Cove Fort Historical Site

Portions of the following taken from “Heartthrobs of the West,” compiled by Sister Allison Toronto.

The Cove Creek area was settled in the 1860s by Charles Willden and two other families. The Willden Fort, as it became known, included two houses, a dugout and a corral, in 1861, accommodating three families. Nine acres of grain and many fruit trees were planted. The Willdens moved south to Beaver and finally abandoned the Fort in 1865 following to Indian attacks and the death of his sheep and many calves.

By 1867, President Brigham Young realized the need of a strong and safe haven for all the travelers so he called Ira N. Hinckley to oversee the construction of Cove Fort, with LDS Church funds, as a travelers’ way station and refuge from the Indians. Ira N. Hinckley built the fort and maintained it as a hostelry and residence until 1890. Ira brought his wife and children to the property after completing the Fort.

Construction started in April of 1867 and was completed November 1867, the walls enclose 100 square feet of land, and are 18 feet high, four feet thick at the base and two feet thick at the top. It includes 4,500 tons of volcanic rock, 34,342 feet of hand hewn lumber and 1,974 bushels of lime. Cove Creek was outside the fort, furnishing drinking and irrigation water. The gates are on the east and west sides and six rooms were built along both the north and south walls of the fort.

One of the twelve original rooms was a telegraph station for the Desert Telegraph Company. Another room was used as the stage coach office and mail room. It was a place of safety to the stage coach passengers and United States Mail. There were thousands of travelers, the good and the bad, the timid and the venturesome, the saint and the desperado who were sheltered within its strong walls. Cove Fort even housed the freight, a load of gold bullion, from Pioche, Nevada. Cove Fort was also established as place of refuge on the main route south and west which provided a resting place for travelers on their way to Southern Utah and California.

Seldom there is a man or woman who stops to hear the unique story of the old fort that will not feel a sort of sacredness as they enter the grounds. The large trees in and around the Fort were planted by pioneer hands in 1868 and still provide visitors with shade and beauty. You feel like the Fort is still in use as you go in each room and learn how the pioneers lived. They had to have had great faith to sustain them each day out in the wilderness. It is one of the places in Utah that feels sacred and stands as a real monument to pioneer life, to pioneer forts and to the people who lived in them.