The historic site of Bluff Fort is tucked in between the red rock landscape in the southeastern corner of Utah. Previously developed by San Juan pioneers, the settlement is now a historic area that welcomes visitors around the world to learn more about the settlers in the late 1800s. Through a detailed rebuilt and restored development, guests are able to see the Bluff Fort at its original state. It is even complete with a collection of journals, biographies and stories of the determination of this group of people as they settled in the west. The mission of the Bluff Fort Historic Site is to preserve the historical legacy from the early pioneers in the late 1880’s at their establish community.
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A group of Mormon pioneers were sent out on an assignment from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1879-80 to establish settlements in Utah. Seventy families set on a long difficult journey, which historians regard as one of the most impressive wagon trips in North America. With the goal of establishing a mission at Montezuma, they began creating a route across some of the most rugged terrain in America. With their wagons they crossed over dangerous terrains such as the Colorado River gorge, mountains, deserts, forests, and deep ravines. Many of the sections were nearly impassable with a wagon, and much of the 260-mile long journey was spent making a road. After 6 months of travelling, the first settlement was created in 1880, which was less than 20 miles from the original destination of Montezuma Creek. However, the families stopped in the new location because of the lush farmland and named it Bluff City. They began building log cabins, and working the land, Bluff City was used as a place to establish law and order, and maintain a good relationship with the Navajo Indians. The colony remained for about a decade, yet most of the original families moved to the north to join ranching and farming in Monticello and Blanding. Today, Bluff City is a historical site that is open to visitors to learn about a great American pioneering story.
The historical legacy of Bluff Fort is available for the public currently, and the rebuilt community is an interesting and educational experience for visitors of all ages, and it is filled with information and visuals about these early settlers. The story of one of the great stories of settling in the west is told through re-created buildings that are filled with photos and antiques of the Mormon community. The community was created as a fort, allowing the colony to colony to defend themselves quickly.
There were between 38-63 cabins, a blacksmith shop, a Co-op story, and multipurpose meetinghouse used as a church, dance hall, and a school. The Co-op store was used for trading wool, pelts, blankets, and other supplies with the Navajo people. The profit from the Co-op store and the cattle business started by the residences of Bluff Fort helped the community economically. Yet, the extremely difficult weather conditions from the winter and the flooding from the San Juan River that damaged the irrigation system was reason for the residence to ask the church to be released from their mission. Only few families left, but the fort was only in use for 14 years and the re-created site is now filled with unique stories of some of the residences that previously lived there. Each cabin is furnished with antiques and has multi language buttons that give a further in-depth explanation about an aspect of the mission. In the main building, the Visitor’s Center, there are many visuals of early residences, a wagon, quilts hanging on the walls, and many works of art that were created by local artists. There is more to the fort than just information about the early pioneers, the Navajo culture is displayed through an authentic Hogan and a teepee that are on site. Aside from the indigenous culture, visitors are welcomed to dress in pioneer attire and go on a guided tour of the settlement. From there they can explore the interesting story of American pioneers, who were sent on a mission from the church to venture across Utah in the 19th Century. Their tale is now displayed in a historic site, and visitors have the opportunity to explore more about the preserved site, understand the San Juan Mission pioneers, and hear about their impossible journey.
550 I Ave, Black Locust, UT 84512, Phone: 435-672-9995