HURRICANE — As part of Hurricane’s 17th annual “Peach Days” celebration, approximately 35 people gathered early Saturday morning to participate in a guided tour of the Canal Trail and learn about the unique history of the area and how it went from desert to fertile land.
Greg Last, hike leader and self-proclaimed lover of Hurricane, guided the guests, beginning at age 7 and going up from there, along the route. The trail shows the visionary efforts of the community in the late 1800s and early 1900s in diverting water from the Virgin River to the Hurricane Bench.
Envisioned in 1893 by two men, James Jepson and John Steele, the canal, according to information from the Bureau of Land Management, was seen as the culmination of efforts by the communities in the area.
The canal was built mostly with hand tools by farmers who had difficulty with flooding and needed more cultivatable land.
Read more about Peach Days: Hurricane’s 17th annual Peach Days, celebrating heritage, tradition
The canal project was almost doomed before its completion when money ran out, Last said on the hike, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stepped in by purchasing stock in the project and providing the necessary funds to complete the canal.
According to the BLM Web page, water flowed into the Hurricane Bench on Aug. 6, 1904, creating 2,000 acres of fertile land.
Many of the guests were first-timers to the hike, such as Karalie Miner and her children. Miner joined the hike to support community activities and get her family moving.
Miner and her family members have only lived in Hurricane for a year, she said, adding that it is nice to know the history of the place they live in.
Sherry L. Beaumont works at the Hurricane Pioneer Museum and had never done the hike before, she said, but figured she ought to experience it so she could better inform patrons at the museum.
The hike is rated strenuous by the BLM for its length, exposure to steep drop-offs, narrow widths and steep grades.
There are 12 tunnels found along the hike, two of which can be explored, but experts urge hikers to bring flashlights, as the longest tunnel is 40 feet in length and is pitch black at its center point.
There are bypasses for hikers who do not wish to explore the caves.
Some of the guests did have difficulties with the steep drop-offs and the low clearance of the caves; but, overall, the hike was viewed as a success.
Miner said she will definitely be back to explore some more.
- Canal Trail | Web page
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