the spring of 1880 a direct supply and access road connecting southwestern
and southeastern Utah was completed. Known as the Hole-In-The-Rock Trail,
its direct penetration through the Colorado River gorge and surrounding
topography shortened distances over alternative routes by up to hundreds
of miles. Built by Mormon pioneers answering a mission call to colonize
the southeastern section of the territory, the trail provided a crucial
link for one year before the most rugged stretches were bypassed with
the opening of Hall's Crossing.
mission which resulted in the trail's construction was initiated by
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to secure peaceful relations
with the Indians and to open the area to further colonization. After
four months of exploring for a feasible route to their intended destination,
the pioneers selected a direct route from Escalante. Although it was
the least explored of all the possible routes, it was by far the shortest.
winter approached at the end of November 1879, 250 men, women, and children,
with 80 wagons and 1,000 head of cattle, found themselves up against
terribly broken, seemingly impassable terrain. The settlers had been
en route for more than two weeks when they reached the 1,200-foot-deep
Colorado River gorge, sixty-five miles southeast of Escalante.