December 3, 2010

The Wild West

Today, Nine Mile Canyon is famous for its many impressive panels of ancient rock art, but in the 1880's, the canyon was best known for being on the supply route from the Price, Utah train station to the Uinta Basin (by way of Gate Canyon). 
Although Native American trails undoubtedly existed in the canyon for at least 1000 years, the army built the first formal wagon road to bring supplies to Fort Duchesne, a military installation opened in 1886 to "control" the Utes who had recently been moved to a reservation in the Uinta Basin area.
The ghost of a military presence remains in this old structure with the US Army sign still hanging at the entrance:
Beside it is a building that housed a telegraph office, first open for business beginning in 1887:
A stagecoach traveled through the canyon on a twice weekly, and later a daily route.  Here's a photo of an old saloon/watering hole that still stands:
There is no door, so perhaps the "open" sign was redundant.  One can imagine thirsty stagecoach travelers and freight wagon drivers stopping by for a drink.
An old lodging house leans drunkenly next door,
Antique farming equipment decorates the grounds:
The old saloon and lodging house were built on the William Brock Ranch. Brock was one of the first ranchers to settle in Nine Mile, but his ranching days ended when he killed a man and had to hotfoot it out of the country.  A man named Pete Francis took over the saloon, but he didn't last long, either.  He was killed in a brawl in his own saloon.  In 1902, Francis's widow sold the property to Preston Nutter, who made the Nine Mile Canyon ranch his home as well as the headquarters for his extensive cattle operations all over Utah, Colorado, and Arizona. 
Here's a photo of Preston Nutter (on the right, riding a mule):
You can read more about him here:
The ranch remained in the Nutter family until the '60's and is still known as the Preston Nutter Ranch.
Stories abound of outlaws such as Butch Cassidy traveling through Nine Mile Canyon on their way from Robber's Roost in southern Utah, to Brown's Park, a favorite outlaw hangout in NE Utah near the borders of Wyoming and Colorado. 
So, in addition to viewing great Fremont/Anasazi rock art, you can revisit the old wild west during your trip to Nine Mile Canyon.


  1. Oh how interesting, Janie... Isn't it amazing just to stand there and look at all of those old buildings... I could almost see those horses tied up in front of the saloon ---and I could just imagine what all went on inside of that saloon... I think I even saw a stagecoach pull up!!!!!! ha ha ..... OH--can't you see how I can get into this stuff... SO interesting. Thanks!!!

  2. Stunning pictures as always. Enjoyed all your shots!

  3. Great post. You must also be a historian as well as a great writer and photographer. Very interesting

  4. This looks like such an inviting canyon. The old buildings are very well preserved. I guess what appeals to one culture of people calls to many through the ages.

  5. Such beautiful country and a great history lesson to boot. I love it!
    Thanks Janie

  6. Oh wonderful! I LOVE old Ghost Towns (have the now out-of-print Ghost Towns of Utah book in my collection). With all the recent news going on in 9 Mile Canyon I have heard of it but did not know there were so many old structures still there.

  7. Hi Janie, Your photos of this old ghost town are wonderful - I love the look of the weathered wood and that rusty piece of machinery. I once rode my bike from Green River to Price and on to Spanish Fork on my way cross country to CA - that first pic looks mighty familiar. Love the Header snow!

  8. Janie..I learn so much from your posts...great photos...

  9. History abounds all around this impressive back country you and Steve roam through.
    I am delighted that you share your wonderful trail rides, Janie.
    These are sights I would never get a chance to see and learn about the history, Thanks!

  10. This is an interesting and amazing history lesson.
    I can't believe those buildings are still standing as well as they are!!!
    Great photos Janie!

  11. I enjoyed this post very much. These landmarks are very familiar to me. My mom spent a lot of time in Myton, Duchesne, and the area around Nutter's ranch when she was growing up. She talks about it all the time.

  12. Thanks for this...really gives a grand perspective on the wild west, at least some of it...thanks again!

  13. That's rough country in more ways than one, but scenic in both ways as well: one just to look at the other to think back in time about while you're riding.

  14. Great post. I just love this kind of stuff.

  15. When we were at Eastern Sierra near Mono Lake, I bought a book from the local store of the shootout at convict lake. It is a true story happen locally in the area. For me its is so amazing that some of the things we saw in the old Hollywood Western movie are quite real!! Love your post!

  16. Such a beautiful area. It's fun to imagine what life was like back when stagecoaches traveled through. I love the old lodging house. :)

  17. Merry Christmas Janie....hope your doing well...



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