Some of my favorite river tales are about couples who find romance on the river. With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought this would be a perfect time to share one of Grand Canyon’s best-known love stories.
The story of Glen and Bessie Hyde also has long been one of the Canyon’s greatest mysteries, and rumors about the ill-fated lovers have circulated for years. The newlyweds attempted to run the Colorado River through Grand Canyon in the fall of 1928 but disappeared somewhere below river mile 95, never to be seen again.
Searchers found the couple’s custom-made scow — a square-ended wooden boat many people described as coffin shaped and terrible for whitewater rivers — just below 232 Mile Rapid. Their scow was upright and fully intact, with supplies still strapped in, but no other trace of the Hydes has ever been found. Most historians believe 29-year-old Glen, a moderately experienced boatman, and 22-year-old Bessie fell or were swept out of the boat in heavy rapids. However, legends persist that Bessie, a novice rafter and recent divorcee, killed her new husband on the rafting trip and hiked out of the Canyon alone.
Long-time river runner and author Brad Dimock went so far as to recreate the honeymooners’ run, to try to unlock the mystery of their disappearance. His book, Sunk Without A Sound, offers an excellent examination of Glen and Bessie’s trip.
Whatever happened to the Hydes, the important thing to remember is: Grand Canyon expeditions have come a long way since 1928! Grand Canyon Whitewater’s state-of-the-art rafts are a far cry from the archaic scow Glen and Bessie rowed, and Glen Canyon Dam’s steady release of water tamed some of the river’s wild fluctuations. Whitewater vacations are a much safer, and more romantic, journey than they were in Glen and Bessie’s day!