Tourism History

Tourism History of the Area

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By Dixie Brunner

Tourism has always been a key element in Kane County’s economy. But early settlers made little mention in their journals of the incredible splendor of the scenery surrounding them. Perhaps that’s because the dramatic geography presented a real challenge for just staying alive!

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Jacob Lake Cabin

The historic Jacob Lake Cabin is a nice stop when touring the North Kaibab National Forest. Photo by Forest Service.

Mormon rancher Ebenezer Bryce, who Bryce Canyon National Park was later named, said the park’s maze of poking red spires would be “a hell of a place to lose a cow.”

Edwin Dilworth Woolley was one of the first to appreciate the grandeur of southern Utah. He was awestruck when he first espied the Grand Canyon while working as a cattleman. “This is one of the Wonders of the World,” wrote Woolley in a journal. “People will come from all quarters of the globe and will pay great sums of money to gaze on what we now behold...”

During the late 1880s, John W. Young (son of Mormon leader), was representing the LDS Church in England when he came up with a marketing scheme for this area. He thought the Kaibab could be a private recreation area for English aristocracy.

Young acquired major holdings and stocked it with horses and cattle. The plan fell through, but he continued to promote the Kaibab as a great hunting ground and potential tourism center with hotels and lodges for English nobility.

Young induced “Buffalo Bill” Cody to act as guide for a group of Englishmen who were exploring the area for marketing potential. Unfortunately, the Brits decided the Kaibab was too far away, and too difficult to reach.

The 1900s and the establishment of the Utah State Road Commission helped develop good roads throughout the state. The advent of automobiles into the area brought public attention to the incredible, remote beauty of southern Utah.

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