Historic Mormon site to reopen

Published: Thursday, Oct. 10 2013 2:20 p.m. MDT

BLUFF, San Juan County — An historic Mormon landmark is reopening in southeastern Utah.

The newly redeveloped Bluff Co-op Store and Visitor Center in San Juan County is now open again. The two-story dormered building was originally completed in 1899 when the residents of Bluff held their first holiday dance, according to Jens Neilson, first bishop of Bluff.

On July 19, 1925, a newly hired employee placed sticks of dynamite next to the store safe, then stayed to watch the explosion. The ensuing blast was the demise of the store and Fred Starr as well.

The recently completed new building today houses a state-of-the-art, audio-visual presentation chronicling the site’s history and turn of the century co-op general store. In the new layout, visitors learn the history about the Hole in the Rock expedition via a video presentation.

“Bluff’s new center allows visitors to learn the rich history of the Mormons' Hole in the Rock passage through an interactive experience,” said Grant Taylor, Hole in the Rock board member. “The center’s facelift will preserve the past while adding modern conveniences for our growing audience.”

To commemorate the reopening, a dinner with live entertainment is planned for Friday night. On Saturday, events include a pioneer breakfast followed by the official dedication at 10:30 a.m.

Bluff City was established in 1880 by Mormon pioneers called to colonize the San Juan River area of southeastern Utah. To reach their destination, the settlers completed an arduous 180-mile, five-month winter trek across rugged terrain that became known as the Hole in the Rock Trail.

In addition to the site’s history, visitors will see two famous rock formations — Locomotive Rock and Twin Rocks — on either side of the bluffs. Locomotive Rock was named due to its likeness to a train engine, while Twin Rocks symbolizes the Navajo Twins of the Navajo creation tradition.

Email: jlee@deseretnews.com, Twitter: JasenLee1

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