View of Fruita about 1940, showing primary landscape organization
including orchards, agricultural fields, roads and natural systems.
OVERALL LANDSCAPE ORGANIZATION
The cultural landscape of Fruita includes
approximately 200 acres of canyon bottom land channelled between steep
sandstone cliffs along the Fremont River and Sulphur Creek. The Fremont
River flows through the canyon in an easterly direction, meeting Muddy
Creek at Hanksville to form the Dirty Devil River, which flows into the
Colorado River. Large vertical sandstone cliffs dominate the north and
east boundaries of the landscape. Johnson Mesa pushes Sulphur Creek
north at its confluence with the Fremont River, and steep slopes define
the corridor of arable land south along the Fremont to Hattie's Field.
Historically, these landforms focused early settlement onto the arable
lands along both water courses. The landscape was organized into more
discrete units based on early circulation systems, property boundaries,
the development of an irrigation system, and cultural traditions
associated with family management of individual orchards and croplands.
This overall landscape organization and physical pattern is evident in
the landscape today. Spatially, the landscape of Fruita is defined by
the mosaic of orchards and open fields, which is in turn structured by
the extensive frame work of irrigation ditches constructed by the early
settlers of Fruita. These ditches defined the extent and scale of the
early agricultural landscape of Fruita, and portions of this system are
still in use today (see Structures: Irrigation System). Circulation
through Fruita was historically limited to two routes: one along the
north edge of the settlement, and one running north-south the length of
the canyon. The latter road, known today as the Scenic Drive, is largely
intact through the Fruita area, with only minor modifications (paving
and realignment of small sections).