavored drinks.  

New bottles added to the collection. Donated by Robin Haight.In 1966, operation “Golden Eagle” was introduced by the federal government. As part of this promotion of national parks and monuments a family could purchase a “golden permit” for $7 that would allow them to visit any national park as many times as they wanted between April of 1966 and March of 1967.

A 1966 Coca Cola publication.The Coca-Cola Company began an advertising promotion using the iconic green glass Sprite bottle. They produced a line of 7 to 10 ounce Sprite bottles embossed with the names of 36 national parks and monuments, ranging from the Lincoln Memorial to Yellowstone National Park. The Coca-Cola Company thought that by doing this, they not only could encourage visitors to use and enjoy America’s federal recreation areas, but create a unique collectors market. Various bottle manufactures sprang into action and began producing the new bottles. However, for reasons unknown, the promotion fell through. Instead of scrapping the bottles, the Company decided to put them into circulation in an effort to highlight the importance of the National Park system.

Zion National Park bottle.In the collection recently donated, 5 bottles have the names embossed on the bottom. These include: Mammoth Cave National Park (twice), Sequoia National Park, Big Bend National Park, and one we were very excited to find, Zion National Park. These bottles bring back fond memories and long after their contents are gone, they are still inspiring people to visit our National Parks.


For more about this promotion and a full list of the bottles produced, check out this article from the May 1966 issue of Coca-Cola's own Refresher Magazine. Sprite National Park Promotion.