“President Hinckley Dedicates Cove Fort,” Ensign, July 1992, 77–78
Restoration work on Cove Fort, a nineteenth-century Mormon pioneer wilderness outpost located in south central Utah, is nearing completion, and the fort was dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley as a historic site on 9 May 1992.
“What has been done is a great and significant thing from the point of view of the Church, the state, and the nation,” said President Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency. “Once forts were found in abundance across this great land. Now there are very few left. Cove Fort is the only one of the pioneer Church forts which still stands in its entirety.”
During his address, President Hinckley spoke of the faith and sacrifice of the pioneers who built the fort, including his grandfather, Ira N. Hinckley.
During the dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley expressed gratitude for the “faith of our forebears, for the prophet Joseph Smith, for those who held their faith and testimony in higher regard than they held their very lives. … We’re grateful for the faith of those who came to Cove Creek in response to a call from a prophet of the Lord, who came without hesitation to do that which needed to be done, when it needed to be done.”
Elder Loren C. Dunn of the Seventy, executive director of the Church Historical Department, conducted the ceremonies. Restoration work on the fort was done under the supervision of the Church Historical Department.
Cove Fort was built by the Church in 1867 when Utah was a U.S. territory, but the property has changed hands over the years. In recent years, however, it was acquired by the Historic Cove Fort Acquisition and Restoration Foundation, an organization directed by the descendants of Mormon pioneer Ira N. Hinckley, under whose direction the fort was built in 1867. The organization donated the property to the Church in 1988.
The 100-by-100-foot walled-in structure includes a central courtyard and small rooms on the north and south furnished with 1867–77 period furniture.
Ira Hinckley was assigned by then Church President Brigham Young to take charge of what he called “the Church ranch at Cove Creek.” The fort served as protection for the telegraph and mail stations at Cove Creek and offered food and protection from bad weather to travelers through the area.
Those who benefitted by the presence of the fort included miners, prospectors, and emigrants moving from Salt Lake to southern colonies. Others included territorial officers and leaders of the Church who stopped overnight during travels to and from church conferences.
Ira Hinckley and those called to accompany him required nearly eight days to travel from Salt Lake City to Cove Creek, a trip covered today by automobile in three hours.
Visitors’ hours at the fort are 10:00 A.M. to dusk daily.