Summit County historian highlights ledge in Coalville in hopes preserving it
As drivers head east on Interstate 80 toward Coalville, the ledge springs into view across the valley, jutting up from the ground. It stands out against the backdrop of the surrounding mountains.
Summit County Historian NaVee Vernon said it should be considered one of Coalville’s greatest historic sites.
“It’s the first thing you see as you enter town and people have played up there for years, recording their names and important dates in their lives,” she said.
Vernon recently co-led a tour of the area for county and state officials, along with community members, with the Utah Historical Society to highlight the ledge’s importance as a historical site in Summit County. Nearly 15 people attended the tour, including Bill Malone, president and CEO of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, Coalville City Council members, and Jerre Holmes, superintendent of the North Summit School District. The school district owns a portion of the land where the ledge is.
The site provides unique art etched into the rocks that are only found in two other areas of the county, Vernon said. She estimated that the petroglyphs are more than 800 years old.
In recent years, the area has been the target of vandals who have spray painted graffiti over the rock art. Vernon said she was hesitant about drawing attention to the site out of the fear of inviting more vandalism.
“I went back and forth about it before deciding I wanted to do something about it,” she said. “It’s upsetting because there is so much graffiti a lot of people don’t realize there is rock art up there. But, there has been a lot up there and no one has ever done anything about it.”
Vernon hopes to raise enough money to clean up the graffiti and preserve the public’s access to the site. She wants to work with the North Summit School District to install a path where people can safely climb up to the site and use it as an educational tool.
“I was already in the process of trying to get it cleaned up and I think we can,” she said. “If you live here in Coalville and in Summit County, you should want to preserve it. It’s about protecting Mother Nature and the beauty that we have. It’s also about showing respect toward the Native Americans and their artwork.”
Vernon said the artists behind the artwork were likely members of the Shoshone tribe. She said the Native American tribe came through the area more than 1,500 years ago following the Weber River.
“This area was very prevalent for the Shoshone,” she said. “From the narrows to Coalville, their presence was pretty important to the area and I think there is a lot to learn from them.”
The meaning behind the petroglyphs is unknown, Vernon said, but she emphasized how that shouldn’t take away from their importance.
“It was their way of letting us know that they were here, and it really gets in your blood if you see the figures and how unique they are,” she said. “I think people need to be more aware of it to honor it and not destroy it.”
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Summit County has approved a transit deal, ending a 15-year-old contract with Park City as High Valley Transit is set to launch its bus service July 1.