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Friday, August 19, 2011

Million Dollar Highway in UTAH

Continuing along Scenic Highway 12 in Utah (see map above) on our western trip in June,  we passed through the northern part of the Grand Staircase of Escalante National Monument (on June 22).  This monument is 1.9 million acres of preserved land for us to enjoy.  The Staircase where we were consists of a series of massive geological steps which descends toward the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  NOTE:  Enlarge photos (except for the first one) to make them MUCH larger!!!!

On the road to the town of Escalante
We were heading from the town of Escalante to Boulder.  This stretch of road is called the Million Dollar Highway (because the cost to build it was a million dollars).   But it is also known as Hell's Backbone Road.  This rugged area was completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC),  allowing vehicle-traffic between Escalante and Boulder for the first time. 

Heading up the Million Dollar Highway
Constructing the road was a result of back breaking labor and tons of dynamite blasting throught slickrock terrain, in the days before heavy machinery.   Construction debris were removed with horse -drawn scrapers or by hand with pick and shovel.  It took them from 1935-1940 to complete the highway.  (Do you think many people in our country today would want the job back then of building that road --almost by hand???)

You can see the road on the bottom right winding through the canyons and boulders.
Today,  most of the pavement between Escalante and Boulder still rests on original base material, and the drainage structures put in place by the CCC crews continue to move water under or away from the travel surface...   (This impresses me.  Don't think our roads these days are built that good,  do you?)

Entering the HOGSBACK area where the road gets much more narrow
Another interesting note:  When the road opened in 1940,  it provided the town of Boulder with its first year-round mail service to be delivered by automobile.  Prior,  Boulder was the last community in the United States to receive its mail by mule train.   AND--Boulder was secluded from the north by Boulder Mountain (which I will share in another upcoming post).  That road (across Boulder Mountain) wasn't completed until 1985.  Can you imagine living in Boulder, Utah in the early 1900's???????

Hugs cliffs and rock formations on both sides of the highway
Along the steep stretch of Scenic Highway 12 was a section called HOGSBACK.  The road follows  along the top of a narrow canyon,  which in places slopes down with little shoulder on both sides to a 2000 foot drop.  You can see where the Hogsback is by looking at Number 15 on the map above.  The views were incredible along this stretch --but there was no stopping due to the narrowness of the road.  SO--many of my photos were taken from our moving car.  Some even have a glare or sunspot --but I still wanted you to see that area.  George calls me the "Drive-By-Shooter" (with a camera that is). ha


Can you imagine digging through this stuff to put in a road,  especially when they had to do it almost all by hand?????  Yipes!


We are heading out of the Hogsback area and headed down toward the community of Boulder.  Don't these pictures make you feel like you are in another world?  It was awesome!


Finally, we reached the TINY community of Boulder, Utah.  As you can see,  there is nothing much here.  Boulder Town was long known as the "Last Frontier in Utah".  It was first settled in 1894 and was named for the volcanic boulders all around.   Not only was mail delivered by mule---but so was fresh milk...  Sometimes it took so long to get the milk over that mountain that it was butter by the time it reached the settlers.  Today,  there are about 189 people living in Boulder. 

WELL---this is just another piece of Scenic Highway 12 in Utah. As I say frequently,  when you travel,  find those backroads--the scenic ones,  and try them ...  It was fabulous!!!!  BUT---just wait 'til the next part of our journey AFTER we left Boulder and headed UP UP UP Boulder Mountain... That will be another post.

Please click on these pictures since I have made them alot larger.  Have a fabulous weekend and I will see you on Monday

Hugs,
Betsy

65 comments:

Ms. A said...

I wish someone would have included a drainage consideration when they built some of our roads that flood like crazy.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Cicero Sings said...

Amazing what can be accomplished "by hand". Such grand scenery. What a wonderful trip you had.

Big Dude said...

The scenery is something else and you got some great shots of it. Anytime we go West, I always have difficulty believing I'm in the same country.

Arkansas Patti said...

A million bucks wouldn't get you much of a road these days. I just loved the color variations on that boulder that you shot on the drive by. Amazing.

Thoughtfully Blended Hearts said...

WOW. . . these are so gorgeous!!! Love the new enlarge feature!!!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

LOL on the drive by shooter! Wonderful pictures. Have a great weekend :-)

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

To think how of how this road was constructed is amazing.I do agree that anything built today would not be as well made.It's hard to understand that we lack the desire to build something that is durable,and that goes not just for roads,but most everything we buy.The scenery is just gorgeous.

Sandra said...

it is beautiful and i for one am glad i did not live there in the 1900's. the names make me laugh, hogsback, hells backbone road, and now after seeing this gorgeous picture of the boulder up close, i can guess why they have named the city boulder. these are some really spectacular boulders

Kim @ Stuff could... said...

These boulders are so neat! Mountains of boulders....nice

Lucy aka Roeann said...

I have got to turn off on 12 and go clear up that way someday.

Birdman said...

Never been to Utah... thanks for the trip.

The Incredible Woody said...

Just beautiful! I really have much more exploring to do in Utah. Well, I really have more exploring to do just about everywhere:)

wildlifewatcher said...

Hi Betsy, Wonderful shots of great scenic country. I have never been to that area of Utah. Wonderful information about the history of that road. I know that the gangs of workers must have taken great pride in their accomplishment of having provided an outstanding finished road to Boulder, UT. Have an especially joyous day!

Out on the prairie said...

A neighbor has a horse drawn grader in his yard and they were tiny compared to what we have today.Lovely shots Betsy.

Ruthi said...

wow, this is very interesting. and the photos you put here are amazing. i would like to visit this place someday. thanks for sharing.

diane b said...

Utah sure has some amazing scenery. I'm enjoying bits that we didn't see. We thought all the roads in America were great compared to ours.

TexWisGirl said...

can only imagine the isolation of those early folks who settled in that area. when the road was built, they probably thought, "well, there goes the neighborhood..."

Happyone:-) said...

Awesome photos!! So much work putting in those roads. Something most people just take for granted.

Elzie said...

Just love the pics from your trip. Sure looks different from the place I live, lol.
Hope you have a nice weekend.
Love Elzie

EG Wow said...

Utah is amazingly beautiful. I haven't been there for years so thanks for the memories!

imac said...

Sounds like a trip of a lifetime my friend.

Shug said...

Amazing! What gorgeous colors to be seen in all those rocks...exploding beauty! I enjoyed taking this tour with you today...
have a Blessed Friday..

Hugs,
shug

Linda said...

I am SO enjoying taking this virtual trip west with you and George. Thanks for tipping us off to yet another must-see area. The photos are gorgeous, even though shot through the window of a moving car.

Karin said...

Great background info on all your fantastic photos! In places it does look other-world-like! Must have been hardy, hardy folks who would want to even settle in such a secluded area! Both of you certainly are adventurous folks! Thanks for sharing!

Fred Alton said...

☻ Police are looking for you - the drive-by shooter!

Lady Di Tn said...

Betsy
So far one of my favorites. If the road had to be built by hand today well I would not be built. I like the little village and wonder about the town. I think it would make a nice backdrop for a movie. Unfortunately, I am too much of a Tennessean to wish to move to Boulder Utah. Photos were great even though you were speeding by. Peace

Ginny said...

Your stories are amazing!!! I had no idea there even were mail mule trains that late!! Yes, as I said to George about his Painted Desert pictures, some of this does look like another planet, I would be expecting to see a Klingon expedition party show up at any minute! Scotty, beam me up!!!

Cheryl @ The Farmer's Daughter said...

I think Utah scenery is fabulous! It's just so unlike any scenery in the midwest. Although our scenery has it's own beauty. Your photos from the car are great, Betsy, and I'm looking forward to the next ones from Utah. I'll be on vacation the next several days, but I'll have to take time to peak in here once in a while and see your photos! Take care!

Rose said...

Have you come back to planet earth after seeing all of these places? I love that one of Boulder...love that red barn...

Daisy said...

Amazing photos, Betsy! It's hard to imagine anyone building those roads. Quite a feat! :)

Hope you have a nice weekend!

Lola said...

That is a magnificent tour. I loved every word. Great explanation. I'm seeing the West through your lenses.
Are all those rocks, like hard rocks? Unbelievable.
Have a great weekend.

Snapper II said...

Betsy you are so fortunate to be able to wittness some of natures handiwork. I sure would like to visit these sites.

Chatty Crone said...

You know what - we take roads for granted I think - this road is beautiful - and it made available to people and to places many things.

When I went to Alaska a few years ago - they only have about 8 roads - they are so far behind in their infra-structure!

Nice pictures Betsy.

Busy Bee Suz said...

We fell in love with the beauty of Utah during our improptu road trip this summer; gorgeous.
I think the people of Boulder must have been really patient with the mail service back in the day.
Have a great weekend.

dayphoto said...

The next time you are here, you need to drive on Colorado's Million Dollar Highway...way different....clear up in the clouds.

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

Retired English Teacher said...

Your travel photos are always so beautiful, but I must say that I am most intrigued by the informative background and commentary that you include with the photos.

The CCC certainly did some amazing work.

A Brit in Tennessee said...

Amazing work...and all done by hand, it's so impressive !
The colors in the rock reminds me of Autumn, such beauty.
I've so enjoyed following along on your trip, I've got to enjoy an area of this beautiful country, I have yet to see in person.
Thank you for sharing with us.
~Jo

Amish Stories said...

A very nice blog and thought id say hello. Richard from the Amish community of Lebanon,Pa.

Wendy said...

Wow - I'm impressed! Done by hand, can hardly believe it.
You have such fun adventures. Thanks for the pics, I really enjoy seeing the sights with you!

Carletta said...

I don't know if I'll ever make it out West and so I am really enjoying the photos your captured of the beautiful scenery. You've shown us the 'ordinary' images that really bring it home to us.
I love that third from last shot. It reminds me of Raiders of the Lost Ark movie and I swear I can see a face on the side of that. :)
Have a great weekend!

Ann said...

I'm so far behind in reading and trying to catch up. What a pleasure to stop here and see such gorgeous shots. Mail and milk both delivered by mule huh? I wonder, did they come in on the same mule?....lol

Angela said...

That is such interesting information about Utah. Great pictures too! It is hard to believe that the original road is still there! Some of the roads here in West Virginia around where I live are just terrible with holes. You can see the miners coming out with their picks! lol My 7 yr old son wants me to call and tell them to pave the road! lol

Janie said...

We've been on Hwy 12 a few times. It's one of my favorite drives.
Building that road was quite a tour de force without major machinery. You gave us lots of good facts here, Betsy. I didn't know that the CCC put in the original roadbed.

Donna said...

Beautiful countryside! You make me yearn for a road trip!

Loran said...

I'm so glad you got to see this part of My World! Isn't Escalante incredibly beautiful? Southern Utah is just jam packed full of awesome sights.

SquirrelQueen said...

Building a road through that country had to be an incredible feat. It's surprising that it only cost one million even back then.

All your photos are gorgeous Betsy but I love the one entering Hogsback. We have got to get down that way.

Happy Weekend!

mudderbear said...

Betsy, I am really enjoying this trip through the desert in Utah. I can't imagine those poor souls digging rock out there in that awful heat. I can't imagine living there, either. Thank you for all the information that goes with your pics, too. You really did your homework.

Haddock said...

Lovely pictures.
Building a road like this in the late thirties must have been a real feat.
Kudos to them.

Catherine said...

Traveling the backroads is always my favorite thing to do. Except the backroads of Saskatchewan aren't quite as exciting as this!

Happy Weekend Betsy!
xo Catherine

Janice K said...

Very interesting. When we took our trip last fall, we were going in the reverse of how you went, but I believe we came south on US 89 to get to Bryce Canyon. It was a beautiful drive also; however, there were a couple of forest fires in the area. One set on purpose and the other by lightning (I think.) It's kind of spooky driving into a wall of smoke and knowing the place you have reservations for that night is somewhere inside there. Even though it was smoky, our hotel was a safe enough distance away, and apparently the fire had been burning for a long time.

carolina nana said...

Oh my goodness I cannot imagine building a road through those rock cliffs by hand back in those years.
That is a beautiful place . That trip was surly magical to get to see all that you all saw.
Blessings
Marilyn

Small City Scenes said...

Senic America---Wonderful.

I too am amazed at the roads the hardworking people before us made. No modern machinery--just backbreaking labor. Wonderful roads. Blasting through all the rok just amazes me. Thanks for the tour. MB

Tes said...

Hi Betsy, such lovely photos -who would have thought some were taken from a car. I feel as if I've been on a virtual trip with you guys. I always enjoy your post. :)

Neal said...

Gorgeous shots Betsy. The sky is so blue in those pictures. I think the landscape is very beautiful but I think I would get tired of it and want something green after a while.

Unknown said...

Great Photos and nice commentary. Hells Backbone Road is actually another road that traverses the south flank of Boulder Mountain. It was used in the early 1900s to move cattle from summer and winter ranges. It was the first auto capable road into Boulder. It joins Highway 12 approximately two miles south of Boulder town.
This area has one of the most diversified climate zones in the US. From 11,300 feet at Blue Bell Knoll on Boulder Top to the lower red rock desert at the end of the Burr Trail east of Capitol Reef National Park. Boulder is a great place to spend several days.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Unknown, Thanks for stopping by.. I see that you don't have a blog so I need to respond here since I don't have an email address either..

We are so fascinated by that area of Utah. It was our first time there and was SO fascinating.. I love doing all of the history.. You provided even more.

I haven't done a post yet on Boulder Mtn. so would love to hear more about it from you. You can email me at betsyadams@mac.com if you like...

Thanks Again,
Betsy

Chip "Rocket Man" Allen said...

Beautiful scenery out there, Betsy. Thanks for taking us along on your trip!

Lynn said...

Isn't if frustrating when the view is awesome and no place to stop for pictures? You did a fantastic job taking them through the window. There is a lot of rock out there. Very different landscape from Colorado and Sedona. Beautiful in it's own right. Nope cannot imagine living in Boulder, Utah then or now. I need flowers and green. Blessings
Lynn

Snapper II said...

I'm back to look at your Header photo one more time. Simply amazing.

JDS said...

Nice pictures once again, Betsy! They remind me of a John Ford Western. What is sad, is that it would take at least 15 years to build that road today, even with our much improved technology...but I will save my sociological/political comments for later.

Sylar said...

nice post :P
+follow

Twilight Man said...

When I was a kid, we had the only American musical TV show that was Donny and Marie Osmonds. It was black and white TV shows then and I was fascinated to hear about their base in Utah. Today I am glad to see your lovely photos of their natural scenic spots. Thanks Betsy, I am truly happy to see them.

Loren said...

Oh my goodness! It is amazing to think all that went into these roads and how they have to do it!! We could all learn so much if we would just slow down and appreciate they way they did things back then!!

Love taking trips with you (virtually of course) and learning so much each and every time!

Love and Hugs!

Lana said...

I think I have have said this before, but Utah is so amazing because you can actually see the ecosystems change from mile to mile. This is a beautiful stretch of highway, and I am so glad you and George were able to take it all in.

Pedaling said...

the wild, wild west is a beauty to behold!