Grand Canyon Park

Glen and Bessie Hyde - Strange disappearances in U.S. National Parks

Glen and Bessie Hyde, Nov. 17, 1928.

Glen and Bessie Hyde, Nov. 17, 1928.

Glen and Bessie Hyde, last seen, November 18th, 1928, (Last Diary Entry November 30th, 1928),Colorado River, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

Bessie Hyde and her husband, Glen, set off on a honeymoon trip on the Green and Colorado Rivers in October 1928. In those days, the Grand Canyon had no commercial river trips and the rapids were for seasoned explorers and professional expeditions only. They had no life jackets or specialist wet weather gear. Certainly not a trip for a pair of honeymooners in a homemade scow called Rain in the Face. Confirming the dangers, early in the trip, Glen fell out of the boat on a rapid.

The Hydes met on a passenger ship travelling to Los Angeles in 1927. They were married on April 12, 1928. 

Glen was an expert boat builder who built the 20-foot-long wooden sweep scow and had rafting experience on the Salmon and Snake rivers in Idaho a couple years earlier. In contrast, Bessie was a novice to rivers and rapids. Glen was determined to set a new speed record for travelling through the Grand Canyon, and he wanted Bessie to make history as the first documented woman to run the canyon.

Bessie Hyde, 22, was an aspiring poet, artist and bohemian. According to the late Otis "Dock" Marston's library,  the Hyde's plan was that they would run the canyon, then go on the lecture circuit and make money retelling their adventure. 

The couple were last seen on November. 18th, 1928 and their scow was found in early December, around three weeks later. It was found floating upright around River Mile 237, and filled with belongings and the supplies were fully strapped in. But Glen and Bessie were nowhere to be seen. There is evidence they made it as far as River Mile 225 where they may have made camp. A huge search turned up no trace of the couple.

Glen and Bessie Hyde scow

Starting on October 20th, 1928, the Hydes started their adventure in the city of Green River in Utah and made a successful run through many major rapids of the Green and Colorado rivers. They estimated it would take them no more than a month and a half to complete their journey. Almost a month into the trip, they spent a few days restocking at Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim on November 16th. At this time they talked with a reporter from the Denver Post assuming that their final destination, Needles, in California was just a few weeks away.

They hiked along the Bright Angel Trail, where they met brothers Ellsworth and Emery Kolb, famous photographers who ran a cliffside studio. Glen and Bessie went to the studio and introduced themselves to the Kolbs, explaining that they were honeymooners who had been rafting on the river for 26 days. The Kolb brothers said that the couple asked to have their photo taken on the canyon rim, and they would return to retrieve it after the trip was completed.

Emery Kolb

Emery Kolb

According to Emery Kolb, Glen said that they did not have life preservers, a comment that evoked a warning from Kolb that Glen responded to with a laugh. Kolb offered the couple life preservers but they refused, saying they could swim anything. Bessie, Emery Kolb said, looked nervous about the remaining journey ahead. As Glen and Bessie prepared to depart and walk down the trail to their boat, Emery Kolb’s daughter Emily appeared, nicely dressed. Bessie remarked, “I wonder if I shall ever wear pretty shoes again.” People who encountered the couple during their layover would later claim that Bessie seemed to want to leave the trip. 

Glen and Bessie Hyde

It is said that a man named Adolph G. Sutro accompanied the couple back into the canyon, taking photographs and even riding a short distance with them in the boat. If this is true, Sutro was likely the last person to see them alive.

By early December, Glen and Bessie had not been heard from. Emory Kolb initiated a search of the area that included a small plane that flew through the inner gorge of the canyon. The pilot saw the intact Hydes’ scow caught in the rocks on the river 15 miles south of Diamond Creek on December 20th, 1928. The assumption was that somewhere in the canyon they were on a ledge waiting to be found after 21 days.

When the rescue party reached the boat, they found food, clothing, books and Bessie’s journal as well as a camera which revealed the final photo to have been shot near river mile 165 on or about November 27. The last entry in Bessie's journal was on November 30th written near Diamond Creek.

Reith Hyde

Reith Hyde

Glen’s father, Reith Hyde, aged 70, hired a group of men to search the canyon within the area where Glen and Bessie likely travelled near Diamond Creek. He even enlisted Ellsworth and Emery Kolb to help. But after 41 days of searching, they had no success. Not a trace.

Since the couple's disappearance, there have been plenty of mysterious stories. What happened out there on the river? The obvious answer was that they both died in the rapids but why was the boat found intact and upright? Perhaps Glen Hyde was a bully who forced Bessie to continue the journey when she didn't want to, and perhaps even killed her in a fit of frustrated rage.  Alternatively perhaps Bessie killed Glen and disappeared.

Some friends of Georgie Clark, a woman who gained fame for her rafting adventures in the Grand Canyon, speculate that she was Bessie Hyde. A potential link between Georgie and Bessie started when friends were looking through her personal items following her death in 1992. People who had known her for decades had never been invited into her home. Upon looking at Clark’s personal effects, her friends learned that her birth certificate indicated that her real name was Bessie DeRoss, not Georgie. Clark or Georgie White (which was another surname she sometimes used). The latter two were the last names of husbands she had divorced.

Her friends’ curiosity was raised when they found the marriage license of Glen and Bessie Hyde at her home, and a pistol in her lingerie drawer. Colorado River historian Brad Dimock – whose book, “Sunk Without a Sound – The Tragic Colorado River Honeymoon of Glen and Bessie Hyde,” investigates the couple’s story and the subsequent theories examined the items from Clark’s home and concluded from photographs that Clark and Bessie Hyde were not the same person. The two women didn't even resemble each other and it's more likely the items were souvenirs.

Liz Cuttler

Liz Cuttler

On a 1971 commercial boat trip, an elderly woman called Liz Cuttler announced over the evening campfire that she was Bessie Hyde. "What did you do with Glen?" a boatman called George Billingsley asked, half-joking."I killed him," the woman answered without looking up. The honeymooners had a fight, she added; she stabbed Glen and hiked out to Peach Springs, Arizona then caught a bus back East to start a new life. Further investigations failed to prove a link between the woman and the disappearances and she was identified as a psychology professor from Ohio who liked to play mind games.

In 1976, a male skeleton was found on the property of Emery Kolb hidden in his garage and was believed to be Glen's, but analysis of the bones showed it was too young to have been him and it was determined it was a manual labourer due to the high muscle mass exhibited by the remains. The skull's features did not match Glen.

To this day, the disappearance of Glen and Bessie Hyde on the Colorado River remains a mystery but it is likely they were lost in the area of Mile 232, 45 miles from the end of the Grand Canyon.


Further Reading and viewing

"Sunk Without a Sound: The Tragic Colorado River Honeymoon of Glen and Bessie Hyde" (Fretwater Press), by Brad Dimock

The Grand Canyon Mystery

Morgan Heimer - Strange disappearances from U.S. national parks

Morgan Heimer, disappeared June 2nd 2015, River Mile 213 near Pumpkin Springs, Colorado river, Grand Canyon National Park

Morgan Heimer, disappeared Grand Canyon national park

Twenty-two year old, Morgan Heimer, was working as a commercial guide for Tour West, a rafting company. The group was on day six of an eight-day trip on the Colorado River when Heimer went missing.

tour west logo

He was last seen on Tuesday, June 2, at approximately 4 p.m., around River Mile 213 near Pumpkin Springs in the Grand Canyon National Park. He was reported missing at 7:26 p.m. on the same day by a member of the river trip following a swim in the river by the group. He was wearing a dark-coloured Astral personal flotation device, a blue plaid long sleeve shirt, a pair of Chaco flip-flop sandals, a maroon baseball cap, and brightly coloured shorts and carrying a purple water bottle.

Pumpkin Springs in the Grand Canyon National Park

The other trip leader was talking to some clients and Morgan was last seen standing at the river's edge and when the trip leader turned around, Morgan was gone, never to be seen again. Heimer was a keen outdoorsman with significant river guide experience.  Searchers said at the time "He definitely has the skills and ability to perform the job and be a person we have a high likelihood to find".

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 07.00.24.pngPumpkin Springs in the Grand Canyon National Park

Park rangers and search and rescue teams extensively searched the river between River Miles 211-225 and on land stretching from River Mile 211-215 around Pumpkin Springs. They then extended the search area to Diamond Creek, 12 miles west of Pumpkin Springs. Fellow employees of the Tour West guide service, clients on that river trip and other river outfitters and their clients were interviewed.

Despite this extensive six day search, Morgan was never seen again and no evidence found. What happened on that day in June 2015? Did he accidentally fall into the Colorado River? Drowned and caught in a branch or under a rock? Did he wander off and get lost in the wilderness? Very strange indeed for this man who was leading the tour group and was seen by the water's edge one minute and then vanished the next. 

Drake Cramer - Strange disappearances from U.S. national parks

Drake L. Kramer, disappeared February 1st 2015, Grand Canyon National Park

Drake Cramer disappearance Grand Canyon National Park

21 year old, Drake Cramer 21, of San Antonio, was enrolled to study geology at the University of Texas. 

He was last seen on Sunday, February 1st, 2015 in the vicinity of the Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park.  He was reported missing the next day by his parents, Robin and Brenda Kramer.

South rim Grand Canyon national park

Drake stayed the night as a guest at the lodge, checking out the next morning. He sent his family a strange text message before his disappearance in which he said “he had to give his body to Mother Earth.”. The family were surprised he had driven to California and then on to the canyon. They last saw him on January 29th, when they went to see the film American Sniper and he was reported to be “He was in good spirits,” according to Kramer’s father. It was very unlike him to travel to the wilderness alone but he had been to the Grand Canyon area 2-3 times before. However, he was very experienced in the outdoors.

Drake Cramer disappearance Grand Canyon

Park rangers and search and rescue teams searched the South Rim area from Hermit’s Rest on the West Side to Grandview on the East for around six days. The Park service said, “Teams of searchers have walked miles along the canyon rim, searched heavily forested areas, utilised dog teams, performed several over the rim technical searches, and conducted multiple aerial reconnaissance missions to support ground searchers.” But the search was to no avail.

Rangers said, "while the weather with daytime temperatures in the 60s has been good , the terrain being searched – flat on top of the rim, but rocky and unstable just off the edge – can be a challenge. There’s trees down there, there’s shrubs, there’s rocks; the canyon walls are often shaded depending on the time of day. It’s just a real mix of terrain, which does make it difficult to work in.”

Drake's enigmatic text message to his parents of his desire to return to Mother Earth may have just been a reference to a need to escape to the outdoors. However, it is unusual in this area of the South Rim of Grand Canyon that no sign of him or his remains have been found.