100 Days of National Parks: Day 53 – Moonshine Jug, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Moonshine Jug

Moonshine Jug

Moonshine Jug
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A lot of times when I wander through the remnants of old homesteads or buildings, like this broken-down barn in John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, I like to come up with stories for the people that used to live and work the land.  I imagine what the buildings looked like before they were abandoned, imagined the lives of the people who built them.  In some cases, I seize on small pieces of left-behind scrap, a book left to rot, a chair that’s been claimed as a nest for squirrels, or a lone green glass jug, glittering in the fading light of the afternoon sun.

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100/100/100: Day 5 – Gifford Homestead Barn, Capitol Reef National Park

Gifford Homestead Barn

Located near the main campground in the heart of the Fruita district of Capitol Reef National Park, the Gifford homestead is one of the best preserved reminders of the early 1900’s Mormon settlement that once thrived along the banks of the Fremont River. Compared to the other National Parks in Southern Utah, Capitol Reef seems almost like the forgotten fifth wheel, the more out-of-the-way, less frequented cousin to Zion, Bryce, Arches, and Canyonlands. It is one of the most captivating places I’ve ever been though, with its lush orchards and towering sandstone cliffs, it’s definitely not to be missed.

The Gifford homestead itself was originally built by Calvin Pendleton in 1908, before transferring its ownership eventually to the eponymous Gifford family who lived there and farmed the land until selling to the National Park Service in 1969. The house itself, seen in the background of this photo, now serves as a museum and gift shop, as well as the place to buy the most amazing pies and cinnamon rolls you could ever ask for, perfect after long weeks hiking and exploring the southwest, I can attest. I took this photo in October of 2015, toward the tail end of a week-long, rain-drenched road trip with my erstwhile traveling companion, and was thrilled at the peace and quiet the park had to offer. The Cottonwoods had just started to turn, their yellowing leaves standing in stark contrast to the red of the canyon walls, and with the extensive rain that had pounded the entire state all week, we felt like we had the park to ourselves.

Capitol Reef is quickly becoming one of my favorites, and I can’t wait to get back there sometime soon, for the pies if nothing else…

Gifford Homestead Barn

Gifford Homestead Barn

Located near the main campground in the heart of the Fruita district of Capitol Reef National Park, the Gifford homestead is one of the best preserved reminders of the early 1900’s Mormon settlement that once thrived along the banks of the Fremont River.  Compared to the other National Parks in Southern Utah, Capitol Reef seems almost like the forgotten fifth wheel, the more out-of-the-way, less frequented cousin to Zion, Bryce, Arches, and Canyonlands.  It is one of the most captivating places I’ve ever been though, with its lush orchards and towering sandstone cliffs, it’s definitely not to be missed.

The Gifford homestead itself was originally built by Calvin Pendleton in 1908, before transferring its ownership eventually to the eponymous Gifford family who lived there and farmed the land until selling to the National Park Service in 1969.  The house itself, seen in the background of this photo, now serves as a museum and gift shop, as well as the place to buy the most amazing pies and cinnamon rolls you could ever ask for, perfect after long weeks hiking and exploring the southwest, I can attest.  I took this photo in October of 2015, toward the tail end of a week-long, rain-drenched road trip with my erstwhile traveling companion, and was thrilled at the peace and quiet the park had to offer.  The Cottonwoods had just started to turn, their yellowing leaves standing in stark contrast to the red of the canyon walls, and with the extensive rain that had pounded the entire state all week, we felt like we had the park to ourselves.

Capitol Reef is quickly becoming one of my favorites, and I can’t wait to get back there sometime soon, for the pies if nothing else…

Grafton, Utah

Just a stone’s throw from Zion National Park lies the small ghost town of Grafton, Utah, a former settlement along the south banks of the Virgin River.

Just a stone’s throw from Zion National Park lies the small ghost town of Grafton, Utah, a former settlement along the south banks of the Virgin River.  Settled in 1859 by Mormon cotton farmers, and officially abandoned in 1944, the town never had many people, and was emblematic of the difficulties inherent to farming along the notoriously unpredictable river.  It was often racked with floods, erosion, and heavy silt accumulation during its short existence, and by the turn of the century, fewer than 100 people called it home.

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