The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad is being resurrected in an unusual way in the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area. Partners David Grow and George Jones of Environetics have built a caboose and railroad village at Big Rock Candy Mountain, north of Marysvale in Piute County. In February they received a 50-year lease of the old Denver and Rio Grande Depot from the city of Mt. Pleasant to build a similar resort there.
Jones, a retired railroad union executive with an interest in historic railroading, began collecting cabooses several years ago. About six years ago he approached Grow with the idea of turning them into a unique resort.
After several years of planning, last year the pair opened the Track 89 Caboose Village Resort at Big Rock Candy Mountain with three railroad cars. This year they have seven and next year they hope to have 10. The Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area recently awarded the project a $25,000 grant for landscaping and parking.
Grow said it is unlikely the Mt. Pleasant facility will be open this season since major work needs to be done to prepare the site and move the railroad cars into place. He is very excited about the location, however.
“We’ve always loved that old depot and looked into moving it further down Highway 89 but found it was too expensive,” Grow said.
In 1977 the building was rescued from demolition by a group of local citizens who wanted to preserve it and had it moved to its present location from 500 West and Main.
The new location is ideal, Grow said. “It has great visibility, right on Highway 89. We will make sure that no lodging will block the beautiful view of the terrific old depot.” Grow said the Mt Pleasant site could eventually have as many as 15 rail cars.
He said they plan to incorporate several historic elements into the resort, but they have not yet determined if that will be in the setting of a small museum or as enhancements to the railroad cars themselves.
While some have suggested that the pair open a similar resort in Thistle in Utah County, Grow said that the Utah County planning department is not open to the idea.
“It would be like trying to push a river upstream,” he said.
MPNHA Director Monte Bona sees these two resorts as a first step to bringing about a railroad museum and interpretive center in the area, one of the goals of the MPNHA’s management plan.
“The Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area reached the high threshold for national designation by articulating the thesis that Mormon colonization played a major role in the development of the West. The coming of the railroad era had a signifi cant impact that needs to be interpreted, displayed and conveyed as a crucial part of the Mormon country story,” he said.
The railroad first came to the Sevier Valley in 1893 when the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad expanded its line from Chester to Manti , connecting it with its Valley Line at Thistle Junction via Mt. Pleasant and from Manti to Marysvale.
At its peak, the line ferried passengers to Richfield where tour companies would meet the train at Marysvale and take tourists to Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. For several decades it spurred economic growth in the area, especially in the livestock trade.
However, as automobiles grew in popularity, the railroad began to wane. In 1949, D&RGW dropped passenger service in the area. From then until the Thistle mudslide of 1982 shut down the line completely, the line primarily carried freight. Aft er the mudslide the D&RGW determined it would not be cost-effective to restore the line, which had been operating at a loss for decades.
Now, with the Environetics projects, railroad buff s and families will have a unique opportunity to experience a taste of the rich railroading history of the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area.
For more information, contact or MPNHA Director Monte Bona at 801-699-5065 or David Grow at 801-375-9090.
The Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area includes 400 miles of glorious scenic byways, a vast array of wildlife, the best of western living, cattle and sheep ranches, and colorful mountain vistas, all within a trip on Utah Heritage Highway 89
The Federal Land Management agencies, National Parks, National Park Service, Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the White House have joined together in a partnership to initiate the EVERY KID IN A PARK incentive. This program is designed to give every fourth grader and their families to visit all our country’s natural treasures. The history of our great country can engage each student to enjoy the beauty, culture, and enjoy the federal lands and waters free of charge.
This initiative began 01 September 2015 and ends on August 31, 2016. The free pass allows free access to the national forests, national parks, and national wildlife refuges, and so much more.
The National Park Foundation which is the nation’s official charity for the National Parks has been raising funds to work with connecting the fourth graders of our nation to have free access to all of public land and waters in America. A division of the Foundation’s Open Outdoors for Kids program, is designed to remove stumbling blocks for our fourth graders admission into the wonderlands of our natural parks and water ways. The Every Kid in a Park initiative has been designed for students in under served and urban communities. Due to the schools wide cutbacks in funding for grants for fields trips, the strategic funding will hopefully provide a learning experience for all fourth graders and their families.
The Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area is the only Federally recognized Heritage Area with three National Parks.
These are: Bryce Canyon National Park: Boulder Loop District
Capitol Reef National Park in the Boulder Loop District
Zion National Park: Under the Rim District.
Monte Bona, along with the collaborative efforts of talented professionals have given us an authentic view of those brave men, women and children who left their homes, family, wealth, and country to establish the communities in South Central Utah.
The powerful stories of the early settlers in the region that is now identified by the Congressional designation as the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area, are touching, informative, and compelling
These pioneers certainly left a legacy that illustrates a structure that was steeped in codes of conduct, traditions, and principles that everyone embraced for the sole purpose of succeeding in a somewhat hostile environment. Their stories come to life as you read of their inventiveness, cooperation, conscientiousness, and pure resilience. You will also be moved stories of with miracles that occurred..
Many may be interested to learn that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons were not the only secular group that assisted with the settling of Utah. Jewish settlements, and contributions of a Presbyterian Minister, were instrumental. There were great sacrifices, large doses of humility, and traditional morals that were all combined to make their efforts a true success.
I have a great appreciation for the time intensive work completed by Monte Bona that has gone into producing Legends, Lore and True Tales in Mormon Country (American Legends). It is commendable that such an undertaking has been made to tell their stories. What a great job he has done!
The pictures are an added bonus, they help to recreate the trials, tribulations and the triumphs of the early pioneers. Mr. Bona has done a tremendous job in compiling this must have book for those who seek to find their family history, and a great resource for future generations. Without a doubt this is a book that you will read, reread, share, and retell the stories, legends, lore and true tales to everyone. I highly recommend this book to all who seek the true tales in Mormon Country.
Bryce Canyon is another great National Park that has beauty beyond description, come experience the wonder during National Park Week.
Ebenezer Bryce, a Mormon pioneer assisted in the settlement of southwestern Utah and northern Arizona. He came to the area in 1875 to harvest timber and live. He settled behind what is now Bryce Canyon National Park, located in the southwestern part of the state of Utah. His neighbors would call the canyon behind his home “Bryce’s Canyon.” In 1928 it was given the designation of a state park. Bryce Canyon National Park is a small park, 56 square miles, by the standards of the National Parks.
What is famous about Bryce Canyon?
Bryce Canyon, with its acclaimed geology, countless colors of varying hues, and amphitheaters shaped as horseshoes, cut out the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southern Utah. With the power of nature the rainwater and the frost moisture dissolved to shape and affect the color of the limestone to create various shapes of “hoodoos,” slot canyons, windows, spires, and fins. The miraculous natural tinting of the stones and a power that is unexplanable, has colored and arranged capriciously the rocks to have created a wonderland landscape of mazes. Those that have taken a walk along this wonderland have experienced a memorable and exciting memory.
With the meadows located in the high elevations of the plateau, the foliage is abundant and the wildlife flourishes. The plateau has also been deemed as one of the world’s best air quality. The rim affords a panoramic view of approximately 200 miles in a three state radius. It is also known as one of the best stargazing locations due to a very small light sources.
The marvel of the “hoodoos” were described by the Paiutes as the “Legend People” that were turned to stone by Coyote. The geological term for “hoodoo” is a pillar of rock, usually fantastic shape, left by erosion. It is also known that “hoodoo” means to cast a spell.
Within the Bryce Canyon National Park, erosion has been created with the fun, whimsical “hoodoos.” Geologists have an answer, they state that millions of years ago whatever forces were present on Mother Earth, moved these cute enormous objects that were named Aquarius and Paunsaugunt Plateaus. Today, the rock layers of the Aquarius now reach 2,000 feet above the Paunsaugunt’s same layers.
The ancient rivers’ flow took to carving out the tops and formed the edges of the large rocks. Layers were removed and this brought about the chiseling and sculpted forms. This brought about the creation of the Paria Valley and then later caused the widening of the plateaus.
No matter what the cause, these wondrous shapes have certainly cast their spell for all that have ever visited, and those that wish to visit.
Come experience the beauty and wonder of this magnificent landscape that only exists in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Share your favorite story and photos, upload your photos on your social media #findyourpark #findyourstory.
|DATE 10/28/2005 11:38 AM|
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
This is part of an occasional series by the Sanpete Country Travel and Utah Heritage Highway 89 Alliance on the people and places along U.S. Highway 89.
New Loan Program Opens Doors for New B&B, Other Projects in Rural Utah
|The opening of the Slot Canyons Inn, a new bed and breakfast in Escalante, was a significant event on many fronts. Not only did it fulfill a life-long dream for owners Jeff and Joette Marie Rex, it’s also another indicator that Utah’s small towns are increasingly becoming tourist destinations. In addition, the new inn is an example of how a new, unique loan program is helping rural areas.
The Slot Canyons Inn was supported by the new “One-Doc” program, a simplified loan guarantee program designed to assist lenders making business and commercial loans in rural areas. It’s is financed through a combination of U.S. Department of Agriculture Funding, Utah Business Lending and the Five County Association of Government’s Revolving Loan Fund.
“This is an unusual pairing of three lenders on the front end of a project,” says Gordon Holt, president of the Utah Business Lending Corporation. The One-Doc program reduces some of the risk to make a rural loan because the USDA can guarantee loans up to 90 percent.
“It allow lenders to make more rural loans because the guarantees do not count against the lender’s lending limit,” Holt says. The loans are for construction of business buildings, business acquisitions, purchase of machinery and equipment, remodeling projects and working capital.
The Utah Heritage Highway 89 Alliance and Utah State Extension Service are working closely with Holt’s organization to identify businesses in Sanpete, Sevier, Piute, Wayne, Garfield and Kane Counties that might benefit from the program.
“In particular, this program will help Sen. Robert Bennett in his efforts to assist businesses along U.S. Highway 89 through the creation of a national Mormon Pioneer Heritage Area,” says Monte Bona, a member of the highway alliance. The designation would mean that the six counties involved would receive funds for projects designed to retain and enhance the area’s natural beauty and promote heritage tourism. Heritage tourism is known as one of the fastest-growing segment in the tourism industry in America.
The Slots Inn is a perfect example. The new bed and breakfast incorporates the area’s history, heritage and natural beauty. The Inn is surrounded by Monument, Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands. It’s 40 miles from Bryce Canyon, the Dixie National Forest is adjacent to the property, and the Aquarius Plateau, the highest plateau in North America, is located 17 miles above. Three major canyons, the Escalante River and North Creek also come together at the site. “We have wanted to develop this 160-acre parcel of land since we purchased it several years ago,” says owner Jeff Rex.
“We believe this spot is unique to Southern Utah and have chosen to build an eight-room Pueblo-style inn to fit with the significance of the site,” he says. A 110-year-old pioneer cabin built by Isaac Riddle and rebuilt in 1999 will also become part of the guest accommodations.
For more information about the loan program, contact Gordon Holt at Utah Business Lending, (801) 654-2213.
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