Scenic Byway 143 Utah’s Patchwork Parkway serves as the western gateway from the arid Great Basin of western Utah to Utah’s breathtaking high plateaus. Connecting to both Heritage Highway 89 and Scenic Byway 12, Utah’s Patchwork Parkway is bookmarked by historic pioneer communities at each end of the route, which was once traveled by ancient inhabitants to hunt, fish, and gather tools and food.
Early settlers desperate for food once crossed the plateau in midwinter using handmade quilts laid atop deep snow to reach settlements to the west. Such quilts are reminders of the patchwork of the byway’s unparalleled scenery, vibrant history and natural beauty unequaled across the country.
Today, travelers of Utah’s Patchwork Parkway begin their trek in historic communities where examples of early Mormon pioneer settlement and culture abound. The communities of Parowan and Panguitch contain a large concentration of 19th-century architecture and historic sites. The entire original Panguitch townsite is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These two town sites were previously home to ancient native peoples who left behind an abundance of petroglyphs, pictographs, and more. Additional evidence indicates that these early inhabitants followed ancient migration routes into the high elevation expanses capped by Cedar Breaks National Monument, where vistas extend for hundreds of miles. This high elevation landscape is home to Brian Head, Utah’s highest elevation community and southernmost ski area, as well as other year-round resorts.
Archeological Quality involves those characteristics of the scenic byways corridor that are physical evidence of historic or prehistoric human life or activity that are visible and capable of being inventoried and interpreted. The scenic byway corridor’s archeological interest, as identified through ruins, artifacts, structural remains, and other physical evidence have scientific significance that educate the viewer and stir an appreciation of the past.
Utah’s Patchwork Parkway follows ancient migration routes used by native family clans moving from their Great Basin wintering grounds to high summer hunting and gathering lands. The Sevier Fremont culture and earlier Archaic hunter-gatherers left evidence of their passage, especially withrock art. This is especially apparent at nearby Parowan Gap just west of Parowan,where more than fifty inhabitited sites, hunting places and rock art panels give evidence that the people who once lived in the area were familiar with the Mesoamerica calendar used by ancient cultures in the southwest and Mexico Southern Paiute peoples inhabited the region at the time of European settlement. Sizable villages were located in or near many of the locations eventually used as town sites. Some of the highest elevation prehistoric Paiute village sites known occur near Brian Head. Much of the Markagunt Plateau was used for hunting and gathering.
Historic Quality encompasses legacies of the past that are distinctly associated with physical elements of the landscape, whether natural or man made, that are of such historic significance that they educate the viewer and stir an appreciation for the past. The historic elements reflect the actions of people and include buildings, settlement patterns, and other examples of human activity.
History of the Utah’s Patchwork Parkway Archaic hunter-gatherers and the Sevier Fremont culture were the first known inhabitants of the region. Petroglyphs, pit-houses, arrowheads and pottery dating from A.D. 750 to 1250 have been found in the area and are evidence that it contained a major thoroughfare of early Native Americans. At nearby Parowan Gap, a natural mountain pass twelve miles northwest of Parowan,ancient inhabitants inscribed petroglyphs on smooth-surfaced boulders that feature snakes,lizards, mouse-men, bear claws, andmountain sheep.
The Old Spanish Trail traverses the northern and western fringes of the byway’s Area of Influence. The Trail linked two provinces of Mexico separated by such difficult topography and climatic extremes that,despite attempts beginning as early as 1776, a route was successfully opened only in1829. In that year Antonio Armijo, amerchant from Santa Fe, led 60 men and 100 mules on the known trails blazed north wardby trappers and traders with the Utes, and backtracked along the route Spanish padres Dominguez and Escalante recorded as they returned to Santa Fe from southern Utah more than fifty years earlier. News of the opening of trade with California resulted in immediate commerce between Santa Fe and Los Angeles. With a few exceptions, pack trains made annual treks between New Mexico and California, bringing woven Mexican products to California, which lacked sheep, and bartering them for horses and mules, scarce in New Mexico. Emigrants from New Mexico began to take the Spanish Trail to California in the late 1830s, and outlaws used the trail to raid the California ranchos. Raids for Indian slaves became common, with victims sold at either end of the trail despite official condemnation of the practice. The traffic inhuman beings reverberated among the peoples who lived along the trail for many years longer than the caravans plied their trade.
Early in 2002, Senator Campbell introduced the Old Spanish Trail Recognition Act. In 2002, Congress passed the bill unanimously.
Southern Paiutes were the first to meet the early pioneers. Mormon settlers moved into the Parowan area in 1851, forging a wagon trail up Parowan Canyon to access timber for the settlement that would become the staging ground for settlement across southern Utah and the greater southwest. Parowan is now known as the “Mother Town of the Southwest”.
Monument to Parley P. Pratt located in the Parowan Heritage Park marking the spot where the first party of LDS settlers camped while exploring the region in1850. The flagpole they erected is still standing.