History of Capitol Reef, Utah
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Capitol Reef National Park is mainly in Wayne and Garfield counties, however, a small portion at it's northern border is also found in both Sevier and Emery counties. From there it extends south along the 100-mile long (160 km) Waterpocket Fold, a geological up thrust, to Lake Powell's Bullfrog and Halls Crossing.

The old town of Fruita, on US-24, is located at the confluence of the Fremont River and Sulphur Creek within the park. A small one-room schoolhouse, an old cottonwood tree and hundreds of fruit trees are still found in the town. In 1937 Fruita was absorbed into the newly created Capitol Reef National Monument.

The area known in the 1920s as The Wayne Wonderland, was elevated to national park status in 1971. Massive, rounded rock formations that resemble the domes of federal buildings, inspired the name "Capitol". The word "Reef" was coined by sailors during the Australian gold rush because the Waterpocked cliffs reminded them of reefs found in the seas.

Navajo Sandstone found throughout the park can be seen in the golden-white domes. The hard, red-orange Wingate Sandstone fractures to form sheer, vertical cliffs. The soft gray-green layers of the Chincle Formation wear away into slopes.

The Fremont Indians 1,000 years ago left behind figures of humans and animals which they pecked into the faces of cliffs. The Fremont are the ancestral clans of the Hopi and Zuni who see these markings as the historical and spiritual legacy of the modern Indian peoples.

Novelist Zane Grey was inspired by the indian ruins and the beauty of this area and on occasion referred to this location in his books.

Butch Cassidy and others sought refuge in this isolated area. Nearby towns are Torrey, Teasdale and Bicknell.

One of the great natural bridges, Hickman Bridge, is found in the park.

See: Utah Place Names 1997, John W. Van Cott; Capitol Reef National Park.

G. William Wiersdorf

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