Thursday, December 8, 2016

When Utah's Steepest State Road, Highway 143, was forged: 1933-1934

                          Today's Highway 143.                                              Photo by Ravell Call.

By Lynn Arave
THE steepest state highway in Utah, U-43, from Parowan to Cedar Breaks, was forged during heavy construction efforts, mainly in 1933-1934.
According to the Garfield County News of Aug. 10, 1934, the road was fully open by that time, as part of a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Camp effort.
This road has a 13 percent maximum grade and tops out at 10, 567 feet above sea level. (Most Interstate Highways only have a 6 percent maximum grade.) The winding road will provide a rugged workout for any vehicle's brakes/engines.
The Garfield County News had reported  on Aug. 25, 1933, that the road was originally known as "The Bowerly Road" and that its importance was connecting with the Duck Creek-Cedar Mountain Road (today's Highway 14).

               The rugged terrain around the Brian Head area and Highway 143.
                                                                              Photo by Ravell Call.

The newspaper also outlined some of the challenges with creating the steep, 18-mile-long path: at one point it was required to make a n 80-foot deep by 1,000-foot long cut through solid rock.
The final pioneer way on the adjacent Highway 14, from Cedar City, past Navajo Lake, and to Long Valley Junction, was done in the early 1930s, with most of the effort done by the fall of 1932, according to the Garfield County News of Sept. 2, 1932.
This road construction also provided much needed paid employment to area men, jobless during the Great Depression of that era.
In fact, the U.S. Forest Service hired men for just two weeks at a time for the project during 1932, so that additional men could also gain temporary employment for two weeks at a time, as well.    

Note: This area was devastated by a massive forest fire in 2017.

                              Highway 143                                            Photo by Ravell Call.

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