Panguitch proved a gem of a destination. “Panguitch” is a first people word meaning “big fish”. White pioneers first settled in the surrounding attractive and fertile valley in March 1864. However, the first winter was exceptionally cold and challenging, the latter not least because the crops planted earlier in the year had failed. Seven men braved the elements to bring flour from Parowan, 40 miles away, along what is now roughly Highway 20. The snow was so deep that they had to abandon their oxen and wagon. They reached Parowan by placing a quilt on the deep drifts of snow, walking to the end of the quilt and then putting down a second quilt before retrieving the first one. This became known as the Panguitch Quilt Walk and is still celebrated in an annual festival in the town.
The village was abandoned during the Black Hawk War, but resettled in 1871. As the settlement grew, a brick factory was built. The people who made the bricks were not paid with money; instead, they were given bricks in exchange for their labour. This enabled the factory workers and other townspeople to build the large and sometimes elegant brick homes that still stand today. In 2006, all of Panguitch was listed as a historic district in the National Register of Historic Places. Although close to the border with neighbouring Iron, Panguitch is the administrative centre for enormous Garfield County and, fittingly, the county’s elegant courthouse is made overwhelmingly with brick.
Panguitch is larger and more prosperous than Tropic, but, like Tropic, is enclosed by land which lends itself well to arable farming. For about five blocks along Main Street almost every building is old and/or attractive, but more old and attractive buildings exist elsewhere in town. The motels are full of character and most have tall metal roadside signs designed to catch the eye with interesting names, sensuous curves and bright lights. Ghost signs and painted adverts cover many a wall, and among the businesses that seem to do quite well are some antique shops, a smokehouse, a diner, a drive-in, a supermarket, a state liquor store and a small cinema with a cafe in the front, which, among other things, serves very good ice cream. We found the local people, whether genuinely local or in-comers from other more crowded parts of the US, very friendly and happy to share with two UK citizens insights about the town and the surrounding area.
If you have enjoyed “In Search of Unusual Destinations”, have a look at “The USA: Landscapes and Urban Spaces”, which has posts devoted to some of the things that have preoccupied this blog, but from the perspective of only one nation state. Have fun – and I also hope that what you have seen and read have proved informative.