Capitol Reef
Cultural Landscape Report
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View of Fruita about 1940
View of Fruita about 1940, showing primary landscape organization including orchards, agricultural fields, roads and natural systems.


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).

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Last Updated: 01-Apr-2003