When most towns and villages in the Southwest were founded, they were oriented according to their rivers. Houses and shops faced the river. People went to the river for sustenance, for commerce and for travel.
Slowly, things changed. The railroads came to town and towns responded by orienting towards the railroad and away from the river. Then the little trails and wagon roads turned into state highways and later, interstates. The towns responded once again by reorienting to that new source of commerce and travel.
In doing so, the Southwest lost its sense of place. We now live "at" a place but not "with" or "of" a place. We have lost an understanding of "where" we live and how we got there.
As a result, we have turned our backs on the rivers and waterways we share with our Southwestern landscape. We've fenced them in, paved them over; channelized them, diverted them, flood-controlled them, turned them into sewers, over-allocated, under-appreciated and dammed them to the point of non-existance and irrelevance. We've condemned them to a slow death by willful negligence.
A by-product of that negligence is the loss of our rivers histories. Today, almost no one in the Southwest has any knowledge or understanding of the role played by ferries in the settlement of the states of Utah, Arizona, Colorado or New Mexico.
While the purpose of the Southwest Ferry Project is to research and document the commercial ferry operations in the Southwest, the foundation or baseline of this project is the rivers themselves. We can't ignore the health and welfare of our southwestern rivers anymore that we can the blood that flows through our bodies.
If you're interesting in restoring a degree of balance back to the rivers of the Southwest, look into the programs the following organizations offer.