Cove Fort is a beautifully preserved pioneer fort that was built in 1867 to provide safety, shelter, fresh water and livestock feed for travelers on the road from St. George, Utah to Salt Lake City, Utah. The settlement here was part of a network of waystations connected by roads, telegraph lines, and postal routes. It was completed in just eight months and its walls were built from volcanic rock and limestone quarried nearby. They are 4-feet wide at the base and 2-feet wide at the top. The outer walls are 100-feet square and 18-feet high with 12 rooms inside - six on the north and six on the south.
This fort is located near Cove Creek which was the site of a previous settlement called Fort Willden. This settlement was maintained from 1860-1865 when it was abandoned due to severe winters and the outbreak of the Blackhawk Indian War. Two years later, Mormon leader Brigham Young requested Ira N. Hinckley to build a fort in this area because of the scarcity of water here.
Cove Fort never suffered an Indian attack mostly due to the efforts of the famous Paiute Chief Kanosh. He became a friend of the pioneers and was baptized into the Mormon Church. He intervened on behalf of the pioneers on one occasion. Mormon leader Brigham Young also directed the pioneers to feed the Indians rather than fight, so the pioneers taught them how to farm and build homes. At one time two Indians worked in the kitchen at the fort.
For more than 20 years the fort bustled with activity. News of the great, growing west came over the lines in the telegraph office in the fort and postal riders delivered the news of the new western “empire” to the post office. Two stage coaches each day arrived with travelers, while others arrived by wagon and stabled their horses in the barn. Hinckley was also a blacksmith who provided horseshoeing and wagon repair.
But when the railroad went through in 1869, the fort began to lose its usefulness and after the turn of the century the Mormon Church sold the fort to the Kesler family. After nearly 100 years, the Hinckley family purchased the fort in 1988 and gifted it back to the Mormon Church as a historic site. Efforts to restore the fort to its original condition began on May 21, 1994. The Historic Cove Fort Complex was dedicated by Gordon B. Hinckley, a descendant of Ira Hinckley’s.
Also located at this site is Ira Hinckley’s original cabin that was moved here from Coalville, Utah where he lived before coming to Cove Creek. The original barn which was 60-feet square and 30-feet high was reconstructed next to the fort and the blacksmith shacks and gardens and fields are still worked around the fort. There are also restrooms, a picnic area, and a visitor center which shows a movie.
Cove Fort now receives more than 82,000 visitors annually and is one of only three forts listed on the National Register of Historic sites.
“Discovering Millard County” magazine.
Cove Fort interpretive site information, tour guides and brochures.
Fillmore, Utah 15 miles.
Turn off I-15 at Cove Fort exit and travel two miles east on paved road toward junction of I-70.
Free tours by Mormon missionaries dressed in period clothing from 8 a.m. till sunset daily except in bad weather.
Free picnic areas and restrooms are provided.
Cove Fort Historic Site, HC-74 Box 6500, Cove Fort, Utah 84713. 435-438-5547.