Portions of the following taken from “Heartthrobs of the
West,” compiled by Sister Allison Toronto.
The Cove Creek area was settled in the 1860s by Charles Willden and two
other families. The Willden Fort, as it became known, included two
houses, a dugout and a corral, in 1861, accommodating three families.
Nine acres of grain and many fruit trees were planted. The Willdens
moved south to Beaver and finally abandoned the Fort in 1865 following
to Indian attacks and the death of his sheep and many calves.
By 1867, President Brigham Young realized the need of a strong and safe
haven for all the travelers so he called Ira N. Hinckley to oversee the
construction of Cove Fort, with LDS Church funds, as a travelers’
way station and refuge from the Indians. Ira N. Hinckley built the
fort and maintained it as a hostelry and residence until 1890. Ira
brought his wife and children to the property after completing the
Construction started in April of 1867 and was completed November 1867,
the walls enclose 100 square feet of land, and are 18 feet high, four
feet thick at the base and two feet thick at the top. It includes 4,500
tons of volcanic rock, 34,342 feet of hand hewn lumber and 1,974
bushels of lime. Cove Creek was outside the fort, furnishing drinking
and irrigation water. The gates are on the east and west sides and six
rooms were built along both the north and south walls of the fort.
One of the twelve original rooms was a telegraph station for the Desert
Telegraph Company. Another room was used as the stage coach office and
mail room. It was a place of safety to the stage coach passengers and
United States Mail. There were thousands of travelers, the good and the
bad, the timid and the venturesome, the saint and the desperado who
were sheltered within its strong walls. Cove Fort even housed the
freight, a load of gold bullion, from Pioche, Nevada. Cove Fort was
also established as place of refuge on the main route south and west
which provided a resting place for travelers on their way to Southern
Utah and California.
Seldom there is a man or woman who stops to hear the unique story of
the old fort that will not feel a sort of sacredness as they enter the
grounds. The large trees in and around the Fort were planted by pioneer
hands in 1868 and still provide visitors with shade and beauty. You
feel like the Fort is still in use as you go in each room and learn how
the pioneers lived. They had to have had great faith to sustain them
each day out in the wilderness. It is one of the places in Utah that
feels sacred and stands as a real monument to pioneer life, to pioneer
forts and to the people who lived in them.