Worship the ground you walk on

History of Tropic

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Tropic is the first community located east of Bryce Canyon National Park on Utah Highway 12 in Garfield County.  The founding of Tropic came about as a direct result of two water projects, Spring Creek and East Fork. It was through the hard work and perserverance of Andrew J. Hansen, William Lewman and Ole Ahlstrom that the vision of supplying water to the valley was fulfilled. 


Ole Ahlstrom and thirty-nine other men completed the ditch by the spring of 1892. It was on May 23, 1892 that the ten-mile canal brought the waters flowing from the East Fork of the Sevier River over the cliffs of Bryce Canyon into the Tropic Valley, a drop of 1,500 feet; the only strem so far known to have been diverted from the Great Inland Basin, and which would eventually find its way into the Gulf of California through the big Colorado River.  It was reported that prior to releasing the water, Mr. Hansen found a group of people camped on the East Fork and gave warning to move to higher ground; they didn't and he reported hearing them shouting and cusing in the night when their camp flooded. Citizens joined together at the home of Caroline and A.J. Hansen to commemorate the event. The grand celebration consisted of a barbecue of beef, veal, lamb and mutton; cake, pie and many other tasty food was enjoyed by the old and young.  


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The organization of the community began when Andrew J. Hansen, William Lewman and James Ahlstrom survey the townsite in the spring of 1889. It included sixteen blocks of four lots per block, each lot measuring one and a quater acre. Sixty-four lots were sold at $7.50 per lot; this low price brought attracted additional settlers: William, John F. and Dan Pollock, John Ahlstrom, Joseph and James Robert Ott, Will Chatwin; George Shakespear; William and John Spendlove, Levison Hancock, Henry and Willam B. Mecham, John Maneill, Orin Mangum, Seth Alvin, Sena Schow Johnson and Andrew Perkins all came to make their homes in Tropic.


The name of the town had been a matter of discussion, the first among many was Erastus, in honor of a LDS (Mormon) Apostle; this along with UR, Hansen and others. It was suggested by Andrew J. Hansen to call it "Tropic". To support the suggestion, he state that  people would come to their little valley where peaches, apples, grapes and other semi-tropical fruits would be found. The name Tropic was adopted; with the population of about 15 families. 


The Bryce Canyon area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded in the area in 1874. Ebenezer Bryce joined the comunity in the area, as he helped in preliminary works of the two water projects in progress or other irrigation ditches for the community, it’s said that he created a road that lead up to the pink cliffs to help make the timber more accessible. The community’s folk started to call the amphitheater where the road ended, “Bryce’s Canyon”. Ebenezer Bryce did not stay in the area; he moved his family south into Arizona. Even though he was no longer around, the community continued to call the canyon “Bryce’s Canyon”!


Read more about Ebenezer Bryce or Bryce Canyon


With nieghboring Bryce Canyon National Park being a well-known tourist destination, the once small farming community has flourished, welcoming visitors from both near and far.  Most residents are descendants of pioneer stock and through the hard work and determination of their ancestors the task of providing water to the valley was accomplished. It was no small feat then, and it is the same water today, which provides the irrigation for crops, gardens and gives life to the valley. Residents and visitors alike awe at the beauty surrounding them each day.