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Author Topic: UT 20  (Read 674 times)

Max Rockatansky

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UT 20
« on: April 15, 2021, 11:50:32 PM »

Digging through my pile of Utah photo albums I stumbled upon Utah State Route 20.  UT 20 is an approximately 20 mile State Highway which connects from Interstate 15 in Iron County east to US Route 89 Garfield County.  What always made UT 20 notable to me is the massive climbing lanes which facilitate large vehicles over an unnamed 7,920 foot high mountain pass.  UT 20 is partially aligned over the route of the Old Spanish Trail and incorporated even more of it when it was aligned to US Route 91 pre-1947 to Paragonah via Upper Bear Valley Road and Little Creek Canyon Road.  In the late 1930s the original UT 90 connected from UT 20 in Little Bear Valley northwest to US Route 91.  The original UT 90 was consolidated into a realigned US 20 in 1947 when the latter's original alignment west of Little Bear Valley to Paragonah.  This realignment in 1947 formed the basis for modern UT 20:

https://www.gribblenation.org/2021/04/utah-state-route-20.html
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US 89

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Re: UT 20
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2021, 12:55:20 AM »

I wrote a blog post on this a few months back that includes much of the same stuff, although there was a bit of inconsistency with some of the old legislative descriptions and also even with a couple place names in the area. It's not clear where "Spry" was... but wherever that may be, it was defined as the east end of SR 90 for four years.

Those truck climbing lanes are there because SR 20 is part of the best way from Salt Lake to Phoenix (at least historically - it may not be anymore with recent upgrades to US 93/I-11). That drive requires crossing the mountains between I-15 and US 89, and SR 20 is undoubtedly the best place to do that if you're a truck. Almost every other crossing is either much higher or truck-unfriendly (153, 143, 14, 9), or it's significantly out of the way (I-70, 59/389).

Max Rockatansky

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Re: UT 20
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2021, 01:04:25 AM »

It appears we both looked over the same maps on David with the 39 State Farm and 50 Shell.  I tried some generalized Utah maps and I couldnít find any greater explanation for what was going on with Spry.  I almost didnít take pictures of this route last month (I left that vague for the Facebook post) but Iím glad that I did because there is way more interesting alignment history than it appeared on the surface.  BTW your blog is way more detailed than mine regarding the historical content, that was an enjoyable read. 

The Old Spanish Trail signage on UT 20 approaching Upper Bear Valley Road is new.  I didnít see it the last time I was on UT 20 in 2013 and the GSV doesnít pick it up in 2014.  I recall when I drove UT 20 the first time (right after a snow storm) that four lane descent through the 35 MPH was pretty welcome considering it got me by several truckers.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2021, 01:10:02 AM by Max Rockatansky »
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Mapmikey

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Re: UT 20
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2021, 11:36:14 AM »

The 1926 Utah official (https://images.archives.utah.gov/digital/collection/p17010coll68/id/23/rec/4) shows Spry as the end of the yet to be numbered highway.

The 1923 and 1927-32 Officials calls it Orton (no Spry shown at all) - https://images.archives.utah.gov/digital/collection/p17010coll68/search

The 1933 official goes back to showing Spry, with the 1937 Official returning to Orton.

Interestingly, the shape of the east end of UT 20 changes from a distinct dip downward to a straight across, suggesting that perhaps it met US 89 further south (road that does this used to exist - see frame 1 of the 1938 Garfield Co map: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/5840167).  However, the length of UT 20 never changes and the US 89 distance to Panguitch is always 10 (instead of 7 changing to 10).

UT 90 appears for the first time on the 1938 official and officials through 1941 show it as you have described.

Here's where it gets interesting.  The 1945 official (next one available), shows UT 90 connecting US 91 (very near the Iron/Beaver line) all the way to US 89, never meeting UT 20, and ending at Spry Jct, 5 miles *north* of Orton (Google maps puts Spry here today), whereas earlier maps that did show Spry had it 3 miles *south* of Orton.  The length of this UT 90 is not shown on the 1945 Official but it is on the 1947 Official and is 19 miles, matching the legislative definition (the route of previous UT 90 plus UT 20 to US 89 is shown as 21 miles).  Reading "US 89"s blog post this matches up with legislative description of UT 90 and its changes.

The next one they have 1947, still shows a road to Spry (Exit 100 on I-15 to Dog Valley Rd at US 89?) but no longer labels it UT 90.   By 1951, Utah Officials stopped showing both the road and Spry.  Neither UT 90 alignment is shown as a state highway.

Pg. 141 of the 1944 Utah report (Table 10) https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.b3031660&view=1up&seq=141 shows UT 90 from US 91 to UT 20 removed from the state highway system at the same time the newer UT 90 route from US 91 to US 89 was added.

I was unable to find a similar table for around the time UT 20 would've been changed to prove the first UT 90 routing stayed out of the system until UT 20 moved to it.

This site - https://onlineutah.us/spryhistory.shtml - says Spry was renamed a few times, including to Orton.


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US 89

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Re: UT 20
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2021, 11:37:51 AM »

I had no idea that online archive of state maps existed. That's a great resource.

Max Rockatansky

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Re: UT 20
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2021, 12:55:30 PM »

I had no idea that online archive of state maps existed. That's a great resource.

It definitely is, I book marked once I saw all those scans. 
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