Sunday, February 27, 2011

Is Blanding really as boring as it sounds (Part 1)?

I spent the last couple of days in Blanding, Utah and decided to take my blog to Southern Utah.  For everyone who doesn't know, Blanding is located in the Southeast corner of Utah.  My expectations for the city were extremely low, especially since its name is Blanding.  It is located between Monticello and Mexican Hat.  How cool can a city be when it surrounded by other cities that are named after Thomas Jefferson's house and a sombrero?  Is Blanding as bland as it sounds?  

As I pulled into the city, the Sinclair station was my first impression

If you're as confused as I was, don't worry.  Yes it does look like in front of the Sinclair has station there is a brontosaurus being humped by a t-rex, being humped by a dragon.  I can't decided whether this is a prank pulled by some local teenagers or if this was actually the intention of the artist.  Whatever it was, the statue stayed like this the whole time I was in the town.

The pictures that I found didn't have any dates on them.  I am guessing that they were from the early 20th Century.  One interesting thing about Blanding is that it was settled by pioneers who traveled through the famed hole in the rock route.  This was the expedition where a group of pioneers descended a canyon with slopes around 45 degrees towards what is now Lake Powell.

The first picture that I came across is the Nilson residence.  This was the first house built in Blanding, and wasn't bad for the first one.  I couldn't find any history on the building and it looks like it hasn't changed much.

          Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

The next building I came across was the Blanding Tabernacle (although it currently has a different name).  Once again, I couldn't find any historical information about this building.  The picture on the left was taken right after construction and before landscaping happened.  So the building is as old as the trees in front.  Any guesses on how old the trees look?

              Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

The final photo is I guess what you would call downtown.  The building on the right was the Grayson Co-op Store, now a True Value.  The building in the middle was demolished, and the building on the left is the bank.  The bank was built either in 1907 or 1909.  It is now a Dryer's Ice Cream Store, which for some reason was closed on a Friday afternoon.  In the picture on the left, a pack of mules is being loaded and taken towards Natural Bridges National Monument.
            Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

As for the future developments, there is more sad news.  There is a state park located on the town's border called Edge of the Cedars State Park (I'll be honest, I didn't visit it.  It didn't sound very fun.  Going to see a bunch of cedar trees; I can do that somewhere else).  Recently, the state of Utah was trying to balance its budget after a year in the red.  According to this KSL article, there were 5 different parks around the state that were going to be closed in order to save some extra money, one of which was the Edge of the Cedars.  However in recent developments, the state allocated enough money to keep the park open for an additional year.  It isn't know though if there will be money after this year to continue financing the park.

So is Blanding just bland?  After my first day there, I was thinking the answer was an emphatic yes.  It seems like the town hasn't changed in the last 100 years.  I was impressed to find that the College of Eastern Utah and Utah State University have a very nice campus satellite located in Blanding.  But besides the college, I didn't see anything going for the City.

Stayed tuned for Part 2 for the conclusion of "Is Blanding really as boring as it sounds?".


  1. Can I be honest? You proved what I already knew, Blanding isn't very exciting. But I like how you can find these places and their old pictures. So, do you take requests? (no, not my apartment building but I don't know if it's earlier than the 40s.)
    Good to see you Saturday night! Glad you remember me.

  2. Hey, before you go blasting on Blanding, you've gotta read the Part 2. Yes I'd love to take requests. The only thing is that I have to find an old picture of the request (which I would prefer to be from the early 20th century although Im not picky). It was great to see you too!

  3. Hey Chad! What a cool blog. I spent a week in Blanding one day too. There are a lot of petroglyphs down along the river too. I didn't know about the ruins--I may have to go back.