On our way back to Southern California to complete our near-week long stay in Utah we happened on a stop between Fillmore and Beaver which is essentially…in the middle of nowhere. A beautiful nowhere, but a nowhere nonetheless. In fact I’d like to tell you the name of the city it’s just that there isn’t one.
It was, however, the exit that leads to Cove Fort, a military fort built in 1867 by Mormons to protect against hostilities with Native Americans living in the area when relations had soured for a season.
I had seen the big sign on Interstate 15 many times. Cove Fort has been open as a historic site complete with tours since around 1995 but I had never stopped. I try to think of myself as one who is not overly possessed by getting to my destination on long trips. Just mildly possessed.
In any event we had already stopped and I decided what is one hour in the scheme of things. Live in the present, right?
I’m so glad we made the stop, I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and the opportunity to see the place.
Having seen the Church’s biography of President Gordon Hinckley after he became prophet in 1995, I knew that President Hinckley’s paternal grandfather had built the fort and had even seen the fort in the video. But as is common for the church, the tour conducted by the senior missionaries was full of historical information. I was amazed to take a small glance into the lives of these individuals living in a remote location in the last half of the 19th century. Life then is such a contrast to our lives today of comfort and convenience.
I came away from the place with the realization that life was work in those times. It seemed if they wanted anything there was a price of work to be paid. NOTHING came easy. Eating, traveling, getting clothing, going to the bathroom. It was all work.
I wondered what I would be like if I lived at Cove Fort in 1870?
In one room the senior sister missionary pointed to a woven sheet that was used to hold straw as a mattress. She explained when the fabric had worn out they would take the good parts and sew them into pants and pointed to a pair of pants made from the same fabric hanging nearby. When the pants would wear out they would cut the fabric into strips and make a door mat. When that would wear out they would burn the mat and get lye..and then make it into soap. The economist in me tried to appreciate the scarcity of their resources that lead them to maximize the usefulness of what they had. If something had value, any value, the last thing they would ever do is discard it until they had extracted that value.
So if you have an hour on your journey along I-15 some day see if you can stop and see Cove Fort.
Seeing that the fort is 4 feet thick at its base (and 2 feet thick at the top) it will still be there the next time you pass by.