A Highway or a Short Story Collection?

Castle Valley on I-70

Castle Valley on I-70

Highway 70 through Utah is basically a series of short stories tied up by a ribbon of cement. It runs through a region of the state called the San Rafael Swell where there were no major roads at all before it was built. There is a 110 mile stretch of the highway where there are no towns and no service for automobiles, but every few miles there is another scenic and historical roadside attraction.

Castle Valley on I-70

Castle Valley on I-70

Castle Valley is a beautiful high desert region where water is almost impossible to find, and is often poison. I remember seeing western films that featured water holes with the bones of animals and sometimes people scattered around them. This was one the last places Mormon leader, Brigham Young, called on his people to settle. Some Desert cowboys and outlaws were able to survive here

Ghost Rock on I-70 in Utah

Ghost Rock on I-70 in Utah

but it is still mostly empty.

Ghost Rocks were the only visible landmarks when fog settled in the San Rafael Swell. To the cowboys who drove cattle and rounded up wild horses in the region, the towering rocks looked like giant spirits in the desert.

Sawtooth Ridge is a thirty mile long stone barrier at the eastern

I 70 passing through Spotted  Wolf Canyon, in Utah

I 70 passing through Spotted Wolf Canyon, in Utah

edge of nowhere. Early Spanish explorers avoided the area by detouring twenty miles to the north. There was a slot passage through Spotted Wolf Canyon, but this route was so narrow a traveler could touch both walls of the canyon simultaneously. In 1967, engineers and surveyors dangled in body harnesses as high as 400 feet above the canyon floor and excavated eight miles of rock to widen passage enough to finish a two lane road in 1970. Another two lanes were added in 1980.

The primary function of I 70 is to connect with a system of highways to provide a commercially viable passage from Los Angeles to the east coast. It does not connect any major urban areas within the state of Utah. Highway 70 has been designated a National Scenic Byway. Attractions listed by the Federal Highway Administration for the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway on or near I-70 include, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, Goblin Valley State Park and Westwater. The designation lists several side roads branching from I-70 that lead to dinosaur bones or footprints.

 

 

 

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