After the drive through Zion we stopped at an honor system fruit stand in Rockville and bought some plums, red and green tomatoes. Then we crossed the Virgin River on the historic Rockville Bridge on the way to historic Grafton.
The Rockville Bridge spans the east fork of the Virgin River, built in 1924 at the direction of the National Park Service, to link national parks and monuments, Cedar Breaks, Zion, Bryce, Pipe Springs and Grand Canyon with the rail head at Cedar City. The route was then sent around Smithsonian Butte which we may or may not have driven later. The Rockville route was discontinued in 1928 by the construction of the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
Settled in 1847 by Mormon pioneers, Grafton became a ghost town twice. During the 1860s the town washed away then relocated to higher ground before being abandoned after Navajo raids. Once the troubles settled down people returned to Grafton and constructed the adobe schoolhouse/church. Then in 1906 the town men helped build the Hurricane Canal and moved their families, and some even their houses, to Hurricane. And by 1945 the town once again became a ghost town.
In June 1997, the Grafton Heritage Partnership was organized to protect, preserve, and restore the Grafton Townsite with cooperation from former Grafton residents, the Utah State Historical Society, the BLM, the Utah Division of State History, and others. Originally built in 1862, the Alonzo Russell home, severely damaged by years of vandalism and weather, was restored in 2004. Restoration is more than a pretty façade. Comprehensive work included: removing stucco, rebuilding the underlying original adobe walls, reconstructing an interior staircase, two fireplaces and their chimneys, rebuilding the front porch and rear kitchen, reroofing the entire structure, and replacing all windows and doors. Much remains to be done.
The handcrafted fence surrounding the Berry gravesite in Grafton Cemetery, badly dilapidated by 2000, was restored in 2004. Parts were recrafted from existing fence remains and details from historic photographs.
The old townsite made a good movie set for westerns like In Old Arizona, the first talkie filmed outdoors in 1929, the following year The Arizona Kid, and Ramrod in 1947. Then in 1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, one of my all time favorites. I tried to get Bill to pose like Robert Redord riding a bicycle with his sweetheart school teacher on the handlebars yet he wasn’t cooperative. But we did watch the movie a few nights ago and I recognized the area. Unfortunately the school teacher’s house no longer remains. In 1981 the TV show Child Bridge of Short Creek was filmed here and in 1984 The Red Fury. Don’t remember seeing any of the others.
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