The Old Spanish Trail Arena in Spanish Valley may be 190 miles from Spanish Fork in the Utah Valley west of the Wasatch, but it’s not far from the spot in Moab where travelers along the Old Spanish Trail crossed the Colorado River. Officially known as the Old Spanish Trail National Historic Trail, it’s been called “the longest, crookedest, most arduous pack mule route in the history of America.” And now, almost 170 years after it was abandoned, the Moab Museum has been designated a certified partner with the National Park Service (NPS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for interpreting the Trail.
In the early 1820s, the newly independent republic of Mexico needed a direct route to supply their missions in southern California and strengthen their territorial claim to what is now the American Southwest. From Santa Fe caravans of pack mules carried woven textiles, clothing, quilts and other trade goods to California ranchos, then returned with horses and mules for sale to eastern buyers. The trail entered southeastern Utah near Monticello, crossed the Colorado River at Moab and the Green River near the town of Green River, headed northwest across the San Rafael Swell to Castle Dale, then down the Sevier Valley to St. George and on to Los Angeles.
While the Museum has been the NPS designated Passport site for the Old Spanish Trail Historic National Trail for several years, our designation as a certified interpretive site creates new possibilities for programmatic collaboration and public awareness.
Another important partnership is evolving between Moab Museum and the Utah Museum of Natural History (UMNH), Utah’s state museum of natural history located near the University of Utah campus. UMNH’s mission to “illuminate the natural world and the place of humans within it” complements the Moab Museum’s goal to inspire and foster awareness of natural and cultural history – and is particularly relevant as our new exhibit features marine, botanical and dinosaur specimens reveals the region’s paleogeologic history.
The Natural History Markers of Utah program is a statewide initiative to promote science education and engagement through the installation of a permanent commemorative marker at or near an iconic location in every Utah County. UMNH is sponsoring the Marker program to celebrate its 50th anniversary in collaboration with regional tourism councils to tell each County’s “Uniquely Utah” story through its remarkable natural history. The Marker design is inspired by the classic U.S. Geological Survey benchmark markers that are familiar to hikers and climbers throughout the West.
Grand County’s Marker features State Dinosaur Utahraptor and is located in the lawn just west of the Moab Museum’s front entrance. For decades the Museum has promoted awareness of Grand County’s natural and cultural history, with a special focus on the geology and human history of canyon country, so serving as the host site for the Marker is an honor. We thank Elaine Gizler at the Moab Area Travel Council and the Grand County and Moab City councils for their enthusiastic support.
Together, these designations reflect the Museum’s effort to establish programmatic partnerships with key institutions and agencies in the region.
For more info visit moabmuseum.org.
Red Cliffs Lodge, on the banks of the mighty Colorado River, is home to the Moab Museum of Film & Western Heritage. The lodge is built on the old George White Ranch, a key location for nine of the big westerns including Rio Grande, Cheyenne Autumn, Ten Who Dared, The Commancheros, and Rio Conchos.
The late George White was founder of the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission, the longest ongoing film commission in the world.
In the museum one can learn more about film locations, how the sets are built, and how the filming process is managed on nature’s own sound stage. On display in the museum are production photographs, movie posters, autographed scripts, props from the many pictures filmed in the area, and displays about the western ranching heritage. For information, call Red Cliffs Lodge at 435-259-2002.
Through the magnificent landscapes of southeastern Utah, writers have been inspired and stories born here. Zane Grey, the famous western novelist, traveled through the area in 1912. His visit inspired him to write his book Riders of the Purple Sage. The book was made into a movie starring Ed Harris and Amy Madigan, and filmed on locations around Moab.
|A partial list of stars that have made movies in Moab
John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Henry Fonda, Lee Marvin,
Rock Hudson, Jimmy Stewart, Richard Boone, Anthony Quinn,
Mickey Rooney, Shirley Temple, Kris Kristofferson, Billy Crystal,
Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman, Bill Murray, Jack Palance, Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Ted Danson, Tom Cruise, and many more.