Last updated: October 31, 2022
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The Gifford farm lies in the heart of the Fruita valley, a desert oasis described by Wallace Stegner as "...a sudden, intensely green little valley among the cliffs of the Waterpocket Fold, opulent with cherries, peaches, and apples in season, inhabited by a few families who were about equally good Mormons and good frontiersmen and good farmers." The 200 acre Fruita Rural Historical District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Capitol Reef Natural History Association, in cooperation with the National Park Service, has renovated and refurnished the Gifford farmhouse as a cultural demonstration site to interpret the early Mormon settlement of the Fruita valley. The house depicts the typical spartan nature of rural Utah farm homes of the early 1900s. In addition to the farmhouse, the Gifford homestead includes a barn, smokehouse, garden, pasture, and rock walls.
The Gifford House is open seasonally from March 14 (Pi Day) at least through October 31 each year. Open season may extend in November some years.
Read a transcript of Dewy Gifford's recollections (audio file below).
Dewey Gifford calls Fruita “paradise” as he remembers his time farming and ranching in the area from 1928 to 1969. He describes growing apples, peaches, and pears in the orchards while his children attended school at the Fruita Schoolhouse. Gifford lived in what is now the Historic Gifford Homestead.
My name is Dewey Gifford, and I was a farmer and rancher in Fruita from 1928 until 1969. For much of that time, we had no running water, electricity, or telephone. There was little cash to be had from farming, so I had to be away when I was young. I worked on the state roads, herded sheep, and ran cattle in the South Desert. But the most pleasant memories I have were those of family, farming and friends here in Fruita. Until 1940, we used all teams and horse-drawn implements, mostly for growing and cutting alfalfa for animal feed. The orchards of course, took a lot of work, but we had beautiful fruit: apricots, peaches, pears, apples, plums and cherries. We trucked a lot of it out of Fruita for cash sale or traded for grain with other farmers near Loa and Lyman.
- Date created:
- 2020-10-14 00:00:00.0
All my children were raised here and attended the one-room school. Life wasn’t much different from 1880, when pioneers first settled here. You had to be very self-sufficient to make it. Most everybody here had been raised as Latter Day Saints, but some weren’t very active. We held Sunday School over in the schoolhouse. The eight or so families here got along pretty good, considering the isolation. Oh, we didn’t agree on everything; I remember Cass Mulford supported Hoover while I was a Roosevelt man, myself.
Both men and women worked hard here, but we took time to play. Our family enjoyed high country hunts and fishing. The women quilted. We read a lot in the winter and enjoyed baseball in the summer. We saw few travelers here until after 1937, when the park came. Most were cattlemen and sheep herders. There were huge herds of sheep trailing through Fruita in those days. For me, Fruita was paradise. I will never forget it.