December 5, 2022

Capitol Reef National Park’s Pioneer History

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Capitol Reef National Park is rich with Latter-Day Saint Pioneer history. It has beautiful sites to see, along with some fun history lessons as you visit! The towns around the area and the canyon itself is worth the trip. It is like you are right back in the early days of Utah, you are able to picture what it would have been like to be the first explorers and the first homesteaders hundreds of years ago.

The story of the Latter-Day Saints living in the Capitol Reef area started in 1872, when the Saints started a community in the Wayne County area. There is a pioneer name registry on the wall of the Capitol George Hike. Mormon pioneers took eight days in 1884 to clear the path through Capitol Gorge, and used the register as a way to record their passage. Here is a link that goes into more details on how to find the registry in Capitol Reef:

Capitol Reef Pioneer Beginnings

There were early pioneers settlers that knew how special the Capitol Reef area is, and worked to preserve it. There was one man named Ephraim Portman Pectol who worked hard to make sure the area was preserved and protected. Ephraim and his brother-in-law Joseph S. Hickman organized the ”Wayne Wonderland Club,” that helped protect and preserve the area of Capital Reef.

Joseph Hickman was elected to the Utah State Legislature and designated 16 acres of land around the community of Fruita as a state park in 1926. Then, in 1937, the president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt made the Capitol Reef protected area larger and made it a National Monument. It was not until 1971 that Capitol Reef became a National Park.

Pioneer Sites Inside Capitol Reef National Park

Some other Latter-Day Saint Pioneer Sites that you will be able to see in Capital Reef are Historic Gifford House, Torrey Log School and Church, Morrell Cabin, Nielson Grist Mill, Wolverton Mill. You can read about each of these historic attractions on the Capital Reef website.

Pioneer Sites Around Capitol Reef

Teasdale, Utah is one of the closest towns to Capitol Reef National Park. It was named after an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, George Teasdale.


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