|This interpretive panel at Ghost Rock gives some outlaw history of the Swell.|
A long awaited project was recently finished on the I-70 corridor which bisects the San Rafael Swell. In a ceremony on Oct. 28 at Ghost Rock the project was officially dedicated, this project included the installation of interpretive panels on native rock pedastals at scenic overlooks along the Swell. The overlooks were previously identified with a sign which said view area, but did not include the name of the spot. Now if you are traveling along I-70 and come to Ghost Rock it will say Ghost Rock or Salt Wash and many others are now identified by name.
The project has been a joint effort by the Emery County Economic Development Department, the Emery County Road Department, the Utah Division of State History, UDOT and the BLM. Grant money was sought and found by former Economic Development Director, Rosann Fillmore. Kathleen Truman fromUtah Division of Travel Development was also instrumental in securing funds for this project.
The project is designed to enhance the travelers experience as he travels the I-70 corridor. For people traveling the area for the first time that are unfamiliar with the landscape and history of the Swell will know have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the area. Marlin Eldred, economic development director, said the panels tell a three part story; one plate deals with the heritage of the area and the colonization; the second plate deals with the Swell itself and natural history; the third plate is for tourist information and maps of Emery County leading visitors into the communities so they can stay and play or plan a future visit.
Each of the panels at each of the sites are different and distinct. A visitor stopping at each place will experience in detail what Emery County is all about. The rich history of the Swasey Brothers is retold as well as outlaw history detailing Butch Cassidy and his escapades into the Swell. The colonization of Emery County is relived in the call by Brigham Young to inhabit the area known as the Castle Valley.
One panel describes the rich mining heritage of the Swell and another describes the Native American culture and the rock art they left behind. Many descriptions of modern day Emery County and the power plants and coal mines are also part of the panels. "We want to promote educational information about Emery County. Jim Peters from Interpretive Graphics designed the signs. Lee Madsen from Wall Contractors built the pedastals and installed the signs. Rex Funk and people from the road department gathered the rocks for the pedastals. Many people contributed the information and photographs for each panel. This project has been a tremendous effort," said Eldred.
|Economic Development Director, Marlin Eldred, distributes tourist information concerning the new interpretive panels to out of state visitors.|
Emery County Commissioner Gary Kofford spoke at the dedication program as well as Bevan Wilson, UDOT representative. Wilson was very pleased with the new signage; "Now people will know what they are seeing." Wilson also encouraged the county to look for other projects where available funding could be used. Applications need to be filled out and returned to UDOT by Dec. 10. Wilson called these funds, enhancement funds and said the final say on projects comes from the transportation commission. It is not a grant program and counties involved in such enhancement projects contribute either monetarily or with inkind contributions. The program is budgeted through the years 2004-05. Trails, historical sites and other projects are eligible for such funds and the money can be used in a variety of ways.
Kent Petersen and Mont Swasey added to the program with a touch of cowboy poetry Emery County style. Swasey told the story of Joe and Chris and their attempts to tame a bobcat who wasn't too cooperative in the matter. The story was good for a laugh and then the audience sampled a dutch oven lunch.
In the time it took to have a short program and lunch, many visitors from all across the country had stopped at the Ghost Rock view area and were reading and enjoying the new information. Ken and Marge Strong were two such visitors who hailed from Canada and were driving across America. They expressed appreciation for the panels and the information they contained. Another couple, Gary and Pam Veeder from Pleasant Valley, N. Y. were just cruising, "We're just out for a drive. We came from Pleasant Valley, N. Y. which is the home of FDR in Dutches County. We have traveled some 2,500 miles so far. This country is beautiful and on our last trip we visited Southern Utah," said Veeder.
Visitors are out there, they are traveling I-70 and leaving the county at 75 miles an hour. These interpretive panels are just the beginning of an invitation Emery County is extending to visitors to stop and visit for awhile.