Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Living In History

  If you were to stop what you are doing right now and took a moment to study your surrounding what would you see? Would you see a desk filled with paperwork awaiting your attention? Perhaps you would be staring at rows of houses slammed together on tiny lots with matching colors and styles and covering the landscape as far as you can see. Now look deeper. Try to picture your location without the desk and the paperwork. Think of a time before those houses were built. What do you think you would see then?
  This may be obvious but during each moment of our lives history is being written. Some moments will live in our memories forever such as Armstrong walking on the moon or that time you tripped walking up the stairs when that cute guy or gal was next to you. Okay some things we are better off forgetting but what I'm trying to get at is if you can look past all the "noise" that surrounds us on a daily bases you can actually find something special.
  In a remote canyon in central Utah lies what is Nine Mile Canyon. Don't let the name fool you especially since I kind of just mentioned that it is forty miles long so don't forget to bring a lunch and leave early because this trip will take you all day. In this canyon you will be able to get up close and personal with thousands of petroglyphs (nearly 10,000 individual petroglyphs from what my research has turned up.) In case you don't know what petroglyphs are, here is a photograph. Okay, basically
they are ancient carvings in rock but
the fact that they were carved by people (the Freemont and Ute Indians) hundreds of years ago is pretty cool. Rock art like these can be found all over the state of Utah but there isn't another place around with a concentration of them like there is in this canyon. There are over 1,000 documented sites and more are being discovered each year. Some of their locations haven't even been shared with the public yet. With so many sites to visit it's no wonder this place is called "the world's longest art gallery."
  If you have a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope you will have an opportunity to see some old ruins built during the same time period. We found one of these to be a little difficult to find but once you see them you'll be glad you did. They look like a stack of rocks but it's still neat to think of how long they have stood. I doubt any of the homes we live in today will stand for 800 years. Along with the ruins and the petroglyphs you will also find some pictographs. Pictographs? What are those? Oh, they are painted version of petroglyphs but even more fragile due to the fact that they were created by using dye made from plants.
  The road had been unpaved until a few years ago when a deal was reached with the Bill Barrett Corporation that primarily uses the road to access their natural gas mine deep in the canyon. The company actually had the road paved to keep down the dust that large trucks kicked up as they came and went that was found to be damaging the rock art. So you can thank them for the easy drive you will experience especially if it's raining as it did on the day that we visited.
  Speaking of the road. The road through the canyon was originally built in 1886 by the 9th Cavalry Regiment to connect the city of Price north to Fort Duchesne. This was an African American regiment and the soldiers were referred to  as Buffalo Soldiers. These fellas were mainly the security of the western part of the country defending settlers from Indian attacks, Mexican encroachment, and your basic criminal elements. Early on the Mormon settlers were afraid of these soldiers but soon grew to love and appreciate their efforts. The 9th Cavalry Regiment is still around today and their history is worth reading about.

The Great Hunt Panel
 Cottonwood Glenn is the only picnic site in the area and has a pavilion and toilets for your use. A small cabin and some smaller structures located here hint at the farming history of the canyon. There is also a commercial campground in the canyon at Nine Mile Ranch which has camp sites and cabins if you'd like to stay in the canyon a bit longer.
  Whew! There's so much to mention about this canyon but I don't need to bore you with my ramblings about it. You should just go visit yourself. So what do you need to get the most out of your visit. First make sure you bring along a lunch and your own water. Once you enter the canyon you are on your own. Second, because you are on your own make sure to top off your gas tank at the gas station where you will turning to enter the canyon. It's a nice place. We stop there every time we head to Moab to stretch our legs and grab a snack. Grab a set of binoculars and your best camera. You can walk up to many of  the petroglyphs but some will have to be viewed with some type of magnification. And don't forget to dress for the weather. Yes it's the desert so it can be hot in the summer but take it from me you can find yourself in a cool, wet storm in a hurry. Be prepared. 
  Okay, now you know that you can walk/drive through 1,000 years of history and actually see it. Ancient writings, historic roads, old farms and modern mining await your visit. You also know what you should take with you so I guess you need to know how to get there. From Price, Utah you will take Highway 6/191 west to Wellington. Once in Wellington you'll be looking for the Chevron station (it used to be called Walker's but it now has a new name. There is a sign in the parking lot that talks about the canyon. Take Soldier Creek Road north into the canyon. You can explore and come back the way you came or you can take the road all the way to Myton and head to Salt Lake from there. 
  Well there it is, Nine Mile Canyon. I'm sure I didn't do this place justice. It really is a neat place to visit and not nearly as boring as this narrative makes it out to be (although it is quiet.) If you get the opportunity I encourage you to visit this location I don't think you'll regret it. See you on Friday!

Brandan 

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