Bluff Co-op Store project needs matching donations
Jul 20, 2011 | 2095 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bluff Co-op Store was the center of economic development in San Juan County at the turn of the century. The Hole in the Rock Foundation has secured a grant to rebuild the store, and seeks donations to finalize the project. 	 Courtesy photo
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Both small and large projects need big pushers before they can be completed. Hole-in-the-Rock Foundation member Graig Taylor is making one more big push to encourage those with heart-ties to Bluff to come forth with more than just words and feelings.   “We need everyone who is interested or connected to Bluff to donate money to help make the new Bluff Co-op a reality,” said Taylor. 

While the Hole-in-the-Rock Foundation has obtained a grant to rebuild the actual structure, matching funding is needed to create the inside displays and panoramas that will teach visitors about the Hole-in–the-Rock trail and the early San Juan colonization efforts.

The final push needs to raise the last $90,000 for the match by September.  Little and big contributions are appreciated.  Mail checks to: HIR Foundation,  P.O. Box 476 Bluff, UT 84512.

In the early 1900s, the co-op store was the heart of the community of Bluff. It was originally organized by Platte D. Lyman, Jens Nielson, Charles E. Walton, Kumen Jones, Hyrum Perkins, L.H. Redd, Benjamin Perkins and Joseph A. Lyman.

The original log co-op store was located in the northeast corner of Bluff Fort. This cooperative venture provided a means for buying, selling and trading, and it became very successful.

Navajos and Utes frequented the store and traded their wool, pelts and woven goods.  Near the turn of the century, the original log structure was replaced with a two-story stone building.

In a letter to Joseph F. Barton dated January 16, 1900, Jens Nielson wrote, “Our co-op store is now so far completed that we can pile goods in the lower part, and [we] had all our holiday dances on the upper floor.

“The building cost $2,700 to date and will cost about $300 more to finish it. The store has cleared $2,700 in two years.” (Fall 2010 HIR Newsletter) 

Unfortunately, that Co-op was blown up in 1925 during a robbery attempt.  The robber, under the alias Fred Starr, used too much dynamite when attempting to break into the safe, blowing up both the co-op store and himself.

The new Bluff Co-op will visually show the Bluff and Hole-in-the-Rock story, telling why and how the pioneers came, what they experienced once they arrived in Bluff, and how they survived.  

It will also show the Hole-in-the-Rock trail, as well as San Juan Hill, and give visitors a reality experience with what a Co-op store of the 1880s was like a century ago. 

Who knows, there may even be honey taffy, and hard tack available!

The second floor will be dedicated to Bluff’s pioneer town center and Main Street, and will also house a video theater. 

“The stone Co-op store was the jewel of the fort and was the center of old Bluff commerce and its social life,” said Corrine Roring, HIRF President.  

With a big dose of Jens Nielson ‘STICKYTA-TUDY’ it will become so again. 
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