Ghost Town: Cove Fort - Millard County, Utah


Moderator & Supporting Member
Site: Cove Fort
Alternate Names: Cove Creek Ranch Fort, Wilden Fort
County, State: Millard County, Utah
Years of Occupation: 1867 - 1890's, then private until 1989, restored in 1994
Status of Site: Open with free tours
Classification: Class 5F - Restored/Re-living Town
Type: Railroad/Transportation
Remnants: Numerous restored/replica/moved buildings and original fort
GPS Coordinate: 38.600941 N, 112.581865 W
Date of Last Visit: 2/8/14

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Cove Fort was founded in 1867 by Ira Hinkley at the directive of then LDS Church President Brigham Young. The fort site was dictated by minor Indian conflicts and need for water by travelers along the Pioneer Highway (aka Mormon Corridor), a rough network of trails connecting the Salt Lake area with the Mormon pioneer settlements in the south. Its location offered a halfway point for travelers and traders between Beaver and Fillmore, both growing outposts at the time. Ira located a nearby spring offering reliable water and selected a site approximately 2 miles downstream from the springs headwaters. Men and supplies were sent from Salt Lake to construct the impressive fort, its 2-4 feet thick walls were constructed using volcanic rock and limestone from the nearby mountains, shaped flat on the outside faces to prevent a climber from breaching the forts walls. The fort was arranged in a 100' x 100' arrangement with two opposite walls (north & south walls) featuring living quarters, offices, telegraph, laundry and a large kitchen/dining area. The inner perimeter of the forts walls feature a walkway that allowed unobstructed views and defense positions to thwart would be attacks. The east and west walls feature secured doors, the west being a small single swing door and the eastern side featuring a much larger double door arrangement.

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The fort was utilized by countless travelers as a stop over en route north and south from its opening in 1867 until the early 1890's when the need for the fort diminished as rail travel all but eliminated overland travel on the Pioneer Highway. For the next century the fort would be occupied sporradically by members of the Kesler family whom ran some local ranching operations. While they originally leased the property from the LDS Church, they later purchased the property for its prime ranching lands and continued to own it up until 1989 when Ira Hinkley's descendents were able to negotiate a purchase of the fort and some immediate land surrounding it. The land was later donated to the LDS Church whom funded and oversaw the restoration of the site in 1994. Today the site features free tours throughout the site year round. It is well worth the visit if you find yourself with some time on a road trip on I-15 or make a destination out of it from home.

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References/Further Reading:


From the North (Salt Lake): Travel south on I-15 for approx. 175 miles to Exit 135 (Historic Cove Fort). Continue east on UT-161 for two miles to the Cove Fort Historic Site.

From the South (St. George): Travel north on I-15 for approx. 128 miles to Exit 135 (Historic Cove Fort). Continue east on UT-161 for two miles to the Cove Fort Historic Site.

From the East (Green River, Ut): Travel west on I-70 for approx. 160 miles to Exit 1 (Historic Cove Fort). Continue north on UT-161 for one mile to the Cove Fort Historic Site.

Additional Pictures:

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Cove Fort is really cool place, especially if you take the tour. I live over the mountains in Richfield been there a couple of times, I even used for treasure hunt a few years back for a motorcycle run I put together....