Last updated: March 6, 2021
Audio Description, Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Parking - Auto, Parking - Bus/RV, Scenic View/Photo Spot
The implement shed is located on the south side of the Scenic Drive, across from the Ripple Rock Nature Center, less than one mile (1.6 km) from the visitor center.
Merin and Cora Smith lived and farmed in Fruita for over a decade. During that time, Merin built this sandstone building to use as a workshop, blacksmith shop, and garage. Subsequent landowners used it for many of the same purposes, including artists Elizabeth and Dick Sprang.
When the National Park Service acquired the land and building, they decided to furnish it as it would have been in the 1930s. Notice the Eimco transitional tractor inside. The Eimco tractor is a Utah original, invented by the two Bonham brothers in the 1930s, and produced until World War II. It is considered transitional because it was driven from machinery pulled behind it, with reins attached to levers. The tools and vehicles inside were acquired over time by the National Park Service and the Capitol Reef Natural History Association to illustrate what life would have been like in Fruita during that time period.
Listen to Dewey Gifford, a farmer and rancher in Fruita, talk about his life in rural Utah. The audio post is located at the Merin Smith Implement Shed. Read a transcript of the audio file.
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.
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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.