Historical sites can be fun, and educational, places to visit. For those interested in the historical sites you will see in Capitol Reef National Park, we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch have complied some useful information. This blog focuses on the Gifford House. We thank the Capitol Reef Natural History Association for the use of their material.
Gifford House – The original home was built in 1908 by polygamist Calvin Pendleton. He and his family occupied the house for eight years. The pioneer house had a combined front room/kitchen and two small bedrooms. An outside rope ladder accessed two upstairs bedrooms.
The Gifford family occupied the home for 41 years (1928 to 1969). Gifford added a kitchen in 1946 and the bathroom, utility room, and carport in 1954.
The Giffords raised dairy cows, hogs, and sheep, as well as chickens and ducks. They also kept cattle in the South Desert. They used the smokehouse to preserve meat for their own use and for sale.
The family ate whatever they raised. The garden produced a variety of vegetables including potatoes, beans, peas, squash, lettuce, radishes, corn, and watermelons. The family also had orchards and grew sorghum. They preserved fruit and vegetables for later use by bottling or drying. Bottled foods were stored in the cellar below the front of the house. Dry goods, such as potatoes, were kept in the root cellar on the back side of the house.
Water was carried to the house from the Fremont River and was used untreated. A two-hole outhouse served the family until an indoor bathroom and plumbing was installed in later years. The house received electricity in 1948.
The Giffords frequently got together with other Fuita residents for suppers, singing, games, cards, baseball, reading, and quilting. The families were close friends and often helped each other – an important relationship in a small isolated community like Fruita.
The Giffords were the last residents of Fruita. Dewey Gifford sold his home and land to the National Park Service in 1969 and moved away. With the Gifford’s departure, the story of Fruita as a farming community came to a close.
Today the Gifford Home is a museum and shop that preserves the life story of the rural farm. We at the Lodge recommend visiting to experience the history, and to buy some of the homemade goodies that are for sale.