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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc. 
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For the week of June 6 - June 12, 2001

  Arts & Entertainment

‘Sunk Without a Sound’

Author Brad Domick speaks at Community Library about the curious case of Glen and Bessie Hyde

Express Arts Editor

The last photo taken of the Hydes, at Hermit Camp in Grand Canyon, Nov. 18, 1928. Photo by Adolph G. Sutro. Used by special arrangement with Fretwater Press and the Huntington Library.

Who were Glen and Bessie Hyde? On the surface they were a young Idaho couple who, on their 1928 honeymoon, ventured down the Colorado River and vanished. But as author and former Grand Canyon boatman Brad Dimock learned, their story seems to be much more involved.

Dimock has written a book about the Hydes entitled, Sunk Without a Sound: The Tragic Colorado River Honeymoon of Glen and Bessie Hyde. Dimock will present a slide show and talk about the disappearance of the newlyweds, Thursday, 7 p.m., at the Community Library in Ketchum.

Having worked as a boatman in Grand Canyon for 28 years, Dimock heard and told his share of river tales. Still, the Hyde story stands out in the canyon lore as one of the more intriguing tales.

From his home in Flagstaff, Ariz., Dimock relayed to me an abbreviated version of the story in a telephone interview.

Glen Hyde was a farmer living in the Twin Falls area who took an interest in river running for enjoyment—one of the few people at the time who did. In 1926, Hyde made a trip up to Salmon, Idaho, where he met a legendary river man, Cap Guleke. Guleke taught Hyde how to construct a wooden sweep scow. They, with Hyde’s sister Jeanne, took the scow down the Salmon and Snake rivers to Lewiston, Idaho.

It was a trip that inspired Hyde to build a boat of his own.

In 1928, Hyde built a 20-foot scow with his new wife, Bessie. The couple then set off down the Colorado River and negotiated over 160 miles, including the rapids of Cataract Canyon. At what is commonly referred to as Phantom Ranch, the Hyde’s hiked out to the south rim of the canyon, where they met Emory Cole, a famous boatman of the time.

Dimock said, "Cole told [the Hydes] ‘you oughta have life jackets,’ but they were Idaho boaters, and Idaho boaters didn’t wear lifejackets." The Hydes also met a sightseer, who went back down to the river with them, took some photos of the couple and even rode down river to Hermit Creek on the scow.

He was the last person to see the Hydes.

Hyde’s father organized an extensive search of the canyon. The search party discovered the 20-foot scow upright in the river—the bow line was caught on a rock—and fully loaded with the couple’s gear. When asked if the bodies ever turned up, Domick said, "Well, not yet."

In the third part of his book, Domick discusses some of the mythology that developed around this mystery.

An example Domick offered over the phone concerned a woman on a 1971 commercial river trip in Grand Canyon. The "guides told the Hyde story around the fire like we always do—it’s a very popular story down here—and a woman said, ‘I know what happened. I’m Bessie Hyde. I killed him. He was beating me. I stabbed him, threw him in the river and hiked out, went back East and started life over.’"

The story was further complicated, Domick explained, when in 1992 Georgie White—a famed Grand Canyon boatwoman—died. It was discovered that White had completely fabricated her life and past. It turns out her "name wasn’t Georgie, it was Bessie," Domick said. Further, when people went through White’s effects, they found in her lingerie drawer a pistol and a wedding certificate of Glen and Bessie Hyde.

Author Brad Dimock with a possible Glen Hyde skeleton. Photo by David Edwards


And there are other curious events that Domick relays in his book and will, no doubt, discuss Thursday evening.

Domick is a historian of the Colorado River and co-author, with Vince Welch and Cort Conley, of The Doing of the Thing: The Brief, Brilliant Whitewater Career of Buzz Holmstrom. It won the National Outdoor Book Award in 1998.

The slide show and talk Thursday at the library is free of charge.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.