Federal board renames ‘Negro Bill’ Canyon
After years of debate, a U.S. government board has voted to rename Utah’s Negro Bill Canyon, overruling a recommendation by Utah officials to keep the name.
The U.S. Board on Geographic Names decided Thursday to rename it Grandstaff Canyon to get rid of an offensive name, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. The vote was 12 to 0, with one member declining to vote.
The new name honors black rancher and prospector William Grandstaff, whose cattle grazed there in the 1870s.
“His name was Grandstaff; it was not Negro Bill,” said WendiStarr Brown, a member of the federal board, who is Native American. “I’m pretty sure that’s not how he wanted to be addressed in life.”
The Utah Committee on Geographic Names had recommended keeping the name, citing a lack of consensus from state minority groups.
The canyon is home to a popular hiking spot in Moab, the gateway to stunning, massive red rock formations.
Spurred by complaints from tourists, the Grand County Council voted in January to change the name after refusing to do so in 2013 and 2015.
A year ago, the federal Bureau of Land Management changed signs to say “Grandstaff Trailhead” instead of “Negro Bill” trailhead.