History of Hole in the Rock, Utah
Taken from the Utah History Encyclopedia. (Links Added)

In the spring of 1880 a direct supply and access road connecting southwestern and southeastern Utah was completed. Known as the Hole-In-The-Rock Trail, its direct penetration through the Colorado River gorge and surrounding topography shortened distances over alternative routes by up to hundreds of miles. Built by Mormon pioneers answering a mission call to colonize the southeastern section of the territory, the trail provided a crucial link for one year before the most rugged stretches were bypassed with the opening of Hall's Crossing.

The mission which resulted in the trail's construction was initiated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to secure peaceful relations with the Indians and to open the area to further colonization. After four months of exploring for a feasible route to their intended destination, the pioneers selected a direct route from Escalante. Although it was the least explored of all the possible routes, it was by far the shortest.

As winter approached at the end of November 1879, 250 men, women, and children, with 80 wagons and 1,000 head of cattle, found themselves up against terribly broken, seemingly impassable terrain. The settlers had been en route for more than two weeks when they reached the 1,200-foot-deep Colorado River gorge, sixty-five miles southeast of Escalante.

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