By Lynn Arave
FOUR Corners is a popular tourist destination today, but just over a century ago it was still an emerging novelty, yet a very remote spot to visit.
As the junction where the four corners of four states – Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona – meet, this place is unique in America.
In 4 states at the same time!
“A Geographical Novelty” was a Feb. 28, 1902 headline in the Coalville Times Newspaper. This article stated that even world-wide, there was not a similar place where four counties met at such a junction.
The Salt Lake Herald Newspaper on Aug. 13, 1902 stated that the Four Corners was located in the midst of desert. Grass for stock was sparse in the area. A Herald article on Sept. 11, 1902 also explained how many Navajos were starving in the Four Corners region, with food shortages.
Even today, it is barren land around the Four Corners.
The Logan Republican Newspaper of June 8, 1904 said the first shaft type monument had recently been erected at the Four Corners. However, access to the remote place was still difficult, with Mancos, Colorado, some 100 miles distant, being the nearest railroad town to the Four Corners.
-Still another remote area in southeastern Utah of old was Monument Valley. First referred to in its early days as “Monumental Valley,” (Salt Lake Herald Newspaper of Nov. 1, 1908), it was later referenced as “Monumental Park” too.
The Salt Lake Tribune of Sept. 5, 1915 stated that it required a week of travel from Salt Lake City at that time to even reach the remote location. It was two years later before the first talk of making a regular road to reach the place happened.
-The Henry Mountains further north are another mysterious Utah place. It is often stated that these mountains were among the last to be named ranges in the entire United States.
The first newspaper reference to the Henry Mountains appeared in the Salt Lake Herald of June 18, 1875.
The Henry Mountains were also among the last places to be mapped too. The Richfield Reaper Newspaper of Dec. 30, 1937 stated that the first geological maps of the Henry Mountains were made in 1937.
-Some features in Zion National Park DON’T have the same names they originally had. Back when the place was sometimes referred to as “Little Zion,” a few titles were different.
The big curve in Zion Canyon, near the former "Raspberry Bend."
For example, a story in the Ephraim Herald Newspaper of Nov. 22, 1919 included an early map of Zion Canyon.
The sharp curve in the canyon just past Weeping Rock was originally called “Raspberry Bend.”
Also, Native American “cliff dwellings” were listed on that map in the Weeping Rock area. These are not marked on maps today. “Mummy Cave” was also nearby and according to the newspaper article was where petrified mummies of early cliff dwellers here were found – several hundred feet above the valley floor.
In addition, what is called the Great White Throne today had an alternate name in the early 20th Century -- “El Gobernador.”
Plus, today’s “Grotto” area was originally named “Wylie Camp,” a rustic hotel, established in 1917.
Looking north to St. George and the Pine Valley Mountains.
-The Pine Valley Mountains, north of St. George, are the highest elevations in southwestern Utah. A May 3, 1935 article in the Parowan Times Newspaper stated that the original name for the mountains as “Kaib-a-harur” – meaning “Mountain Standing Still.”
By 1935 there were already elaborate trails in these mountains, which assisted hiking and horseback trips, as well as hunters.
The Washington County Newspaper of June 17, 1926 stated that from “Signal Point,” the highest place in the Pine Valley Mountains at 10,300 feet, “one may from the same spot and with the aid of field glasses, witness people living in snowbound valleys to the north; see men hauling wood on bob-sleds; watch boys skating and observe gangs of men cutting and hauling natural ice 2- inches in thickness. Without moving a step but simply by turning the telescope of the south, one may see children in summer frocks, ladies picking roses from lawns and all classes of gardening in full summer sway.”
That was obviously referring to the elevation difference between Cedar City (5,850 feet above sea level) and St. George (elevation 2,800 feet).
-“Vermillion Castle,” northeast of Parowan was so named in May of 1935. According to the Parowan Times Newspaper of May 17, 1935, Simon A. Matheson won a $5 prize for calling the forest campground there “Vermillion” in a Parowan Chamber of Commerce contest. He cited the “castle-like cliffs” as the inspiration for the title.
Previously, the area had been called “Five Mile.”
The road to Vermillion was first oiled in the late 1930s. Heavy rains washed out the road as recently as August 8, 1963.