"Cedar Breaks Amphitheater in Summer" by NPS Photo , public domain
History of Cedar Breaks National Monument (NM) in Utah. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Cedar Breaks National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Cedar Breaks National Monument Cedar City, Utah Historic Sites and Structures The First Visitors People have been visiting the Cedar Breaks area for at least 9,000 years. Seasonal campsites left by Desert Archaic people indicate that they came to hunt and to collect chert on the lower slopes of Brian Head Peak. Chert can easily be fashioned into arrowheads and other tools; archeological evidence suggests that the Desert Archaic people collected it primarily for use as a trade item. Since that time, visitors to the area have enjoyed its resources in a variety of ways. Minnie’s Mansion European Americans had settled below Brian Head Peak by 1868. Because most of the settlers were of Irish descent, the area became known as “Little Ireland. ” Like the Desert Archaic people before them, their habitation of the high plateau was seasonal: most families owned small herds of dairy cattle which they moved up to the mountains for summer pasture. By 1921, the Adams Family had built a lodge, known as “Minnie’s Mansion, ” in Cedar Breaks Lodge what is now the northern section of the Monument. The Mansion offered dining, lodging, and dancing to area residents. Old timers recall that people came from as far away as Nevada to attend Utah Pioneer Day celebrations on July 24. Minnie’s Mansion was short-lived—the summer seasons weren’t long enough to turn a profit, and the establishment closed within five years. Today only traces of its foundations can be found. By the time Minnie’s Mansion ceased operation, a new establishment had opened on the south rim of Cedar Breaks: Cedar Breaks Lodge. Built in 1924, the lodge was owned by the Utah Parks Company, a subsidiary of the Union Pacific Railroad. The railroad hoped to attract rail passengers by developing a “loop tour” starting in Cedar City and connecting Zion, Bryce, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and Cedar Breaks. Breaks for dinner before heading back to the “Dudes, ” as the tourists were known, train depot in Cedar City. A dollar twentytraveled in small tour buses driven by “gearfive bought a chicken dinner, complete with jammers. ” mashed potatoes, gravy, homemade bread and dessert. The Lodge seated 120 people—some All theUtah Parks Company lodges were designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood, who nights the tables were set three times to accomodate tour buses and locals who had would later design the famous Awahnee come up to spend the evening. Lodge at Yosemite. Cedar Breaks was the smallest of the lodges. Utah Parks tour buses stopped at Cedar The Civilian Conservation Corps at Cedar Breaks On August 22nd, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared Cedar Breaks a National Monument. Once the Monument was established, however, it still had to be developed. Fortunately, 1933 also saw the establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps, otherwise known as the CCC. This program was designed to provide work for unemployed men during the Great Depression. Enrollees were young men between the ages of 18 and 25 whose families were on federal relief. They agreed to send $25 of their $30 monthly paycheck home to support their families. In addition, they received room, board, clothing, and technical training. In 1937 a detail of 27 men from the Zion CCC camp were detailed to Cedar Breaks to begin construction of a Visitor Center and Ranger Cabin. Visitor Center under construction, 1937 These structures exhibit classic National Park Service rustic architecture. The log cabin style recalls America’s pioneer heritage. The buildings are also designed to appear as if they are a natural part of the environment. The massive fireplaces and sweeping cut of the log ends make the buildings appear to rise out of the earth organically. Both buildings are on the national register of historic places. “We got hailed on, we got snowed on, but we had a lot of fun doing the job. ” Henry A Bott, Jr., CCC worker at Cedar Breaks The Visitor Center Today “What upset me most in my life, really, was to go up there one time and find that beautiful old lodge, Cedar Breaks Lodge, was torn down, cleaned up, and hauled away. So many of us didn’t know it was happening at all. ” Ray Knell Former “gear-jammer” Utah Parks Company The End of an Era After World War II, the increase in automobile travel led to a decline in rail travel. Never profitable in themselves, the lodges became a drain on UP resources. The Utah Parks company donated the lodges to the National Park Service in 1970. It was determined that Cedar Breaks Lodge was uneconomical to maintain, and it was torn down in 1972. Further Reading Stanley Cohen. The Tree Army: A Pictoral History of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Pictoral Histories Publishing Co., 1993. Christine Barnes. Great Lodges of the National Parks. WW West Inc. , 2002. Albert A. Good. Park and Recreation Structures. Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999. ---. Patterns from the Golden Age of Rustic Design: Park and Recreation Structures from the 1930s. Landham, MD: Robert Rinehart, 2003. Linda Flint McClelland. Building the National Parks: Historic Landscape Design of the National Park Service. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. Revised 2006 EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA