The small town of Bicknell is located in the heart of Capitol Reef Country, about 17 miles west of Capitol Reef National Park. The community was first established in 1879 by A.K. Thurber, who built the first home in the area. The land turned out to be unsuitable for farming and water, so in 1895 “Thurber Town” was relocated to a more productive location. The town’s residents were mainly cattle ranchers and wheat farmers. The Thurber Ward constructed the Relief Society Hall (purchased and restored in 1971 by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers), which housed the school, church meetings, and social functions. In 1914 Rhode Island’s Education Commissioner, Thomas W. Bicknell, offered to donate a 1,000-volume library to any town in Utah that would take his name. Two towns split the prize (with the other town taking his wife’s maiden name) and in 1916 Thurber became Bicknell and received 500 books. The town was incorporated in 1939.
Bicknell’s modern-day claim to fame is its year-round movie theater, home to the annual Bicknell International Film Festival (BIFF). The festival celebrates “Better Living through Bad Cinema” by showing three of the worst ‘B’ films reflecting each year’s theme. The festivities also include parties and a 55-mile-an-hour parade.
Interest in all directions
Nearby tourist attractions include the Bicknell Bottoms wildlife habitat and fish hatchery (3.5 miles southeast) and the Fruita schoolhouse (20 miles east). The town lies at an elevation of 7,123 feet and has a population of 353 people (per the 2000 Census).