During the Meeker (Colorado) Incident of September 1879, provoked and infuriated White River Utes killed a dozen soldiers and Indian Agency employees. The incident so badly frightened the white settlers scattered throughout this area that they decided to band together and build a fort for protection. The settlers, most of whom were only recently arrived in Ashley Valley, dismantled their newly built cabins, numbered the logs, and reassembled them here on the fort site, building cedar post buttresses between them.
Original plans called for building a square fort, but by the time the people have completed three sides of the square, government forces had gained control of the Utes and construction stopped on what was sometimes called “Fort Scared-to-Death.”
The south row of houses ran one block west from the middle of the present Main Street/Vernal Avenue intersection, in front of you, nearly to 100 West. The east row ran a half block north of the intersection along Vernal Avenue and connected with the north row, which ran from there again due west, forming the third side of a “U.”
Although there were no further incidents with Native Americans that hall, in hindsight, it was fortunate the people had “forted up.” The following season, which came to be known as the Hard WInter, was so harsh that solitary families might have perished had it not been for the fort. In early spring 1880, the settlers chose several of their number to travel on horseback and foot to Green River, Wyoming, for supplies. Despite severe hardships, they were successful and brought life back to the valley.
This is #10 of the 21 stop history walking tour in downtown Vernal, Utah. See the other stops on this page: