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Tie Fork rest area is an eye-catcher

Interior of the visitor center has a two-story cathedral ceiling and is decorated with lights looking like old lanterns.

Paris has its Louvre, Vatican City has its Sistine Chapel, and now U.S. 6 Milepost 202 has its Tie Fork rest area and visitor center.

The Utah Department of Transportation showed off its latest upscale roadside pit stop in a tour for public officials. Based on a theme of an early 1900s railroad depot, the building's size and architectural style command attention in the narrow canyon passage.

According to Dave Babcock, who came up with the concept, the facility is "designed to pay tribute to the town of Tucker and also to the history of the railroad heritage of the Soldier Summit and Helper areas."

Babcock has done historical research and reports that the little town of Tucker was two miles south of Tie Fork. During its short life from about 1900 to 1915, it was home to 200 people. It sprouted at this place because it was the head of a railroad spur that led to Pleasant Valley and served as a coal haul line for Scofield and Pleasant Valley mines. There weren't all that many cars in those days, let alone a paved highway.

The exterior design features a replica of a roundhouse, which was a rotating platform used to turn steam locomotives around. It comes complete with a large-scale model of a locomotive, designed and built by Original Creations of Carbonville. The roundhouse serves as the centerpiece of a picnic area.

Inside, the building' s two-story, octagonal wing rises to a cathedral ceiling, decorated by lights resembling antique gas lanterns. There is also room to showcase tourism promotion displays from the seven agencies who have joined forces and funding to make the visit memorable and appealing to travelers who have no choice but to stop. (Yes, there are flush toilets and running water.)

Castle Country Travel Region Director Kathy Smith said that Carbon, Emery, Grand, Utah and San Juan counties will be joining with the Manti LaSal National Forest and Utah State Parks to create interpretive displays. Carbon County will emphasize its tourist draws and cultural assets of dinosaurs, rock art, archaeology, off-highway-vehicle trails...and railroads. Ms. Smith said that Phillip Notariani of the Utah Historical Society has provided text for the railroad history of the region and old-time photos.

Ms. Smith said the $17,000 cost to maintain the facility will be split seven ways, so each partner will be paying less than $3,000.

Archiplex Group, a Salt Lake City architectural firm, designed the buildings to suit the concept recommended by Mr. Babcock.

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