In 1869, Major John Wesley Powell and a team of rag-tag mountain men became the first to explore the Canyons of the Green and Colorado Rivers, on their journey from Wyoming to Nevada by boat. Two years later, Powell returned to better measure, qualify, and quantify the often hasty observations he made on his first voyage. River running had not evolved into the art form it is today, and molehill rapids often had mountainous results. Such it was half-way through Desolation Canyon on the Green River, at what is today considered a relatively minor riffle. Powell's men lined the boats laboriously down the rocky shore, slipping on the rocks, stumbling in the swift current, and getting thoroughly soaked. Frederick Dellenbaugh, seventeen at the time, wrote:

Colorized photograph of Fretwater Falls.

E.O. Beaman 1872

Fretwater Press was founded by Brad Dimock in 1998 in Flagstaff, Arizona. We currently have ten books in print with hopes to continue growing cautiously--in spite of the apparent collapse of the printed word. Or because of it. Our books address the characters and stories of the Colorado River and its tributary streams, from the time of their discovery until the present.

We strive for the highest quality in writing, design, editing, and production, in hopes that our books will supply many years of fireside reading in the sands of the greater Colorado--or at home, dreaming of the river.

Fretwater Falls

...when we had finished that we were tired, hungry, wet, and cold, so under a cottonwood tree on the right we stopped for needed refreshment, and while it was preparing most of us hung our clothes on the branches of a fallen tree to dry. The rapid foaming and fuming presented so vigorous an appearance and made so much noise we thought it ought to be named, and it was called Fretwater Falls.

Frank Bishop described the scene at their mid-day camp:

What a picture sitting here under a huge cottonwood; Clem sitting on a massive root is pounding the pile of driftwood and singing "Put Me In My Little Bed," Steward just below him with his hat and shirt on writing up his diary. Mr. Beaman a little to his left is sitting in undress uniform. Fred is sitting on a pine log just above me drying his pants on a tree; Jack in the same occupation, only turning before the fire like a spitted chicken. Andy is cooking dinner and I am reclining on the sand and driftwood writing, while the more substantial part of my dress is hanging on a dead tree keeping the company of two or three others of the same sort. Clem seems to think it capital fun to knock sand into my face while I am writing. It may be to him, but I fail to see the point of his gaudy amusement. Dinner is called and there is a general rush and rally on the biscuits and coffee. Beaman has gone up to take a picture of 'Fretwater Falls,' the name we gave to the last rapid.

Powell's men could have saved a day of toil, trouble, and abuse, by just floating down the middle of this insignificant riffle. Fretwater seems to signify fretting and stewing over something entirely trivial, as we so often do in life. We'd all be better off damning the torpedos and flying right down the middle, full speed ahead.

The inescapable result of researching river stories to the extreme has been having to recreate the boats and run them. Just to see. Which got entirely out of hand. So now Brad Dimock has a fully operational boat factory. Should you want a boat, or need one fixed, or just want to hang around a bunch of bent wood and old boatmen, head on over to Fretwater Boatworks.

Should you care to follow Brad Dimock’s writing and boatbuilding blog, visit fretwaterlines