If you've ever driven through the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway and Tunnel at Zion National Park, you know what kind of engineering marvel it is. Well, it's now official. The highway and tunnel have been designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
On Friday the president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Andrew W. Herrmann, will join Zion Superintendent Jock Whitworth to host a ceremony marking that designation. The public is invited to the ceremony at the South Campground Amphitheater in Zion National Park at 2:00 pm to celebrate this honor.
The Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel go where no road had gone before: up Pine Creek Canyon, through the Navajo sandstone cliffs, and east across the slickrock of the plateau.
Over a three-year period, this improbable route presented unique and dangerous challenges to the hardworking crews. They began work on opposite ends of the road. On the western side, a series of six switchbacks were carved from the canyon floor up. On the eastern side, crews blasted their way through a sea of slickrock sandstone.
The most significant challenge was the arduous task of constructing the 1.1-mile tunnel through the heart of Zion's sandstone cliffs. On July 3, 1930, work was completed, and the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel were officially designated and opened to the public.