Cedar Breaks Part II

The clash between the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service over Cedar Breaks was rooted in a rivalry born from differing ideas of land use and competition for resources. In 1917, Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, had called the southern Utah region an “all year round resort” and began working to develop the area as an integral part of the nation’s new national park system.

NPS officials visiting Cedar Breaks.

NPS officials visiting Cedar Breaks.

Mather had spent years cultivating the American business and tourist community and by the mid 1920’s had built a powerful support network, especially with the railroad industry. Mather planned to link the development of National Parks to the accessibility of the railroads, and the sparsely populated Southern Utah region provided an excellent opportunity to establish these links.

By 1931, services or concessions at Zion Park, Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon were actively part of the Utah Parks Company, a subsidiary of Union Pacific that brought visitors by rail to Cedar City and then by bus to the parks.  Mather’s successor Horace Albright felt the time was right to acquire Cedar Breaks as a protected area. Due to the stunning pink cliff formations and the large natural amphitheater, Albright argued that Cedar Breaks had enough scenic merit to be included in the National Park system and that the area would be so small that it would not affect the local livestock industry who used the meadows of Cedar Mountain for grazing. The Forest Service disagreed.

Charged with protecting the resources of the nation’s forests, the Forest Service administered the land around Cedar Breaks for multiple uses and felt threatened by the request of the Park Service.  Afraid that grazing rights would be limited, the Utah Woolgrowers Association and Associated Civic Clubs of Southern Utah petitioned their elected representatives to oppose any legislation creating a national monument at Cedar Breaks.

The Park Service argued that by adding Cedar Breaks to the national park system, Cedar City businesses would gain a huge economic benefit. However, due to a lack of support for the proposal in the local community, the idea for the addition of Cedar Breaks was put on hold.

Cedar Breaks visitors

Cedar Breaks visitors

Visitation at Cedar Breaks continued to increase and the Park Service decided to try and acquire the area again. Albright argued that the visiting public already thought the Park Service administered the site because of its inclusion in the Zion – Bryce Canyon scenic loop. He wrote to Chief Forester Robert Stuart; “If the Cedar Breaks area is most valuable to the pubic because of timber or grazing resources, administration would naturally come under the Forest Service. However, this area is scenic rather than industrially useful . . . and the public should be afforded a unified educational service such as the Park Service is equipped to supply.” Stuart agreed and against the advice of his field staff he withdrew his objections.

Early entrance to Cedar Breaks.

Early entrance to Cedar Breaks.

UPC bus during the dedication of Cedar Breaks

UPC bus during the dedication of Cedar Breaks

On August 22, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt established the Cedar Breaks National Monument and charged the National Park Service with its administration. More about the Utah Parks Company and Cedar Breaks next week.

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Cedar Breaks- Part I

The first anglo settlers of the Cedar Breaks region used the fertile meadows for grazing their sheep and cattle and the large stands of evergreens for lumbering. Many of these families came from the British Isles and the area soon became known as Little Ireland.  These families worked and lived together cooperatively establishing a thriving dairy operation.  Each housewife took one day to take the morning and evening milk and make one batch of cheese.  During the course of the summer, the women could produce 2000 pounds of cheese, which would be transported to San Francisco for sale.

Taking a chance at the Breaks

Taking a chance at the Breaks

As the knowledge of the spectacular scenery of southern Utah began to spread early in the 20th century, tourist camps were developed in the Zion and Bryce Canyon regions of the state. Although the beauty of Cedar Breaks was widely known, access proved to be very difficult. The terrain of Cedar Mountain was a challenge for the horses and wagons, but nearly impossible for the automobile. The first car reached the area via the wagon road up Parowan Canyon in 1919.

Cedar City residents Gronway Parry and Frank Seaman lobbied the Utah Department of Transportation to construct a road connecting Cedar City to the major north/south Highway 89 via Cedar Canyon. The state refused and in 1922 Parry and Seaman decided to take matters in their own hands.

Early Cedar Breaks Road

Early Cedar Breaks Road

Taking their wives, and Gronway’s car, Parry and Seaman began to blaze a trail through Cedar Canyon and over the mountain. Clearing away rocks, trees, and brush they slowly carved a road that would become State Highway 14. Once convinced that a road could actually be constructed, the State of Utah got involved and completed the project, and in 1923 cut a dirt road from the Midway point into Cedar Breaks.

Many families from Parowan summered in Little Ireland and in 1921 Charles Adams built a crudely constructed boarding house to provide workers with shelter and food. He placed his married daughter Minnie Adams Burton in charge and the structure became known as “Minnie’s Mansion.” The “Mansion” had a large dance floor and a kitchen and dining room in the rear. “Minnie’s Mansion” soon became the summer social center for the citizens of Parowan.  Some came by wagon or on horseback to enjoy a Saturday night dance with a local band providing the entertainment.  Rodeos and summer holidays were also popular in the cool mountain surroundings, sometimes with fireworks set off over the Breaks.

As the residents of Iron County began to promote their local tourist spots, the Federal government developed an interest in the area. Tensions between the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service had been growing throughout the 1920’s and centered upon differing ideas of land use and management.

Early motor tours to Cedar Breaks.

Early motor tours to Cedar Breaks.

The Forest Service adopted a multiple use approach that managed the land for its resources – wood, water, and grass as well as wildlife habitat and recreation. The Park Service viewed itself as the nation’s foremost custodian of American heritage – mandated by Congress to preserve, protect, and provide visitor services.  Both of these agencies, with overlapping missions and constituencies competed for land and resources and Cedar Breaks was caught in the middle. The story continues next week.

Frontier Folk Festival

FF option6

Frontier Folk Festival

Frontier Homestead State Park Museum and The Frontier Homestead Museum Foundation are pleased to bring the first annual Frontier Folk Festival to Cedar City, Utah, June 17-18, 11 am – 8 pm each day. The Festival will be held on the grounds of the museum located at 635 North Main Street. Admission is $1.00 per person.

Original art, live music, traditional craft demonstrations, and a horseshoe tournament combine to celebrate the diverse heritage of southern Utah.  The Frontier Folk Festival promises to be filled with remarkable talent.  Featured bands include Stillhouse Road, Wilhelm, The Red Hill Rangers, Hen Hao Fiddlers, The Sonoran Dogs, and Marty Warburton and Homegirls.

The Sonoran Dogs are one of the many groups playing the Festival.

The Sonoran Dogs are one of the many groups playing the Festival.

For horseshoe enthusiasts, the tournament will take place on Saturday, with Junior level (under 14) starting at 11:00 a.m., and Adult level (14 and up) beginning at 1:00 p.m.  Prizes will be awarded for first and second places.

“We’ve been talking about this idea for years,” says Todd Prince, Frontier Homestead Park Manager.  “Working with our Museum Foundation, we finally decided to take the leap and offer a new experience to the community and all our patrons.  It will be a great event for anyone attracted to history, the visual arts and folk music.”  Festival Coordinator, Sandi Levy, added, “The Foundation is simply thrilled to offer this family friendly experience to the community.  It is a golden opportunity for us all to experience our heritage!”

Corn broom maker Marie Jagger will be one of the many Festival vendors.

Corn broom maker Marie Jagger will be one of the many Festival vendors.

We are looking forward to a diverse, high quality experience, with all our exhibiting artists, musicians, demonstrators and food purveyors. The Frontier Folk Festival will have something for everyone and we are excited to continue the local tradition of bringing the arts in all of their forms to Cedar City, Iron County, and beyond.

For more information and to see a full list of artists, musicians, and sponsors visit frontierhomestead.org or click on the link below:

Frontier Folk Festival

Artifact Spotlight: The Parry Stagecoach

One of the most exciting pieces in our collection is our Wells Fargo Stagecoach. The coach, made in the Concord style was crafted by Gronway Parry, whose restored wagons and farm equipment formed the bulk of our collection in 1973 when the museum opened. Parry built the stagecoach in the 1950’s and it has been used in parades, movies, and television.

The Parry Stagecoach

The Parry Stagecoach

The original Concord coach was made by the Abbott Downing Co. of Concord NH.  The body was suspended on heavy leather through braces.  Front, rear and center seats drop down to carry 9 passengers inside.  On top it would carry the driver and 2 others.  On a short run, it could carry 12 people on top.  It weighed 2500 lbs. And cost $1200 to $1500 delivered.

The Front Boot was a storage compartment below the driver’s seat.  It usually held the mail and the treasure box.  The Rear Boot was storage for freight packages, express items and passengers’ baggage.  Overflow packages went in the passenger compartment on the floor.  The 1864 coach was just under 8 ft. long and 5 ft. wide.  Each passenger had about 15 inches of space.  It had leather curtains in lieu of glass.  Curtains were less hazardous, absorbed the dust better as well as the wind, rain and snow.

A loaded stage.

A loaded stage.

The average speed was 8 MPH.  About every 12-14 miles (about every 1.5 hours) they stopped at a relay or swing station to change the team.  A suitable run for horses and mules was 12-13 miles at a time.  About every 50 miles they would stop at a home station to change teams and drivers.  The stops at a home station would last a little longer.

Passengers slept while riding, sitting up.  If they slept at a home station, it would be on the floor.  Women might be able to share the home station agent’s wife’s bed, if she was willing to give it up.  Freight wagon trains would take 5 weeks from Atchison to Denver.  A stagecoach would make the same distance in 6 days.

The stations between SLC and CA were difficult to supply.  Water often had to be hauled great distances.  At some stations there was no wood, which had to be cut and hauled in. Crops could not be grown—the land was arid with little rainfall.  Meals at the home stations cost 50 cents.  The price of such meals was not included in the price of the passage, but had to be paid for with good, hard cash. The fare from SLC to San Francisco was $200 per person.  Passengers were allowed 25 lbs of baggage on their ticket cost.  Each pound over that was charged an extra dollar.

A lonesome stage stop.

A lonesome stage stop.

There was a perpetual cloud of dust about the coach.  It penetrated the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hair and clothes.  Mark Twain bathed once in his 1818 mile, 20 day trip from St. Joesph to Reno in 1861 and that was done in a stream.  Most travelers did not bathe.  An uneventful trip would leave passengers physically exhausted.  One traveler said, “The hardest 2 weeks’ work I ever did.”  And then he stumbled off to a solid 20 hours in bed.

Two museum travelers in their time machine.

Two museum travelers in their time machine.

The Parry coach is the only replica in our collection. We invite our visitors to climb about and imagine themselves on their own stage journey across the West.

National Geographic comes to Cedar City

Angels Landing

Angels Landing

“Utah blazes with color.” This sentence opens the May 1936 article in National Geographic “Utah, Carved by Winds and Waters.”In early 1936, writer Leo A. Borah visited southern Utah and toured with local tourism booster Randall L. Jones. Thanks to local Cedar City resident Scott Truman, who recently donated this issue to the museum, we now have access to this forgotten piece of writing.  Borah notes many unique features of our community, especially the golf course:

“Cedar City, gateway to the southern Utah parks, has a golf course which symbolizes the Utah pioneer spirit. Several miles from town it lies, in an arid valley crowded by craggy hills. Its ‘greens’ are a mixture of sand, sawdust, and oil; its teeing places bristle doormats set in wooden frames; its fairways barren stretches from which sagebrush has been laboriously dug.

Randall Jones and I went out to the course with a club member, who explained with a chuckle as we jounced over the rough trail from the highway to the links that the jolts were ‘warming-up’ exercises for the game. In front of the ‘shake’ clubhouse beside a clump of scraggly juniper trees an iron mine owner and a West Point cadet were toiling in the hot sun to set an additional doormat for teeing.

The sand, sawdust, and oil putting "green"

The sand, sawdust, and oil putting “green”

The course lacks nothing in ‘rough.’ As if the hazards of cliffs, gullies, sagebrush, and thickets were not sufficient, there is an occasional rattlesnake for the player to kill with his club, or an inquisitive deer to chase out of the way with his shots.  That wild valley looks as little like a possible place for a golf course as the trackless desert the pioneers settled looked like farmland.”

Following is a sampling of the many photos from the article:

The rock church

The rock church

 

The aspens of Cedar Mountain

The aspens of Cedar Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zion singaway

Zion singaway

A 1936 Cedar Breaks view

A 1936 Cedar Breaks view