The Story of Iven Bundy
The trip isnt over after Lava Falls, no matter what some boaters
think. Theres still a lot to do, see and talk about, especially if youre
getting new folks in for the lower end. The Hurricane Fault Zone, The Hydes, The Hualapai
people, Bridge Canyon Dam, and of course, the story of Iven Bundy. This tale is reprinted
with permission from Footprints on the Arizona Strip by Nellie Cox.
Drowned in the Colorado
Iven Leroy Bundy was the oldest son of Roy and
Doretta Iverson Bundy, having been born in the Mormon Colony of Moroles, in the state of
Sonora, Old Mexico, on June 18, 1908. With his parents and sister, Bessie, he was a
refugee from the Revolution of 1912 and became one of the original settlers of Bundyville.
Iven was a steady, dependable lad, very trustworthy and reliable. After his
father became crippled by arthritis, Iven delayed his plans of going on a Mission to
preach the Gospel and of getting married in order to help care for the cattle and do the
On April 19, 1931, when he was nearly twenty-three years of age, Iven and his
cousin, Floyd Iverson, with whom he had always been very closely associated, were down
close to the Colorado River caring for their fathers sheep. Having nothing else to
do, they decided to swim across the current. Floyd made it; Iven was sucked under by a
whirlpool and lost. The following is the search for his body as told by Chester Bundy, an
uncle of the two boys.
I was herding our sheep down in Mule Canyon in the spring of 1931 when
I got word that Iven had been drowned in the Colorado. It was one of my brother Jims
boys who brought the word. He said that they wanted me to go help search for his body.
That ridge there close to the spring was two thousand feet high, but I climbed out of
there in ten minutes. Floyd, Pat, Ensign Griffiths, and I then went down to the river. It
was raining when we got there and we built a fire in a cave to keep warm and spend the
night. Almost immediately, centipedes, scorpions, and other varmints came crawling in.
None of us slept that night. We found nothing at the river next morning, so went back to
Roy wanted Floyd, Pat and me to take a galvanized boat, which weighed
one hundred and eighty pounds and had an air chamber in each end, and go down the river.
Aunt Rettie fixed us some grubcookies, beans, and jerky, and we started. South of
Parashaunt, we had the bad luck to upset the boat, and since things werent properly
tied in, we lost a lot of our food and a box of dynamite we had brought along to blow up
fish for eating. We had made an agreement with Albert Snyder that we would build a signal
fire if we were going on down the river. We did, and he gave us a signal in return.
It was Sunday when we reached Diamond Creek. We decided to go up it,
hoping to find some trout, as we badly needed something to help out our food supply. We
had been five days on that river without having a real meal. Bad rapids were always just
ahead, and worrying kept us from digesting our food very well. We walked a heck of a long
way, but didnt get any fish.
Discovery at Diamond Creek
When we got back down to the first landing at Diamond Creek, we saw
this big wooden boat with something written on the side. A young honeymooning couple had
vanished two months before while going down the river and were believed to have drowned up
above Diamond Creek, their boat coming on over the rapids afterward. The boys father
had sent a party to search for them, thinking they might have gone up a canyon and choked
to death. But they found no trace of them.
A government survey camp had been at this point at one time and had
built a blacksmith shop. A big two-foot wide plank had served as a place to put tools. I
lay down to rest on an old bed springs, which lay partly under this bench. Of course, I
looked up, and there I saw written the name of the young couple! (Proving that they had
reached this point alive, instead of drowning farther up river.) Later on I notified
Doc Marsten, the first man to run a power boat through the Grand Canyon, of
what I had found.
Our boat wasnt capable of taking the larger rapids, so we tried
to steer around them, and we also carried the boat around a lot of them. Once, trying to
steer around one bad rapid, we broke an ore, which meant we could do nothing but ride on
through. We kept this up until we came to a narrow place where the river wound through a
gorge and there was no way to get around.
We figured that we could leg one another up over a high
ledge on one side and push and pull the boat up, too, by means of a rope. Pat was the
first to go up, Floyd and I having all we could do to get him up. He got his nose over the
edge, and there, within a foot of his face, was a big rattlesnake. Pat had one of our two
six shooters in a holster fastened around his waist. He reached down and got it and shot
that snake right in the head!
I prayed that we might find Ivens body. I dont think I ever
prayed so hard in my life. Roy was crippled and unable to help us hunt, and Iven was his
On Monday morning we left Diamond Creek, and two days later reached
Separation Rapid, though we didnt know its name at the time. Five days floating down
that old river without knowing where we were! Several times we had climbed to the top of
rims to try to determine our whereabouts. I had climbed to the top of a mountain, as far
as I could, without being able to see out.
Separation Rapid was so bad we couldnt see how we could take a
boat through. There were big boulders, situated here and there so a boat couldnt go
through without hitting. We decided to tie a log to the end of the tow rope, with two
going below and one staying above to cut the boat loose. The one cutting it loose would
then fire a shot and the other two would swim out and get hold of it - if the boat made it
Floyd and I went downstream, and Pat stayed to cut it loose. Then
the boat shot down toward us, hitting something and bursting an air chamber. She was
sinking and taking on water, but the log floated over to the edge. We got hold of it and
pulled; but the air chamber had filled up with sand, and pulling it just made it go deeper
into the sand. One of us dived down and lifted, while the other two pulled. The one who
dived would get it up a foot or two and then would have to come up for air. We kept at it,
anyway, and after a heck of a long time, we got her out.
We were getting low on grub, with flour and rice for just one more
meal. We hated to give up, but we knew we were going to have to quit the river. The water
was high, much higher than at any place we had been before. We lugged and pulled until we
got the boat way up on the ledge at least fifty feet higher than the highest high water
Separation Canyon has a little stream coming down it, though today it
sinks out of sight before reaching the river. We took off up that canyon at five
oclock in the afternoon and walked until ten that night. Next morning, we filled a
little quart canteen - all we had - and went upstream until we came where three canyons
branched off. We were getting pretty weak, wanting to hold on to our last mouthful of
food. So instead of eating, we took turns going up the canyons, figuring we were done for
if one of them didnt lead us out.
Pat said, Ill take my turn first and go up this west
canyon. You fellows stay here until I get back. After about an hour, he returned.
A bird would have to go straight up to get out of that, he declared.
Floyd said he would take the middle one. An hour or two later he came
back, saying that not even a bird could get out of it.
I thought for a few moments and then said, You fellows might as
well go up this other canyon with me. Because, if we dont get out of it, we are done
for - we will never get out at all.
Escape from the Canyon
So we started up this third canyon. We found a birds nest and
sucked those eggs right now. We climbed and struggled up this canyon practically all day.
But it took us out! Finally, we got where we could see out on top, and the first thing we
saw was an old road that used to go down on the point to what was called The Snyder
Mine. It led down on the sandstone level, half way down into the bottom of the
canyon. We followed the road until we came to Kelley Seeps, where we got a drink of water.
That in our canteen had vanished quite a while before.
A reservoir was not too far up ahead, and soon we saw a jackrabbit,
which I managed to get with my six shooter. Boy, we were sitting pretty, now, with rabbit
and rice and pancakes, though we had only one cake apiece. But boy, did we enjoy it!
Two cowboys came riding out of the trees, very surprised to see us and
to learn what we were doing there. Luther Swanner and Tine Heckathorne were their names,
and Luther told us if we would follow the road, wed find a cabin with some jerkey on
the north side of it, and to help ourselves. We never did find the cabin, though.
We kept walking and finally came to Slim Warings ranch over in
Horse Valley. No one was there, but we went in and helped ourselves to something to eat.
We were ready for another meal, though, when we reached the Mathis Ranch. An old fellow
staying there asked us where we had been, and when we told him, he said, Anybody
crazy enough to go down the Colorado River looking for a dead man ought to starve!
He insulted us so that we just walked off and left him without finding out who he was.
George Weston and family were living at Penns Valley. He had been
in the party which had searched for the Hydes - the young honeymooning couple. Mrs. Weston
said, You fellows just stay here, tonight, and we will put you up with a bed.
She fixed us a good meal, and next morning cooked us a good breakfast and made us a nice
lunch. So we made it on to Belnaps place, where my brother, Jim, and a bunch were
shearing sheep, and went on home next morning, it being only a short distance away.
My prayers had been that we might find Ivens body, and I had been
so sure we would that I was somewhat bitter when we didnt. I just couldnt get
it off my mind.
Later on, we read a description of a body which had been found by two
prospectors down at Greggs Ferry. But it didnt sound like Ivens body.
The men had buried the remains and reported it at Kingman; but nothing was done about it.
Then, a year later, my brother, Omer, was on jury duty at Kingman, and one of the jurors
was one of the men who had helped bury the body. He told Omer that the newspaper account
had not given a correct description at all, and told Omer the true facts. We felt that it
was Iven, but of course, were not sure. Then they got to working on Boulder Dam, and the
Government offered to move any of the graves in the area to any place the families
desired. Ivens sister, Barbara, went down and she looked at the teeth, and judging
by the way they were worn off, she figured it was Iven. When I heard what she said, I felt
very strongly that it was Iven. This was a lesson to me to never doubt that prayers are
Memories of Iven
Iven and I herded sheep for Fred Schultz and the Greeks out on the
Strip, and he was preparing to go on a Mission. He used to herd sheep and study the
Scriptures at the same time. At night, he would come in and give Book of Mormon Scriptures
to me. He was well prepared to be a Missionary. And he had plenty of nerve. I have seen
him sit on the edge of those cliffs down at Frog and he would dangle his feet out over the
edge, while he yelled across the canyon to me. I am sure that wherever he is now, it is
the place where he is supposed to be!