North of Flagstaff, Arizona 85 miles and 45 miles south of Page on Highway 89 you will find “The Gap” Trading Post. It is situated deep into the Navajo Reservation and lies on a paved highway linking Northern Arizona and Lake Powell.
It wasn’t always that accessible. Before the Glen Canyon Dam was built, there was no Page, Arizona. The town was founded in 1957 to house workers building the dam that would contain Lake Powell.
Adventurous people who were willing to risk rough roads cut through the dirt and red rocks of the area occasionally made it to the Gap Trading Post.
In 1952, Mrs. J. Wallace Wintch of Manti, Utah visited the post and left with an extraordinary large and beautifully woven Navajo weaving measuring 8’6” x 15’9”. Simply to weave a rug of this size is a formidable task. To weave one as beautiful as this piece was a work of love and patience.
The weaving design is a Storm Pattern.
Some writers, including H.L. James, the author of “Posts and Rugs” claim that the Storm Pattern had its origin in the Western trading posts of which The Gap is one. For the record, I think he is wrong as the pattern seems to have first appeared in a catalog put out by J.B. Moore at the Crystal Trading Post. We will probably never know for sure, but when you look at this piece, you know you are seeing something special.
I have never seen as nice a Storm as the weaving purchased by Mrs. Wintch. In fact, I can say with complete conviction, that it is among the best large weavings to ever came off a Navajo loom.
According to the Wintch family story, the rug took two years to complete and was exchanged with Mr. Powell, the trader at the Gap, for credit in his store.
It is woven using hand spun native wool using natural wool colors except for the red which was undoubtedly obtained from Mr. Powell. Dyes were sold in packets at the time and were labeled with the unique name, “Navajo Dyes!”
It has been in the Wintch family since that time and has been lovingly cared for with respect and appreciation.
As a side note, it was hard finding somewhere that we could spread it out and take a picture. Rob Hunt and I nearly wore our arms out holding it off the top of the gallery building while Rob’s wife, Linda, took the photo! She captured it perfectly!