National Geographic : 1967 Jul
Perilous defile, Hole in the Rock witnessed heroic deeds in the winter of 1879-80. To this place came a band of Mormon pioneers-about 250 men, women, and children in 80 covered wagons-on a journey from Escalante, Utah, to the San Juan River, where they hoped to plant a colony. Here they faced a terrible obstacle-the deep, swift Col orado River in its seemingly impassable gorge. But they found one cleft that offered hope of reaching the river. Blasting an opening through the "Hole," they carved a road down the 45-degree slope. At the river they built a raft, and on the opposite side hacked another road up the face of the 250-foot cliffs. Then they actually drove the wagons down the precipitous rock chute seen at right, from which erosion has long since swept away most of the road's sur face. Teams of oxen, horses, or mules helped slow the wagons, and men and boys hung on as human brakes. Incredibly, the Mormons lost not a wagon. Across the Colorado the trail led between huge flat sided boulders on which the pioneers scratched their ini tials and names. Their auto graphs survive on Register Rocks (above), a reminder to Powell visitors today of the indomitable frontier spirit. KODACHROMES © N.G .S.