Thursday, December 17, 2020

Eastern Sevier Valley

Continuing our southward trend, today we'll move down to the Sevier Valley. This will be a shorter post, as we'll only discuss the highway heading east from Richfield. Although a quick glance at a map shows several other state routes in this area, they are probably best saved for discussion in another post.

This is one of those surprisingly scenic regions that no one really ever talks about.

The main through routes in this area - US 89 and SR 24 - were around as state highways dating all the way back to the earliest days of the state highway system. But there was no connection between them in the Richfield area until 1931, when the state designated SR 119:

From Richfield easterly via Glenwood to junction with route 24 at Kings Meadow canyon.

The route began just east of Richfield at US 89 (legally SR 11) at the point where that route turned to the northeast towards Sigurd. 119 continued the alignment of 300 North eastward to Glenwood, then over the Rainbow Hills to SR 24 in Kings Meadow Canyon south of Sigurd. Here it is on the official Utah highway map from 1936, although the route was too small for the number to make the map:

USRC/Gousha, 1936.

As that map shows, one key difference between then and now is that the original alignment of SR 119 went directly through Glenwood, by way of Main and Center Streets. This was the case all the way until 1959, when a new northern bypass of Glenwood was built. SR 119 was moved to this bypass, and part of the old alignment was redesignated SR 263, keeping Glenwood on the state highway system:

From two blocks east of Glenwood City center west and north to Route 119.

The south end of SR 263 was at 200 East and Main Street (just to the upper right of the 263 marker in town). But although they were no longer part of a state highway, the roads beyond that retained some significance due to the Glenwood State Fish Hatchery. In fact, the road continuing Glenwood's Center Street to the hatchery is now known as Fish Hatchery Rd, and many maps label the alignment connecting the hatchery to the new SR 119 east of Glenwood as Fish Hatchery Cutoff Rd.

USGS (Sigurd), 1969.

But SR 263 would only last ten years. In 1969 the Utah state highway system was trimmed down significantly, and around 90 routes (most of them short minor connectors) were decommissioned. SR 263 was one of those, and ever since then Glenwood has been one of the few incorporated municipalities in Utah not directly served by a state highway.

That same year, several legislative designations for US 89 in central Utah were changed, though this did not involve any changes to signs on the ground. Previously, almost all of 89 south of Pigeon Hollow Junction had gone by the SR 11 designation. But in 1969, to avoid a legislative overlap between SR 11 and SR 4 (I-70), all of SR 11 north of Sevier was renumbered. Some portions of old 11 got brand new numbers, while others were covered by extensions of existing routes. SR 119 was one of those routes - it was extended west to Main Street in downtown Richfield, where it ended at the newly created SR 120. Again, it is important to note that this extension would still have been signed as only US 89.

The 1977 Utah renumbering generally eliminated the legislative route underlays for US and interstate routes, which would have truncated SR 119 back to its original endpoint east of Richfield...but this was not done for the section of US 89 between Sevier and Salina. Since the ultimate plan was to move US 89 onto I-70 between those locations once the interstate was complete, the legislative designations were retained as temporary designations for US 89, with the expectation that they would be signed in their entirety once 89 was moved to the completed I-70.

I-70 was completed through the area around 1988, and US 89 was moved to the interstate in 1992. But the western extension of 119 into Richfield was never signed: when 89 was moved, all of old US 89 from Austin to Sigurd was designated as a new SR 118. So the west end of SR 119 was truncated back to its original endpoint just east of Richfield, where signage for the route had always ended. Since then, there have been no additional changes.

UDOT, 2017.

Route Photos

SR 119

Heading east from SR 118 in Richfield along 300 North.

A lot of 119's utility is as a recreation access route - hence this mileage sign to Fish Lake (spelled as one word here) and Capitol Reef.

Another reassurance shield.

Turn left for Venice. Google claims this is SR 135, but to my knowledge it has never been a numbered route.

If Fishlake is one word, why isn't Fishhatchery a thing? Turn right to get there via the small town of Glenwood.

The sweeping right turn into Glenwood is here because it used to be SR 119, and was SR 263 for a time after that.

Reassurance marker after the turn to Glenwood.

This speed limit sign is most definitely not new.

119 starts climbing through some pretty neat terrain.

The BLM's Glenwood Hills Day Open Area is here. 

We'll keep climbing through some nice multicolored rock cuts

Looking back, we get a great view of Richfield and the Sevier Valley, with the Pavant Range behind it.

Not too far ahead, we'll junction SR 24, where one can turn left for Salina or right for Loa.

SR 119 ends.

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