Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The 2 former 'Temples of Health' -- Salt Lake and Ogden's Deseret Gymnasiums

                               The Former Deseret Gymnasium in Ogden, 550 25th Street.


ONE of the most exciting developments in Salt Lake City during the early 20th Century was the opening of the Deseret Gymnasium in 1910.
This "Temple of Health," as some referred to it, existed for some 87 years.
AND, not to be outdone, Ogden residents lobbied for their own Deseret Gymnasium and it opened in 1925 (decades even before Ogden had its own spiritual temple).
Salt Lake's Deseret Gymnasium opened its doors on Sept. 20, 1910. Located where the LDS Church Office Building now stands on North Temple Street, the Gym was just east of the Salt Lake Temple. It was part of the old downtown LDS University and used by students and the public.
Its official grand opening featured an orchestra and the facility cost $250,000 (or $6.14 million in 2017 dollar values).
Centerpiece of the Gym was its 30 by 60-foot swimming pool. 
Indeed, the Salt Lake Telegram newspaper stated on Sept. 17, 1910 that an early opening of just the swimming pool proved to be a chaotic and unpredictable affair.
"A mob of more than a thousand attacked the Deseret gymnasium at the rear of the Latter-day Saints' University this morning and for a time it looked as though the doors would be battered down and the building would be taken by a storm," the Telegram reported.
The Gym had advertised that any boy age 7 and up would be admitted free that morning and hence the mob.
"An average of 100 boys and hour were admitted to the pool," the story stated and some 1,500 boys got a free swim that day. The pool was 4.5 to 8.5 feet deep.
Men and women had separate hours of pool usage during the gym's early decades.
The original Gym also contained 6 bowling alleys, a basketball court and much more.
In April of 1911, the Deseret Gymnasium also had athletes put on exhibitions for General Conference visitors, with calisthenics, folk dancing and games (Salt Lake Tribune April 5, 1911).
The Salt Lake Tribune of March 9, 1911 also stated that indoor baseball games had been held inside the Deseret Gym.
In early 1960s, the Salt Lake Deseret Gym was aging and too small. A new, larger Gym was built to the northwest and opened in 1965. It featured a much larger swimming pool and even an indoor track above its main basketball court.
There was also a popular barber shop in the building and many a departing missionary had their hair cut there in the 1960s and early 1970s, before the MTC came along in Provo.
The Salt Lake Deseret Gymnasium closed in 1997 to make way for the new Conference Center, a block north of Temple Square.
-Ogden's Deseret Gymnasium, 550 25th Street, closed in the early 1990s and was sold in 1993 to Total Fitness. 

-Today, such gymnasiums are probably not needed, at least ones operated by the LDS Church, since many private gym/fitness and swimming facilities now exist.

Monday, July 10, 2017

One of the first drownings in the Great Salt Lake

            Davis County 4th graders play in the Great Salt Lake at Antelope Island.
YES, you can drown in the briny, buoyant waters of the Great Salt Lake.
Although the GSL's waters are 3 to 5 times saltier than the ocean and and can't sink -- but "float like the cork" there, you can drown in the water.
Inhaling the water can choke and gag you and the briny water can fill your lungs and stop your breathing.
One of the FIRST, if not the first recorded drownings in the Great Salt Lake happened on Sunday, August 6, 1882.
According to the Ogden Herald newspaper of Aug. 7, 1882, J.D. Farmer, a well-known Salt Lake City businessman, drowned near the Black Rock resort, on the lake's south end. Although his body could not be initially found, his clothing was discovered in one of the bath houses. He could not be located when the day's final train was ready to return to Salt Lake City. People searched for his body, but it was not found until more than four years later.
The Salt Lake Herald newspaper of Oct. 13, 1886 reported than his body was finally found about eight miles west of Garfield, along the shoreline there. The skeleton's size apparently matched Farmer's height.
The Great Salt Lake has an average depth of 14 feet and pockets of it can be about 36 feet deep, depending on lake elevation. 


                     A youth floats like at cork in the Great Salt Lake.

When Kaysville, Utah almost became Freedom, Utah


ANOTHER "What If?" ...
Kaysville, Utah was named for William Kay, first LDS Church Bishop and pioneer settler in the area. However, the town was almost given a totally different name.
The Kaysville Ward was organized in January of 1851 by President Brigham Young, with Kay as bishop. The town was then known as “Kay’s Settlement.”
However, when Bishop Kay left the area there was a desire by some settlers there to change the community’s name to “Freedom.”
That proposal was taken to President Young, who bluntly asked, “When did Kay’s Ward get its freedom?” The idea was turned down and Pres. Young suggest the Kaysville name instead.

(-From the Salt Lake Tribune, May 28, 1916; Also in “Utah Place Names,”: by John W. Van Cott.)




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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Early Southern Utah: From the Four Corners to Monument Valley to Zion Canyon to the Pine Valley Mountains




By Lynn Arave

FOUR Corners is a popular tourist destination today, but just over a century ago it was still an emerging novelty, yet a very remote spot to visit.
As the junction where the four corners of four states – Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona – meet, this place is unique in America.

                                   In 4 states at the same time!

“A Geographical Novelty” was a Feb. 28, 1902 headline in the Coalville Times Newspaper. This article stated that even world-wide, there was not a similar place where four counties met at such a junction.



The Salt Lake Herald Newspaper on Aug. 13, 1902 stated that the Four Corners was located in the midst of desert. Grass for stock was sparse in the area. A Herald article on Sept. 11, 1902 also explained how many Navajos were starving in the Four Corners region, with food shortages.

              Even today, it is barren land around the Four Corners.

The Logan Republican Newspaper of June 8, 1904 said the first shaft type monument had recently been erected at the Four Corners. However, access to the remote place was still difficult, with Mancos, Colorado, some 100 miles distant, being the nearest railroad town to the Four Corners.

                                    Monument Valley

-Still another remote area in southeastern Utah of old was Monument Valley. First referred to in its early days as “Monumental Valley,” (Salt Lake Herald Newspaper of Nov. 1, 1908), it was later referenced as “Monumental Park” too.
The Salt Lake Tribune of Sept. 5, 1915 stated that it required a week of travel from Salt Lake City at that time to even reach the remote location. It was two years later before the first talk of making a regular road to reach the place happened.

-The Henry Mountains further north are another mysterious Utah place. It is often stated that these mountains were among the last to be named ranges in the entire United States.
The first newspaper reference to the Henry Mountains appeared in the Salt Lake Herald of June 18, 1875.
The Henry Mountains were also among the last places to be mapped too. The Richfield Reaper Newspaper of Dec. 30, 1937 stated that the first geological maps of the Henry Mountains were made in 1937.

-Some features in Zion National Park DON’T have the same names they originally had. Back when the place was sometimes referred to as “Little Zion,” a few titles were different.

                The big curve in Zion Canyon, near the former "Raspberry Bend."

For example, a story in the Ephraim Herald Newspaper of Nov. 22, 1919 included an early map of Zion Canyon.
The sharp curve in the canyon just past Weeping Rock was originally called “Raspberry Bend.”
Also, Native American “cliff dwellings” were listed on that map in the Weeping Rock area. These are not marked on maps today. “Mummy Cave” was also nearby and according to the newspaper article was where petrified mummies of early cliff dwellers here were found – several hundred feet above the valley floor. 
In addition, what is called the Great White Throne today had an alternate name in the early 20th Century --  “El Gobernador.”
Plus, today’s “Grotto” area was originally named “Wylie Camp,” a rustic hotel, established in 1917.

              Looking north to St. George and the Pine Valley Mountains.

-The Pine Valley Mountains, north of St. George, are the highest elevations in southwestern Utah. A May 3, 1935 article in the Parowan Times Newspaper stated that the original name for the mountains as “Kaib-a-harur” – meaning “Mountain Standing Still.”
By 1935 there were already elaborate trails in these mountains, which assisted hiking and horseback trips, as well as hunters.
The Washington County Newspaper of June 17, 1926 stated that from “Signal Point,” the highest place in the Pine Valley Mountains at 10,300 feet, “one may from the same spot and with the aid of field glasses, witness people living in snowbound valleys to the north; see men hauling wood on bob-sleds; watch boys skating and observe gangs of men cutting and hauling natural ice 2- inches in thickness. Without moving a step but simply by turning the telescope of the south, one may see children in summer frocks, ladies picking roses from lawns and all classes of gardening in full summer sway.”
That was obviously referring to the elevation difference between Cedar City (5,850 feet above sea level) and St. George (elevation 2,800 feet).

                                       Vermillion Castle.

-“Vermillion Castle,” northeast of Parowan was so named in May of 1935. According to the Parowan Times Newspaper of May 17, 1935, Simon A. Matheson won a $5 prize for calling the forest campground there “Vermillion” in a Parowan Chamber of Commerce contest. He cited the “castle-like cliffs” as the inspiration for the title.
Previously, the area had been called “Five Mile.”
The road to Vermillion was first oiled in the late 1930s. Heavy rains washed out the road as recently as August 8, 1963.





Friday, May 19, 2017

Salt Lake Temple: Most Expensive LDS Temple Ever?


By Lynn Arave

THE next time you enjoy the gothic and symbolic features of the one and only Salt Lake LDS Temple, consider it’s dollar price to build -- $3,469,118.
That was the price given by Elder George Reynolds, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy, back in 1895, to a Philadelphia newspaper, as quoted in the Deseret Weekly News of March 23, 1895.




By Lynn Arave

Factor in the inflation and even in 1916 dollars (the furthest back an on-line government inflation calculator goes), that price equals at least $86,559,450 in 2017 dollars.
(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hasn’t revealed the actual costs of any temples for many decades now.)
However, in contrast the San Diego Temple, which opened in 1993, was reported by the Los Angeles Times to have cost an estimated $24 million. (That’s $40.6 million in 2017 dollars.)

                                                             San Diego Temple.

And, the original Ogden Temple, that opened in 1972, cost $4.29 million (or some $25 million in today’s dollars.)
Note that the Salt Lake Temple required some 40 years to build – far more than any other temple. Also, some volunteer, unpaid labor was used back then, or the price over four decades likely would have been much more, likely $100 millon plus.
Furthermore, Elder Reynolds in that 1895 article stated that exact costs of the temple were impossible. Still, he said about the Salt Lake Temple’s construction:



“In the early stages the progress was slow and very expensive, for it took four yoke of oxen four days to bring a single stone from the quarry twenty miles distant.”
He said some estimated it cost $100 for every stone cut, moved by oxen to the temple site and then laid in place. He also stressed that metal and other materials were very expensive to obtain, especially until the railroad came long.

                                                        Pencil drawing by Steve Arave

Utah's own 'Noah's Ark'

                                                   Photographs by Ravell Call and Lynn Arave

By Lynn Arave

THE  search for Noah's ark has sparked many an ambitious expedition or documentary over the years. However, some 40 miles from Zion National Park is Utah's own Noah's Ark, as officially named on government maps.
Of course, this isn't the real ark, but it's intriguing nevertheless -- especially with its red color. 
It is located about five miles southeast of Parowan on the south side of First Left Hand Canyon at an elevation of 8,592 feet above sea level.
Approaching 1,000 feet in length, this red rock formation is about twice the estimated length of the biblical boat, which is commonly said to be at least 300 cubits (a cubit is commonly believed to be 18 inches long), or about 550 feet long and 45 feet high.



There's a signed trail starting in the Vermilion Picnic Area that leads to a closer view of Noah's Ark. However, the view from the road and picnic area is not bad.
Although signs say the trail is 1 mile long one-way, it is closer to 1.5 miles long. It climbs steeply in places, starting from an elevation of 6,927 feet above sea level and topping out at 8,037 feet — for a total climb of 1,110 feet.
There is some shade along this trail, but it is not one to do in the heat of a summer day.

The trail ends on a small plateau that also offers a view of the Little Salt Lake and the surrounding area.
There's also Grand Castle, a kingly sort of red rock formation to the north of Noah's Ark. To the west and near the canyon floor is Vermilion Castle.
The Dixie National Forest has no additional information available on the Noah's Ark Trail.
Bruce Matheson, a longtime resident of Parowan, said the formation is a landmark for all locals in the canyons. He doesn't know where the name came from. Its origin is not mentioned in the history books, and it is just assumed that some early settler starting calling it Noah's Ark and the name stuck.
"The Parowan area has some of the most gorgeous rock formations around," Matheson said. "The colors are very vivid."
He's heard of a few men over the years who have managed to get to the top of Noah's Ark, though it looks to be a steep and risky climb.
Mike Ward, who lives in Paragonah, says Noah's Ark and the surrounding area are spectacular.
"The whole area is a stunner," he reported in an e-mail to the Deseret Morning News.
He said Second Left Hand Canyon, to the south, is his favorite — especially since it has a mountain bike trail that connects with Brian Head.
• To reach the Noah's Ark Trail, go south on I-15 to Parowan (Exit 75) and go through town, turning left (east) off Main Street onto state Route 143. Turn left after about one mile and go east into First Left Hand Canyon, which heads to Yankee Meadows. (This is a paved, narrow road with 13 percent grades, if you continue past Vermilion.)
Watch the signs and turn into Vermilion Picnic Area and drive the dirt road loop, looking for the signed trailhead. There are restrooms in the picnic area.
• The Parowan Canyon area is also home to a slew of other oddly shaped features. For example, there's Free Thought Canyon; Valentine Peak (where the sun rises each Feb. 14 perfectly lined with its summit); Squaw Hollow; Hole in the Rock; Billy West Canyon; and Yankee Meadows.
-From  a Deseret News article on Nov. 8, 2007, by Lynn Arave.
                                Looking west from the Noah's Ark area

'Other' Utah Monsters (and Not the Bear Lake Monster or Bigfoot) ...


By Lynn Arave

Tales of the Bear Lake Monster and even periodic sightings of Bigfoot dominate the monster scene in Utah. However, the Beehive State has also had reports over the decades of OTHER monsters.

Here are some of these other beasts:

-Flying serpent terrifies early Ogden Valley residents:  “A veritable Eden. The serpent is at his old tricks again” was a July 23, 1894 report in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
This was from the Eden of Weber County, in Ogden Valley. On the previous Friday evening about sundown, “a number of Eden’s reliable men” claimed they spotted a “monster serpent,” 100 feet long and 18 inches in diameter,  flying through the air and swooping down near Wilbur’s Store, at the corner of Independence Park.


                  An aerial view of the Eden and Huntsville area from Mount Ogden.

They estimated it was moving at 36-40 mph and soon disappeared over the mountains in the direction of Middle Fork Canyon – apparently never to be spotted again.
A serpent in Biblically named Eden, just this side of Paradise (north side in Cache County). Who knew?

- Flying creature shocks trainmen: The mother of a son who worked for Union Pacific told this chilling tale --
 In about 2005, the son and another U.P. engineer were railroading their usual route from Ogden to Elko, Nev.
Both men claimed to have clearly spotted a flying creature zip in front of the train and speed away. It was clear and massive, kind of like a giant jellyfish.
Both men were shocked, never having seen anything like that in decades of driving trains.
This happened out by Lakeside, along the border of the west side of the Great Salt Lake.
They also claimed they spotted the same flying creature on their return trip to Ogden in the same area.
They said it was a living entity, not some drone or aircraft.

-Giant snake in the Oquirrh Mountains: The December 25, 1873 issue of the Deseret News contains the tale of a monster snake in the right-hand fork of Coon's Canyon, southwest of Salt Lake City. A man, Edward R. Walker, was felling timber on a high peak south of Black rock when a deer an by. Walker grabbed his rifle and decided to pursue. A mile later the sound of a shrill whistle and hiss interrupted his chase.
"He saw approaching him, at a very rapid rate, a serpent, which he judged was between thirty and forty feet long, and about 10 inches through the body. The reptile's head was raised fully six feet from the ground and his jaws were open fifteen or eighteen inches wide, with fangs growing from both upper and lower jaw," Walker's report stated.

                             The north end of the Oquirrh Mountains.

The snake chased him and soon Walker stumbled and felt the weight of the monster's body gliding over his body. Then, the snake seemed to become frightened and slid off at a tremendous rate towards the ridge of the mountain. Walker said the snake was yellow in color and covered with scales. He said he would never set foot in that canyon again, despite having had years of experience in the mountains.

-'Gorilla' Man attacks woman and S.L. Street" was a Dec. 18, 1931 headline in the Salt Lake Telegram newspaper. This beast ripped the woman's clothes off after violently hurling her to the ground. The woman said the man was frothing at the mouth, mumbling insanely, had an iron grip and was walking in an ape-like manner with shaggy hair. The attack took place at State Street and Downington Avenue. Police believe this same man molested a dozen small girls on the City's west side previously, but were unable to locate him. No more "sightings" of him were ever reported.