“Co-operative” was the key word at the Bluff Fort ribbon cutting to open the Bluff Co-op/ Visitors Center on May 17.
Not only was the early history of the Co-op celebrated, but Bluff Fort Director Frank Rowley also gave tribute to modern day cooperation, recognizing the docents and volunteer couples now serving at Bluff.
The continuous efforts of hundreds of people led to building “this crowning jewel of San Juan County,” as described by Hole in the Rock Foundation President Corinne Roring.
It was a heartfelt moment as Roring described how the Fort and Co-op were “built by miracles”.
“One by one, it has happened,” she said. The Co-op’s sole purpose is to tell the incredible story of pioneers who “chiseled their way through to San Juan. The story of those who came and colonized San Juan County will be preserved,” she emphasized.
Board member and former county commissioner Lynn Stevens gave tribute to Corinne’s persistence in pursuing her dream, despite roadblocks that occurred over the past ten years. Credit was given to Craig and Grant Taylor, who helped raise over $1 million. It is said of Grant, “His eyesight is dim, but his vision is bright.”
Stevens described how the struggling rag tag band of pioneers of 1880 built a community from tents and cabins, to stately homes of rock. By the time the Co-op was built and functioning, Bluff was considered one of the wealthiest places per capita west of the Mississippi.
By 1888, the Bluff Co-op had 8,000 new calves born, which led to a booming economy. He emphasized that there is “great value in telling this pioneer story.” He also complemented Joe Hurst and his workers from Tri-Hurst Construction on the exceptional job they had done since October, while working under government restrictions and regulations.
After Roring officially cut the ribbon, it was free ice cream (from a spiffy new ice cream maker) and homemade cookies. At 7 p.m., about 100 people attended the program celebrating the pioneer spirit, and Jens Nielson in particular.
Clive Romney sang, told stories, and involved the audience while showing how pioneers made “mole hills out of mountains”. The Panguitch quilt walk rescue, the story of Joseph and Belle Smith’s last wagon, were captivating examples of this maxim, as was his final song, about Bishop Nielson’s stick-i-de-tudy.
The Hall Above is decorated with art from local artists, and the Co-op store is full of good food, local art, crafts, and pioneer memorabilia. There will be free programs at 7 p.m. each Friday night at the Bluff Fort throughout the summer.