Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


September 6, 2012

National Heritage Area in Utah offers quite a story


The town was abandoned in 1955 when the National Park Service bought it for inclusion in the massive Capital Reef National Park. Few buildings remain except for the 1896 one-room schoolhouse, although the park service maintains about 2,500 fruit trees as a "historic landscape." Nearby, ancient rock art called petroglyphs carved into the walls of a towering cliff by the Freemont Indians can be easily accessed by walking along raised boardwalks.

Backtracking toward Teasdale, I headed northwest along Route 24 where the next 53 miles gave me another look at some spectacular scenery. Passing through Loa, (at 7,045 feet about sea level, it’s one of Utah’s highest county seats), Bicknell and Koosharem, I arrived in Richfield, where I had lunch in the Bank and Vault Bistro, housed in the town’s restored 1899 bank.

One of the reasons for traveling a NHA is to sample not only the historic sites and scenic treasures but also to get a look at local crafts and art galleries and a taste of the indigenous foods.

In the old cowboy town of Salina, I stopped at Mom’s Café, a homey, unpretentious eatery that’s been around for more than 80 years and is famous for its pie. Not that the down-home service and atmosphere isn’t a draw, it’s just that pies, especially the mouth-watering blueberry sour cream, have made Mom’s famous in these parts.

Further north in Gunnison, I took a tour of the 1912 Casino Star Theatre, renovated to its original glory four years ago to serve as an entertainment mecca for the surrounding communities. In Manti, home of one of Utah’s earliest (and most beautiful) Mormon temples, I got to watch as Joseph Bennion fired up his large outdoor kiln to demonstrate how he makes scores of clay artifacts for his Horseshoe Mountain Pottery enterprise.

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