On October 12th, Governor Herbert came down to spend the day in San Juan County. He had a full schedule starting with a statewide address to high school students that was broadcasted from the Utah State University campus in Blanding. The next stop was at the Bluff Fort for the ground breaking of the co-op store that is expected to be completed in 2012. The new co-op will be a replica of the original building which was built not long after the Hole in the Rock Pioneers reached Bluff in the 1880s. Here are a few pictures of the original co-op…
In the early 1900s, the co-op was the heart of the community providing a means for buying, selling, and trading. Unfortunately, the co-op was blown up in 1925 during an attempted robbery. The robber, who is known by the alias of Fred Starr, used too much dynamite when attempting to break into the safe, and blew up both himself and the store.
The new Bluff Co-op will share the story of the Hole in the Rock Pioneers telling visitors how and why they came to the area, and what they experienced once they arrived in Bluff. It will also show visitors what what a co-op store of the 1880s was like.
The governor arrived at the Bluff Fort right on schedule and took some time to talk to the people who had come for the groundbreaking.
There was a great turn-out to the ground breaking, they even had to bring out more chairs to accommodate everyone! Some students from Bluff Elementary School even got to attend the ground breaking.
After the ground breaking lunch was served and Governor Herbert took some more time to talk with the people who had come for the ground breaking.
After lunch, Governor Herbert headed down to Whitehorse High School in Montezuma Creek, then back up to Blanding for a tour of the Blanding Visitor Center and Edge of the Cedars State Park. I met back up with the group at the Blanding Visitor Center and listened as local officials and visitor center staff took the governor through the museum part of the visitor center (Pioneer Museum) and told him a little bit of the history of the area.
After the tour of the Blanding Visitor Center was over, we all headed to Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum. I had thought that it was just for a tour of the museum, but when we arrived, the auditorium was full of local people who were there for a town hall type meeting with Governor Herbert. There was only time for about 4-5 people to address the governor, but rather than asking questions, most of them were there to show their support for Edge of the Cedars and to let the governor know how important it is to the local economy. The Utah State Parks have had a lot of budget cuts over the past couple years, and at the beginning of this year, Edge of the Cedars and a few other state parks were put on a list for possible closure.
It was really nice to see so many local people voicing their concerns and expressing to Governor Herbert how important the museum is to the residents of San Juan County. I’ve done several other blog entries on Edge of the Cedars, and I know I’ve mentioned it, but Edge of the Cedars is a federal repository that houses one of the largest collections of Ancestral Puebloan artifacts in the Four Corners area. Here’s a link to one of my blog entries that gives a little bit of the history of Edge of the Cedars.
After leaving Edge of the Cedars, the governor continued on to Monticello to tour Young’s Machine, a local company that manufactures underground mining equipment, before heading north to Moab. It was a great day and I think the governor got to see a lot of our county and hear from a lot of local people. At the ground breaking ceremony at the Bluff Fort, Governor Herbert said he’d be practicing his dance moves for the celebration when the Co-op Store is completed next year, so keep watching- I’ll definitely blog about it!