On this day in 2009 we were travelling through Utah, on our way from Moab to Bryce Canyon. On the way, we drove through Capitol Reef National Park. We only had time for one stop, but as we drove through the stunning scenery of burnt orange canyon walls and rippling yellow grasses, we resolved to return. We stopped in the rather prosaically named Fruita, where the principal industry used to be the growing of, you guessed it, fruit. The top picture is Holt’s Orchard, in Fruita. In 1878, a small group of Mormons settled this land by the Fremont River. They found the climate suitable for growing fruit and, now run by the National Parks Service, the orchards continue to flourish today, the Spring blossom making a striking contrast with the imposing red walls of the canyon. Life was hard for those early settlers. This orchard was planted by the Holt family and a little plaque tells their moving story, from the death of their daughter at 3 months from a scorpion sting to the loss of their farm a few years later in one of the many devastating flash floods to which the area was prone.
The Mormons were not, however, the first settlers of this area. Ancestral Puebloans farmed this land from 700 to 1300AD and, just over the road from the Holt Orchard, a boardwalk now runs along the canyon walls to make viewing possible of the many intriguing and beautiful petroglyphs that remain as evidence of their presence (see picture below).
If you are interested in this area of the United States or you are looking for an really rewarding new blog to read, can I recommend Travels with the Blonde Coyote
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