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One of the rest areas along I-70 in the stretch that goes through the San Rafael Swell area.

Ghost Rock View Area (Westbound)

For my post about this section of Interstate 70 and links to the other rest areas on it visit this page.

The Sands of Time

As you stand here look around, the magnificent cliffs, canyons, knobs, and spires before you are mostly cut from the 190 million-year-old Navajo Sandstone formation. Imagine the winds that carried sand to this area and deposited it in sand dunes hundreds of feet high. As wind shifted the massive sand dunes, the sands were deposited in a whirl of layers. Buried over eons of geologic time, the sands ceased their movement and turned to stone. Water releases the grains of sand from the grip of stone. Even here in an arid climate, water is the prime agent sculpting the stone into canyons, arches, and pinnacles. You are near the center of the great anticline that is the San Rafael Swell. Here, the layers are nearly flat-lying. It is like a stone dome with the curved top worn away. Soon the layers will begin tilting gently to the west.

Outlaw Country

This is outlaw Country! Hidden deep in these canyons Butch Cassidy, Elza Lay, Flat Nose George, Kid Curry, Joe Walker and others eluded lawmen who pursued them in the late 1800s. In the 1850s, Cheif Walkara escaped into these badlands with as many as 1,400 horses stolen from ranchers in California. He came across the Spanish Trail, which takes its northernmost route through the San Rafael Swell. Spanish explorers forged the trail about 1800. Later it became a route for slave traders traveling between Santa Fe and the Great Basin. Native Americans were sold for as much as $200 each in Mexico City. Imagine what was in the minds of those prisoners as they traveled through this rugged country.

Lights On

The plumes you see on the northern horizon are proof that today, the lights are on in Utah. The Hunter Plant generates 1,240 megawatts of power at uses 4.5 millions tons of coal annually. The power plant is one of three generating facilities that lie in the rich low-sulfur coalfields of central Utah. Combined they provide 2,215 megawatts of power for users in Utah and California. Coal is extracted from large underground mines in the mountains you can see to the west. Once mined, the coal is crushed and then transported to the plant where it is washed and pulverized, making it burn hotter and more completely. The coal is fed into huge boilers that produce superheated steam, which powers the turbine that drives the electric generator. The electricity then leaves the plant on 345,000-volt transmition lines… and the lights come on.

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