Cove Fort, Utah, was built on the earlier site of Willden’s Fort, constructed in 1861 by Elliot Willden and consisting of just three rooms and a dugout. By 1865, however, Indian attacks were becoming too common, and Elliot Willden moved his family south to the town of Beaver.
Willden’s moving left travelers without sanctuary from hostile Indians in the same year the Black Hawk War began. So, two years later, Brigham Young ordered that a new fort be built with church funds to protect travelers through the area.
Between April and November of 1867, quarrymen, stonemasons, carpenters, and laborers from nearby settlements worked together to construct the fort under the direction of Ira Hinckley, the construction superintendent. When it was complete, the “new” fortress again provided a refuge for settlers, protecting them from hostile Indians and acting as a way station for travelers between Salt Lake City and Mormon settlements in the Virgin River Valley and southern Nevada and California. The site was a favorite camping place of Brigham Young, himself, who made frequent trips to southwestern Utah. One of its 12 original rooms housed a telegraph station on the Mormon line. Other rooms served as a stage station and post office. Fortunately, Indians never attacked or besieged the fort.
The fort’s builder, Ira N. Hinckley, maintained it as a residence until 1877. After his move, several different families occupied the fort property.
Today, Cove Fort is owned by the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Church, which operates as a museum. It is the only fort built by the church in the 1800s that still stands in Utah. Parts of the original fort buildings have been restored, and the barn and blacksmith shop have been re-created.
The site is open daily and is free. Free guided tours are available. Reservations are suggested for groups of 20 or more. The fort is immediately northeast of the junction of I-15 and I-70, 24 miles north of Beaver and 20 miles south of Kanosh, Utah.
Cove Fort Historic Site
Cove Fort, Utah