Capitol Reef
Cultural Landscape Report
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Fruita is located in a large regional transition area between the high plateau country to the west and the canyonlands to the east. Because of its location, Fruita historically served as a passage-way to both regions. Two natural features have had the greatest influence shaping the cultural landscape of Fruita: the water courses of the Fremont River and Sulphur Creek; and the two canyon corridors running east-west and north-south through the settlement. At the largest scale, the steep canyon cliffs created boundaries for the cultural landscape, by physically channelling early settlement into the canyon bottom lands. In addition, because there was a limit to the amount of arable land along these bottom lands, community development and growth remained contained within the canyons. Along these canyon bottoms, soils were generally sandy, requiring amendments to increase water retention and nutrient content. [1] The climate was moderated by the landforms, and water for basic needs and irrigation was plentiful.

In an arid region, the Fremont River and Sulphur Creek not only provided water to those travelling through the area, they also supported the development of an agricultural landscape. Irrigation works were constructed to take advantage of land forms and topography within the canyons, providing a maximum flow over relatively large distances. Although floods were a constant threat and occasionally devastated the community, the Fremont River and, to a lesser degree, Sulphur Creek, were critical resources supporting the development of agriculture and community self-sufficiency. [2] Other natural features, such as soils, native plant communities, and the physiographic character of the land also shaped the cultural landscape influencing land use and overall development of the community. Altogether, these landforms and ecological systems, along with the remoteness of Fruita, led to a concentrated pattern of use and cultural adaptation to the natural landscape that remains evident today.

View of Fremont River and State Highway 24
View of Fremont River and State Highway 24 passing through the north end of Fruita, looking west, 1993.

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Last Updated: 01-Apr-2003