Schoolhouse to Town Hall: A Building on the Move

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FROM SCHOOLHOUSE TO TOWN HALL: A BUILDING ON THE MOVE

The building to your left was originally built as a schoolhouse in 1880 in nearby Silver Reef. It also served in the mining boomtown as a place for community dances and other gatherings.

Soon after the schoolhouse was built, Silver Reef began to decline in population, and by the early 1900s the building was no longer in use. At that time, the building was divided into two parts and moved on logs pulled by horses along the road, 2 miles from Silver Reef to its present site in Leeds. For more than five decades, until 1956, it served as the Leeds Schoolhouse. During most of that time, its two classrooms housed students in eight different grades.

After the school closed, the building was leased to and used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a recreation center. Eventually it was remodeled and turned into a town hall and community gathering place for Leeds. The old school was reroofed and the small porch on the original building was expanded across the full length of the new town hall’s front.

LEEDS PEACHES: DID YOU KNOW? In the 30s, 40s, and 50s when the peach farming was booming in Leeds, peaches from the community were shipped throughout the West via rail from Cedar City. The local people working in the orchards and packing the bushel baskets with ripening peaches became curious about the cost consumer’s were paying for their peaches. So they began writing notes in the bottom of the baskets asking for people to write them back and let them know what they were paying. It was common to receive replies from as far away as Texas and Michigan. Compliments about how good the peaches tasted were often included with the replies.

Snowfield Monument “Franciscan Fathers”

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October 13, 1776: “we set out southward from the small river and campsite of Nuestra Señora del Pilar (“Our Lady of the Pillar” – Kolob Canyon of Zion Canyon National Park)…” and “We traveled a league and a half to the south, descended to the little Río del Pilar (Ash Creek) which here has a leafy cottonwood grove, crossed it, now leaving the valley of the Señor San José and entered a stony cut in form of a pass between two high sierra…” “We continued without a guide, and having traveled with great difficulty over the many stones for a league to the south, we descended a second time to the Río del Pilar and halted on its bank in a pretty cottonwood grove, naming the place San Daniel – Today five leagues south.”
Franciscan Fathers Atanasio Dominguez, Sylvestre Velez de Escalante and eight other members of a daring exploration party departed the Misión de Santa Fe, New Mexico on July 29, 1776, in an attempt to establish contact with the Franciscan mission at Monterey, California. Following previous expeditions into the Spanish borderlands they were able to cross the Colorado River near Grand Junction, Colorado, and entered the unexplored regions of the Great Basin near Spanish Fork, Utah. They then proceeded southward along the Wasatch Mountains expecting a westward flowing river that would eventually take them to the Pacific Ocean. Disappointed and facing the reality of winter snows they “cast lots” at a point near Cedar City, Utah, on October 11, 1776, and elected to return to Santa Fe by a southern route. Their encampment here at “San Daniel” represents the first recorded entry of non-native people into Washington County, Utah. The Fathers arrived back at the Santa Fe Mission on January 2, 1777, having traveled over 1800 miles and recording one of the greatest explorations in American history. Their observations and maps were instrumental in the opening of the American Southwest to further exploration and commercial use of the National Historic Old Spanish Trail.

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Early L.D.S. Church

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Early L.D.S. Church

One room of this building, formerly the L.D.S. church, was erected in 1888. Two years later a second room was added. The Bishop was Randolph Stewart; Building Committee: O.W. Warner, who donated the land, Henry Holyoak, and O.D. Allen. Supervisors were Hyrum Allen, hauling of rock; J.H. Standifred, carpentry; W.J. Bliss, stone cutting; Angus M. Stocks, stone and adobe laying. Labor, money and materials were donated and the first services were held in May, 1889.

Located in Moab with DUP Marker #65.  See other DUP Markers here.

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Elk Mountain Mission

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Elk Mountain Mission

In April 1855, forty-one men under the leadership of Alfred N. Billings were called to establish a mission in the Elk Mountains. They left Salt Lake City May 7, 1855, arriving at Grand River June 11, and selected the site for a fort. By July 15, they had built a fort 64 feet square, with stone walls, 12 feet high, 4 feet at the base and 1 & 1/2 feet at the top. Three of the pioneers, James. W. Hunt, Edward Edwards and William Behunin were buried within the fort which was located about 800 feet from this monument.

Located in Moab with DUP Marker #181.  See other DUP Markers here.

Bluff Fort Historic Park

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The site of Bluff Fort in Bluff is full of historic buildings, plaques and plenty to learn about for hours.

Click this map from their page to go see what they have put together there:

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Some of the things to see include:

Site of Kumen Jones Home – First Stone Home in Bluff

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Perkins Cabin

Lyman Cabin

Cabin Replicas

John Taylor Monument

Hole-in-the-Rock Pioneers Memorial

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Fort Montezuma

San Juan Co-Op

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Bluff, Utah

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Bluff Posts:

Under the direction of John Taylor, Silas S. Smith and Danish settler Jens Nielson led about 230 Mormons on expedition to start a farming community in southeastern Utah. After forging about 200 miles of their own trail over difficult terrain, the settlers arrived on the site of Bluff in April 1880. (The trail followed went over and down the “Hole In the Rock”, which now opens into one of the tributaries of Lake Powell.) The town was named for the bluffs near the town site. The town’s population had declined to seventy by 1930 but rebounded during a uranium prospecting boom in the 1950s. With the uranium decline in the 1970s Bluff again declined and now remains a small town with about 300 residents.

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The San Juan Mission

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Bluff was the first settlement of the white man in San Juan County and its first county seat. It was founded April 6, 1880, by the San Juan Mission “called” by the L.D.S Church to establish friendly relations with the Indians. A small band of mission scouts found good farm land at this location in 1879 and it was resolved to settle here. Late in October 250 colonists from several southwestern Utah communities began the migration via the Hole-in-the-Rock shortcut across the Colorado River. Contrary to expectations this route proved almost impassable and after nearly six months of the most strenuous effort the exhausted company reached this site. No pioneering band ever overcame greater difficulties in establishing and maintaining a home. The turbulent river proved uncontrollable and for 40 years hostile Indians and various types of white renegades threatened both life and property. In spite of hardships and personal sacrifice the missionaries remained steadfast to their calling until released by the Church. The San Juan Mission is an unexcelled example of the highest type of Pioneer endeavor.

Erected by the National Society, Sons of Utah Pioneers – May 31, 1958
Note: This plaque is attached to a rock formation called “Sunbonnet Rock” due to its shape suggestive of a sunbonnet, and is often referred to by this name.

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Hyrum Corey Perkins House

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Hyrum Corey Perkins House

This small, one-story, gable-roofed, vernacular, double-cell type house was originally constructed in the 1890s, by Hyrum Corey Perkins.  H.C. Perkins was the son of Hyrum and Rachel Marie Perkins, who were original members of the pioneering Hole-in-the-Rock colonizing expeditions in southeastern Utah.  A log cabin was originally located on the lot, which was taken down when this double-cell house was built.  Retaining its integrity, the house contributes to the architecture and community of historic Bluff.

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Hobbs Wash

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As a winter storm approached, four nearly starved scouts, George Hobbs, George Morrill, Lemuel Redd, Sr., and George Sevey, sought shelter for the night in this area on December 27, 1879. The scouts were exploring for a feasible route for the 250 Mormon (Hole-in-the-Rock) pioneers to follow from their encampments above the Colorado River gorge 100 miles west of here. George Hobbs: Night overtook us, we camped in this small canyon, this being our third day without food. I cut my name in the rock with the date I was there, not knowing that I would survive the journey.

(Near Comb Ridge and Bluff.)

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