In 1888 when Ephraim Pectol was just 13 years old, his family moved to Cainsville, 20 miles east of what we now call Capitol Reef National Park. During his youth, he became very familiar with the beauty of this little "Garden of Eden," dry except for the ample waters of the Fremont River. Pectol named many of the rock features, names that are used today. He dubbed the whole area along the Fremont, "Wayne Wonderland." Wayne is the county.|
The main community was, and still is, the tiny town of Torrey, just 10 miles west of the Visitor Center. Pectol purchased a store there and his wife, Dorothy, ran it while he served as a school teacher and engaged in other civic matters.
Joe Hickman, the brother of Ephriam Pectol's wife, was about 12 years younger than Ephriam. The two were very active in promoting "Wayne Wonderland." Joe became a State legislator in 1924 and introduced a resolution to make Wayne Wonderland, a State Park. In a ceremony on July 20, 1925 featuring Governor George Dern, 16 acres and Hickman Bridge, a natural bridge near Fruita, were declared a state park. Four days later, Joe Hickman drowned while fishing from a boat with friends.
In 1933, Ephriam Pectol was elected to the state legislature and soon thereafter contacted President Franklin D. Roosevelt to request the creation of "Wayne Wonderland National Monument." The area was already largely federal land.
On August 2, 1937, the president signed Proclamation 2246 declaring the section from about 2 miles north of present highway 24 to about 10 miles south, "Capitol Reef National Monument." But development of the monument did not proceed until after World War II. Until then, Highway 24 was little more than a poor trail, not attractive to tourists.
Capitol Reef National Monument included about 10 small family ranches comprising the community of Fruita. Known as "Junction," prior to 1902, the community flourished from about 1880 to about 1960 when the National Park Service finally purchased all private parcels on a mutually consensual basis (According to NPS accounts).
National park status came in 1971 with the area increased to 242,000 acres to include essentially the entire waterpocket fold.
Fruita had a one-room school house and a few fruit orchards. The school house and orchards are preserved and maintained by the National Park Service from whom fruit picking permits may be obtained.
We camped in the beautiful tree shaded campground at Fruita beside the Fremont River and near one of the fine orchards. (The river is behind the bushes.)
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