Joe Graves, water dowser and staurolite star, dies
Joe Graves had a sense, “the gift” as he called it, to find what was otherwise hidden. As a dowser, he found underground rivers with only a forked willow stick and a prayer. On a hillside in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains he found perfect staurolites. And in piles of rubbish he found the pieces of trash with potential for beautiful art.
Graves was known in Taos and around the Southwest for these gifts. He died Saturday (Oct. 6), about two weeks shy of turning 86, leaving behind four adult children, several grandchildren and a community that will miss his gentle nature and quiet magic.
Graves’ mother had roots in Arroyo Seco and his dad came to the area in a covered wagon. He grew up in Carson, catching wild horses with his dad and brother and learning to make his way in the then-isolated landscape west of the Gorge. It’s fitting that most people remember Graves as a cowboy — distinctive drawl and a tattered turkey feather in his hat.
Graves learned to make rustic furniture and carvings, knives and flint fire starters, elk antler chandeliers and art from the things he found.
“The man was never sitting still,” said his son James Graves.
But it was his gift as a water dowser that brought Graves close to thousands of people around the county and region. Dowsing is a way of finding water that’s decried by some as pseudoscience but appreciated by the homeowners, ranchers and contractors who counted on Graves for his remarkable success.
Joe Graves, a water diviner and finder of staurolite crosses, died Saturday (Oct. 6).