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Bullfrog Basin - 1976 Plan

JFRCalifornia

Escalante-Class Member
It's amazing the kind of things you find when you dig a little bit. In my front yard, I once found a toy Seattle Seahawks helmet buried for years, probably owned by the kids who used to live here, and I don't live anywhere near Seattle.

Same kind of discovery goes for Lake Powell. Here's a link to the 1976 Bullfrog Basin Plan, something I had no idea existed:

https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/32548244.pdf

It's interesting for a lot of reasons. There's the 1970s graphics, for one. But mostly it's the fact that it was done at all, and was thinking ahead to the future. It's also quite a snapshot in time, and includes graphics (attached below) that shows exactly what facilities were at Bullfrog in 1975 and planned for the future. The document was put together for two stated reasons, right there on page 2:

1. "Storms have continually battered the marina resulting in frequent loss of property to both the concessioner and visitors;" and

2. "Existing development was planned and laid out a number of years ago. It does not respond to today's visitor and management needs or today's concern about the importance and necessity of working with the environment."

In the plan, it talks a little about past history at Bullfrog, noting that it first began to be developed in 1965, not as a "marina" per se, but as a "water-oriented recreational service base", an intriguing choice of words on page 7 of the report. There was apparently a 1967 plan (haven't found it yet), but whatever that plan included, it must have led to some problems. The 1976 plan describes two-hour waits to launch boats at peak season, storms that damaged the marina facilities every year, inadequate visitor services. The marina had apparently been moved from a different cove between 1965 and 1975.

Looking ahead with optimism, the plan was written mostly in 1975, at a time the lake was rising but not yet full, hovering in the 3660-3670 range. It describes "full" as being 3711, which is interesting in itself. In planning for the future, it considers three lake levels: 3711 (full), 3650 (more or less average), and 3570 (low water). It predicts the probability of maintaining full pool into the future, with a graph up to the year 2000 (notably and quite interestingly predicting a likely decline after reaching a peak in the early 1980s). It considers lots of possible future activities, from lodging, swimming, permanent ferry service, boat storage, rentals, relocating facilities, parking, and puts a cost to all of it: $27 million in 1974 dollars. It even considers a variety fo alternatives, no doubt structured to look like a federal NEPA document, so it could get environmental clearance. One intriguing idea considered but rejected was moving some facilities to Hansen Creek, or possibly Stanton Creek. Go to the link, and read all about it.

The plan assumes (correctly) that visitation would continue to rise in the future, from the 70-90,000 annual visitors in 1972-74, and so they wanted to be ready. The plan does not envision a time when the lake would be below 3570, as it is today.

It's a notable document to see paths taken and not taken, but mostly to see what was in place at the time the lake was in its early years, and how planning intended to respond to accelerating changes on the lake...

Bullfrog 1975 Existing Development.jpgBullfrog 1975 Concept Plan.jpg
 
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Dougie

Well-Known Member
Note Page 73 Hansen Creek seemed “superior” site for expansion but ends up not being recommended because intersection with main channel might be too crowded
 

Dougie

Well-Known Member
Note Page 80 projects visitor counts and includes those who come by road from Hanksville and by road from Hole in the Rock! Surprised to see that latter possibility still floating around in 1975. Actual visitor counts are projected HIGHER via Hole in the Rock than via Hanksville!
 
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JFRCalifornia

Escalante-Class Member
Note Page 80 projects visitor counts and includes those who come by road from Hanksville and by road from Home in the Rock! Surprised to see that latter possibility still floating around in 1975. Actual visitor counts are projected HIGHER via Hole in the Rock than via Hanksville!
That's really interesting that the backdoor from Bullfrog to Hole-in-the-Rock Road was still alive in 1975. I'm attaching a map from the August 1972 National Geographic showing where that road would have gone. Here's a relevant passage from the article:

"Already the Utah Highway Department proposes a paved road that would cut across some of the Escalante's most primitive points. From Bullfrog Basin, site of Lake Powell marina, the scenic highway would thread southwestward 37 mile, passing near Stevens Arch, to a junction with Hole-in-the-Rock Road from Escalante.

The lure of tourism inspired the highway plan and keeps it alive. Escalante businessmen support the road, though it would pass 40 miles southeast of town. Surely, the hope, some travelers' dollars would be diverted to their community. In a town of dwindling population, where per capita income averages under $3,000, such hopes are not to be scorned.

Some conservation groups foresee this road through the Escalante heartland as a gateway for abuse. Scenes of defilement--names scratched on canyon walls, litter, earth-churning dune buggies, and roaring snowmobiles--parade nightmarishly before their eyes."


The article notes that the question of implementing the Escalante as a "wilderness area" was going to be taken up by Congress subsequent to that August 1972 piece in NatGeo, and one of the issues under consideration was the highway. Apparently the fate of that proposal remained unresolved in 1975.

Here's a link to my summary of that article, with a few more photos:


Proposed Bullfrog-HITR Road - 1972.jpg
 

Dougie

Well-Known Member
Yep I remember you mentioning this fantasy road in your previous research/posts. That’s why it caught my eye. When do we see next release of the 24 month USBR lake level projections for Oct? Maybe this Friday?
 

Dougie

Well-Known Member
And I’d like to meet the surveyor who thought he could build an route across the Escalante below Stevens Arch at Coyote Gulch and was able to recommend a route with a straight face to his superiors that would carry thousands of vehicles a day in summertime (towing trailers and boats) to Bullfrog. Nuts.
 

jayfromtexas

Well-Known Member
Yep I remember you mentioning this fantasy road in your previous research/posts. That’s why it caught my eye. When do we see next release of the 24 month USBR lake level projections for Oct? Maybe this Friday?
I took a glance and it's actually up right at this moment.
 

jayfromtexas

Well-Known Member
While I imagine that proposed road would have been quite scenic and require a bit of engineering, I can certainly see how the "Monkey Wrenchers" would have been up in arms about it as it cut right across the heart of the Escalante country. One of those unfortunate results of increased access to our beloved scenic sites is that said access seems to imperil these scenic wonders as the great masses of balding apes descend upon them due to the easier access.
 

drewsxmi

Well-Known Member
I've attached a picture from the NAU archives of Bullfrog on September 19, 1971. The road down to the "Hobie Cat Beach" area shows up quite well, and it looks like the marina is to the southeast of the prominent knobs just south of the concrete boat ramp. As Dougie mentioned, the report mentions a ramp on page 32 that extends down to 3,520' of elevation made of "asphaltic concrete." That's most likely the "spur" ramp that is being used now. I was also interested to see the second launch ramp proposed for the area immediately to the south of the parking lot for the existing ramp, as there is some kind of "phantom ramp" there now. It has straight, steep sides cut into the sandstone, is about the right grade, but has no road to the top of it, and about 4 feet of drop right at the top.
 

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  • Bullfrog19710919.jpg
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JFRCalifornia

Escalante-Class Member
I've attached a picture from the NAU archives of Bullfrog on September 19, 1971. The road down to the "Hobie Cat Beach" area shows up quite well, and it looks like the marina is to the southeast of the prominent knobs just south of the concrete boat ramp. As Dougie mentioned, the report mentions a ramp on page 32 that extends down to 3,520' of elevation made of "asphaltic concrete." That's most likely the "spur" ramp that is being used now. I was also interested to see the second launch ramp proposed for the area immediately to the south of the parking lot for the existing ramp, as there is some kind of "phantom ramp" there now. It has straight, steep sides cut into the sandstone, is about the right grade, but has no road to the top of it, and about 4 feet of drop right at the top.
Great aerial... lake level on 9-19-71 was 3615.
 

Gem Morris

Escalante-Class Member
And I’d like to meet the surveyor who thought he could build an route across the Escalante below Stevens Arch at Coyote Gulch and was able to recommend a route with a straight face to his superiors that would carry thousands of vehicles a day in summertime (towing trailers and boats) to Bullfrog. Nuts.
X2 (maybe 20)
 

drewsxmi

Well-Known Member
And I’d like to meet the surveyor who thought he could build an route across the Escalante below Stevens Arch at Coyote Gulch and was able to recommend a route with a straight face to his superiors that would carry thousands of vehicles a day in summertime (towing trailers and boats) to Bullfrog. Nuts.
With enough dollars, dynamite, and bulldozers you can build a road almost anywhere. Witness I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge, I-70 through Glenwood Canyon, UT-95 through Comb Ridge, US-89 through the Echo Cliffs, I-70 through the San Rafael Swell as just a couple of examples. There is a story that the survey crew for I-70 across the Swell met some cattle ranchers, who asked the surveyors what they were doing. When the surveyors explained, the cattle ranchers broke out laughing. (If they had followed the route of the old Spanish Trail it would have been a lot easier, and probably faster for drivers too.) I'm glad they didn't build that road, leaving some adventure for future generations.
 

PBH

Well-Known Member
I've attached a picture from the NAU archives of Bullfrog on September 19, 1971.
I think I can see the trailer that “might“ make you a burger back in the 70’s ! If you think service suffers now you should have been there in color then. There wasn’t much of anything there at the time.

I can see my mom, dad, and oldest brother in that picture!!

(yes, they were living at Bullfrog in 1971)
 

Raven Haven

Well-Known Member
default.jpg

No specific year on this one.
Call numberNAU.PH.2003.11.1.3.M-6648
Item number19031
CreatorMuench, Josef
 
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