View Larger Map Use your mouse to move and zoom this image showing the gravesite as it’s seen from Hwy 9.
This is the only sign left of a small town named Duncan’s Retreat. It’s just a memory now and nothing but a roadside marker along State Highway 9 leading east to Zion National Park.
Water is an important resource in the desert southwest and getting it from the Virgin River into the fields of small farms was extremely important. According to author George Thompson’s book “Some Dreams Die” an early pioneer, Chapman Duncan, attempted to create a canal to move water to the local farmers. He was held in high esteem for surveying and digging the canal until the water was released into it. It didn’t flow at all. Seems Duncan had made a huge error by surveying it uphill. He was humiliated and the settlers decided to show their anger by naming the new settlement Duncan’s Retreat. Duncan found redemption by resurveying and digging a new canal.
The area between Rockvile and Virgin became a bountiful source of corn, cotton, fruit and sorghum. It’s also thought tobacco was grown as well. Apparently Brigham Young, the leader of the local Mormon community had made a comment regarding tobacco, “if you had to be a slave of the weed” you should grow your own. The farmers took his word on that and in 1864 the census shows a bumper crop for the “vile weed”. Around 1863 a schoolhouse and post office were erected but sadly by the end of the decade the entire area was abandoned because of the Blackhawk Indian War. There was an attempt to rebuild the town by a fellow named William Martindale. The town of Duncan’s Retreat was reborn and reached a new population of 79 but because of the constant flooding of the Virgin River it was finally abandoned in 1890. Today, all that remains of Duncan’s retreat is the roadside gravesite of Nancy Ferguson Ott, who was only known as a wife of one of the towns men of Duncan’s Retreat.
More Information about the early pioneers who tried to make a new life along the Virgin River between Rockville and Virgin, Utah.
So far I have no information on this overnight one vehicle accident. One of our campers spotted the wreck as the park Shuttle bus crossed over the Junction Bridge early this morning. This occurred at the entrance to the Zion scenic canyon along Highway 9. You might remember this bridge from one of my previous posts. Update 042313 – Thankfully nobody was hurt and the fellow walked up the hill to get help. This is the second time in one month somebody has gone over the side here. Although the speed limit at this corner location is 25 mph it’s not uncommon to see folks driving by at much higher speeds. This guy is lucky. But he was driving so fast he took flight as he left the roadway and arched downward colliding with one of the tree limbs. He took out an entire branch. That’s a car down there near the Virgin River!
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