Historic Cove Fort - an oasis for travelers - to be dedicated

President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, will dedicate the renovated Cove Fort May 21 in a service open to the public.

Located in southern Utah just off the junction of I-70 and I-15 between Fillmore and Beaver, the historic fort has undergone several years of renovation by the Church. The dedicatory service will begin at 11 a.m.Of the many forts built during the settlement of the Utah Territory in the mid-19th century, only Cove Fort still stands with its walls intact, providing visitors an authentic touch of the old West.

Not only is the fort intact and authentically restored, but today it welcomes interstate highway travelers just as it did weary wagon and horseback travelers in the years following its completion in 1867. The fort in those early years provided the only lodging and eating facilities for miles around, as well as telegraph, mail and stage offices.

Utah statehood was still three decades away when Latter-day Saint pioneer Ira N. Hinckley, grandfather of President Hinckley, oversaw construction of the fort. Ira Hinckley had been assigned by President Brigham Young to take his family to the Cove Creek area and build the facility. President Hinckley's father, Bryant S. Hinckley, spent his childhood at the fort.

President Young told the 39-year-old Ira of the need to protect the telegraph and mail stations at Cove Creek and to offer food, rest and protection from bad weather to travelers through the area.

Ira Hinckley and those called to accompany him required nearly eight days to travel from Salt Lake City to Cove Creek, 190 miles to the south, a trip covered today by automobile in about three hours. Workmen were called from wards in Beaver on the south and Fillmore to the north. The basic structure was completed between April and November 1867. The fort served as a welcome oasis for travelers along the "Mormon Corridor" between Salt Lake City and St. George.

Through the years, ownership of Cove Fort changed hands several times. In recent years it was acquired by the Historic Cove Fort Acquisition and Restoration Foundation, an organization directed by the descendants of Ira Hinckley. In 1988, the foundation donated the property to the Church. (See Church News, Aug. 20, 1988.)

The fort is 100 feet by 100 feet. Its walls, 18 feet high and 4 feet thick at the base, were built with volcanic rock and burned-lime mortar. Within the walls are a central courtyard and rooms furnished with period furniture. Nearby are a restored barn, blacksmith shop and other outbuildings. Newly installed adjacent to the fort, for the convenience of travelers, are parking facilities, restrooms and a picnic area. There are no lodging and dining facilities in the immediate vicinity.

Cove Fort is open to the public with guided tours available daily. Individual travelers and tour groups are welcome. Admission is free.

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