On January 26, 1880, after six months of blasting and chiseling, an expedition of 250 Mormon Pioneers with their wagons and livestock descended through a rocky crevice known as the Hole in the Rock to the Colorado River below (now Lake Powell). The 1,300 foot descent approaching 45 degrees could only be accomplished after widening the upper section with blasting powder, chiseling off high points in the dugway, creating anchor points directly into the sandstone for large ropes to hold back the wagons, and with pick and shovel building up a road bed at key points.
While the Hole in the Rock was a major obstacle, the over all journey from Escalante to Bluff, Utah was nearly 200 miles of the most forbidding area to travel. The region was strewn with broken rocky terrain with steep mountains and deep canyons. The trail was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
No pioneer company ever built a wagon road through wilder, rougher, more inhospitable country,” stated noted historian David Miller. “No one ever demonstrated more courage, faith, and devotion to a cause than this group.” They accomplished the seemingly impossible as they answered a call from President John Taylor to blaze a trail across some of the most rugged terrain in North America. The expedition is one of the great stories, not only in LDS Church history, but also in the history of the West.
The Mormon Historic Sites Foundation is pleased to work with the Hole in the Rock Foundation in reconstruction of the Co-op store/Visitor Center at the Bluff Fort to effectively tell the story of this faith promoting and epic event. The dedication of the rebuilt co-op store/visitors center was October 12, 2013 with Elder Marcus B. Nash of the Seventy and LDS Historical Department offering the dedicatory prayer.