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Historical Background

Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

Suggested Reading

Soldier and Brave
Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings


Location: Millard County, town of Cove Fort.

Built in 1867 by order of Brigham Young with church funds, Cove Fort provided a refuge for settlers during the Ute Black Hawk War and was a way station for travelers between Salt Lake City and Mormon settlements in the Virgin River Valley and in southern Nevada and California. The site was a favorite camping place of Young, who made frequent trips to southwestern Utah. The builder of the fort, Ira N. Hinckley, maintained it as a residence until 1877. One of its 12 original rooms housed a telegraph station on the Mormon line. Fortunately Indians never attacked or besieged the fort, for its water supply was poor. An earlier fort, known as Willden's Fort, consisting of three rooms and a dugout, had been built on the site in 1861.

Although privately owned, Cove Fort is open to the public. Constructed of blocks of basalt laid with lime mortar, it consists of two one-story rows of six rooms each that face each other across a courtyard and form the north and south walls of a 100-foot square fortification. Each room has a door and window to the court and door connecting with adjacent rooms, but the exterior walls have no openings. The south range is original, and the north range was restored in 1917. The courtyard is walled at each end with the same type of masonry, and in each wall is a large gate of heavy planks. Just above the tops of the gates and running the full length of each end wall is a wooden catwalk to enable defenders to use the upper portion of the wall for protection while shooting through firing ports. The exterior walls of the rooms also served as parapets.

Cove Fort
Cove Fort, Utah. (National Park Service)

Location: Millard County, on Utah 257, about 1 mile south of Deseret.

Fort Deseret was one of many built by the Mormons to protect settlers and serve as way stations for travelers. Although the Indians never attacked the post, local residents found it a welcome refuge when hostilities threatened. Constructed in 1866 of mud and straw, it had two corner bastions and was approximately 550 feet square. Most of the 10-foot walls have fallen down. The corners, two bastions, and most of the east wall still stand in an undeveloped State park.


Location: Millard County, on an unimproved road, about 9 miles southwest of Deseret.

Gen. Patrick E. Connor
Gen. Patrick E. Connor, commander in Utah and the Great Plains during the Civil War years. (photo Matthew B. Brady, National Archives)

At this site a band of Ute Indians massacred Capt. John W. Gunnison's Pacific Railroad Survey party, one of several sponsored by the War Department's Corps of Topographical Engineers. Unaware that the Walker War had broken out between the Ute Indians of central Utah and the Mormons, Gunnison and seven men set out on October 21, 1853, from their camp at Cedar Springs, just west of Fillmore, Utah, to explore the Sevier Lake country, in the area of Indian hostilities. Four days later a band of Utes massacred the party. Searchers found the bodies and buried them at the site. The massacre halted surveying activities in Utah until the following year, when Ute hostilities ended. Lt. Edward G. Beckwith resumed the survey and completed it to the Pacific. A monument marks the massacre site, relatively undisturbed.

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Last Updated: 19-Aug-2005