Interstate 70 through Eastern Utah by Mark Sedenquist
Many road trip enthusiasts have a creed that goes something like this: "To see the REAL America you have to travel two-lane back roads." Well, I am going to let you in on a little secret -- one of my favorite back road drives is a six-lane Interstate highway in eastern Utah. I have driven back and forth on Interstate 70 between Cove Fort and Green River a dozen times in recent years -- three of those times while preparing this article -- and like all good roads, the more times I drive it, the more I learn. If I tried to relate all of the tall tales, amazing facts and history that I have soaked up about this truly astounding area of the country, this article would stretch to several hundred pages and look a lot more like a book. Instead, I am going to provide what I hope is a tantalizing overview and inspire you to go and check this one out for yourself.
Interstate 70 is "born" at mile marker 132 on Interstate 15 about 76 miles north of Cedar City, Utah. If you were to follow I-70 all the way to its eastern terminus you could take a cruise on the inner harbor at Baltimore, Maryland, a mere 2200 miles to the east. But mile marker 1 is the first place of interest along I-70. Only in Utah could one expect to be proselytized by a docent at a historic site, and if you have any issues with Mormon evangelism, you might wish to bypass it, but it is an interesting place. In the summer months the local population swells to include 60-80 couples who staff the park and lead the tours of the old fort. In the winter months, a small staff of six-eight couples handles this assignment. Cove Fort was a way station established in 1867 to provide support to Mormon families traveling between Nevada and Idaho. The main fort was constructed of blocks of limestone quarried nearby, and the restored structures house some interesting artifacts. If you go, check out the reconstructed hay-stacking winch and the collection of tools and implements for creating wooden wheels near the blacksmith's shop.
April 16, 2006