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Presenting Sponsor

Eclipse Festival

Discover San Juan County Excursions

Excursion I: Early Settlers Through Hole-in-the-Rock and Bluff Fort

(Limited to 30 participants)

Walk in the steps of the first pioneers from The Church  of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to reach this area. In  1879, when a group of settlers from the Church began  the now famous Hole-in-the-Rock expedition, the San  Juan region of southeastern Utah was one of the most  isolated parts of the United States. The rough and  broken country is characterized by sheer walled cliffs,  mesas, hills, washes, slickrock, cedar forests, and sand.  Certainly, the ruggedness of the country accounts  for its colonization coming so late in the Church’s  settlement effort. The Church’s need to improve  relations with the Indians, ensure Latter-day Saint  control of the area, open new farmlands for cultivation,  and build a springboard for future colonies to the east,  south, and north provided the impetus behind Church  President John Taylor’s “call” for colonizing a mission to  the San Juan.  

A total of 236 individuals from sixteen different  southwestern Utah villages formed the mission. The  majority were from three Iron County towns: Parowan,  Paragonah, and Cedar City. Ignoring other lengthy, but  well-established routes, leaders of the mission opted  to try a “short cut” by way of Escalante that would take  them through almost completely unexplored country.  The biggest obstacle along the chosen course was the  Colorado River. The scouts discovered the Hole-in-the Rock, a narrow slit in the west wall of Glen Canyon and  reported that a road could be built through it leading  down to the river.  

On January 26, 1880, about forty wagons were taken  through Hole-in-the-Rock. Even with Hole-in-the-Rock  behind them, the colonizers still faced many miles of  rugged terrain–primarily solid slickrock and mountains  cut by deep gulches—before reaching their destination.  The San Juan pioneers reached the present site of Bluff  in April, 1880 and set to work planting crops, digging  ditches, and establishing a new community. Hardships  aside, Bluff eventually spawned other colonies in the  region, including Verdure, Monticello, and Blanding.  These remote southeastern Utah communities owe the  ultimate credit for their existence to a tenacious group  of Hole-in-the-Rock pioneers. 

In addition, they built Bluff Fort. The grounds include  actual wagons and other artifacts from the Hole-in the-Rock journey, including the rebuilt log meeting  house, replicas of cabins, Ute and Navajo dwellings, the  ruins of the Kumen Jones home, and the original Bluff  Relief Society building. 

During this excursion you will hear from experts who  will share the story of Hole-in-the-Rock colonizers as  well as walk the paths walked by those early pioneers.  (source: Allan Kent Powell, “The Hole-in-the-Rock Trail  a Century Later”)

Thank You to our Generous Sponsors!

Presenting Sponsor

Moab Music Festival Concert Sponsor
     The Good Fund

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