Monday, July 25, 2016

Ogden's Lorin Farr Park before rodeo fame: World-class bicycling, different park name

 Charles A. Maccarthy, left, and an another cyclist races around the Ogden "Saucer"
 track in Glenwood Park (now Lorin Farr Park), circa about 1910.                                                            (Photo from Utah State Historical Society.)

MENTION Lorin Fark Park today and it probably conjures up images of Ogden’s famous Pioneer Days Rodeo. However, the Park had a storied history long before rodeo fever took hold in Ogden and much of it was under a different name.
A park was first developed on the site, 769 Canyon Road, in about 1880. However, it was originally called Glenwood Park for more than three decades.
The park was a focal point for Ogden’s Fourth of July and Pioneer Day celebrations. Some of Ogden’s first fireworks displays were staged there.
Football, soccer and baseball games -- even track meets were held in the park during its early decades.
The adjacent Jones’s Grove, by the Ogden River, was considered the most refreshing summer swimming hole in the early 20th Century and even out of town tourists went there to cool off. In late winter, ice harvesting dominated this shady area by the Ogden River.

Long before rodeo came along in the park, there were world-class bicycle races there.
The “Saucer,” an indoor bicycle racing arena (velodrome) was built at the park in 1900. But in 1905, the race track did not make enough money to pay its bills and was struggling.
Still, the Los Angeles Herald had this headline on July 18, 1907:
The story stated: “Time for the Professional Mile Is Reduced to 1:48.1; Amateur Also Sets New Mark for Competitors -- At the Glenwood bicycle saucer track here tonight two world's records were lowered.”
By the 1910s, the rise of the automobile, the sport of golfing and then World War I equaled a drastic demise in the popularity of bicycle racing. Soon, the bicycle arena closed and was torn down.
A group of Ogden businessmen, led by William Glasmann, leased the park in 1911 with the hopes of developing a resort superior to anything Salt Lake City had. That effort didn’t fully succeed, but by 1918 there was a merry-go-round in the park and a children’s playground.
It was recommended in July of 1912 by the Daughters of the Pioneers for a new park name, to honor one of Ogden’s most prominent pioneers. After much debate, some favored the present title and others a neutral “Pioneer Park” moniker, but the Farr name soon won out.

                                             Lorin Farr

Lorin Farr (1820-1909) was a Mormon Pioneer, the first mayor of Ogden and the first president of the Weber LDS Stake. He also used to own the land where the park is and directed the building of a pioneer fort in the area in 1850.
By the 1920s, winter ice skating was a popular pastime at Lorin Farr Park and Ogden City had full control of the park again.  In the summer of 1922, a curfew was put in place and more lights added in the park to help prevent vandalism and teens making out.  Vandals damaged many park trees with hatchets.
In the spring of 1923, the park was spruced up and auto parking was expanded. Throughout the 1920s, a dance hall and “Penny Dances,” with 10-piece orchestra were a summer favorite there.
On July 4, 1923, the park was the center of Fourth of July festivities, with picnicking, games, pony rides and 60-foot tall Ferris wheel.
“Wild West Shows,” a forerunner to today’s rodeos, were popular in early 1900s Ogden and across the nation.
However, “Ogden Rodeo is called off” was an August 4, 1920 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner. A lack of proper facilities doomed that rodeo.  The first rodeo was held a year later in September of 1921 at Lorin Farr Park.
“Get ready for Ogden Rodeo” was a July 22, 1925 headline in the Standard. This two-day rodeo attracted cowboys and cowgirls from throughout the west at the Park.
“Two carloads of horses and carload of cattle were purchased for use at the show,” the Standard reported. “One of the added features will be a wrestling match Saturday afternoon between Dan Wynn and Jack Reed.”
“Pioneer Days” was coined/expanded and the Ogden rodeo really took off in 1934 when Ogden’s “Cowboy Mayor,” Harman W. Peery, organized a western festival to boost the spirits of the locals and entice tourists to visit the city. Ogden’s “Pioneer Stadium” was then officially created.
Today, the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo, run almost entirely by volunteers, ranks alongside such great rodeos like the Pendleton Roundup and Cheyenne Frontier Days. Ogden Pioneer Days, repeatedly voted the best rodeo in the Wilderness Circuit, draws more than 30,000 annually to its PRCA rodeo and corresponding events.

  Lorin Farr Park merry-go-round in the late 1940s.        (Photo courtesy of Rod Nelson.)

Lorin Farr Park’s “Kiddy Land” -- “A little Lagoon,” featured a Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, whip ride, train and little boat ride. The first merry-go-round arrived in the late 1940s, but was sold in 1952 and moved to Rexburg, Id., where it still operates. 
Lagoon Corporation added another merry-go-round in Lorin Farr Park in 1954. All the amusement rides were gone by the late 1970s, though.
There were also monkeys – “Buster and Browne” at the Park in a large cemented round pit from the late 1930s until the late 1950s.
In the 1980s, the pool boasted a 72-foot-tall incline where toboggan type sleds slide down and zoom across the water.
In more recent decades, Pioneer Stadium has hosted monster truck shows, truck pulls, car shows, demolition derby’s, bull fights, barrel racing, mixed martial arts competitions, boxing matches, walk-a-thons, circus events and even celebrity appearances complete with helicopter arrivals.

                      The Lorin Farr swimming pool and slides today.

Today, Lorin Farr Park still has a summer swimming pool with water slide tubes and a nearby, 12,800-square-foot skating park. The park also offers two reservable covered picnic areas, playgrounds, rock wall lined walkway along the Ogden River and restrooms. A large parking lot provides off street parking. Lots of shade make this a very relaxing spot and the nearby Ogden River offers fishing opportunities.
A traditional log cabin, once serving as the park caretaker's home, is now a hospitality/VIP facility complete with lighted patio.

                  Lorin Far Park's rodeo stadium.

(-Written by Lynn Arave and originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner's "Wasatch View" magazine in July of 2016.)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Layton’s ‘Snow Horse’ gallops into view during most spring seasons

ALMOST every spring, a white shape seemingly trots into view of the Layton area along the Wasatch Mountain side.
The “Snow Horse” is a pioneer landmark and has been noticed in the area most years around the end of May/early June for more than 165 years.
A pioneer legend states that if any part of the snow horse is still visible by the Fourth of July, there'll be plenty of water in the valley throughout the summer. Another variation of that legend is that tender crops should not be planted until the snow horse is clearly spotted, because it's a sign there will be no more frost.
A copy of the photograph of the snow horse that hangs inside Layton City's municipal offices, at 437 North Wasatch Drive.

A more modern variation is that some parents don’t let their children wear shorts, or play in outside water each year until the Snow Horse has been spotted, a confirmation that warm weather has arrived.
The “Snow Horse is located at about 8,500 feet above sea level on the appropriately named Snow Horse Ridge, just east of the Layton-Kaysville border.  Deep ravines along the mountainside, where snow accumulates and remains longer than the surrounding area is what creates the unusual shape. Most years the horse’s legs became thinner and thinner as the snow melts.
                   There was a headless snow horse in the spring of 2013.
This Snow Horse was a “no show” in both 2015 and 2007, because of the meager snowfall then. This past winter’s deeper snow levels will hopefully let the horse form this year.
Some believe they can also spot a smaller colt-like shape following the horse. Others claim it is a bat-like figure that sometimes appears too.
Layton City Hall contains a photograph of a typical Snow Horse. Snow Horse Elementary School in Kaysville is named after this seasonal landmark, though it is ironically not visible that far south at the school itself.
-There are also other so-called mountain shapes sometimes reputed to be sometimes spotted in the North Davis-Weber County area. Some profess to see a 7 shape on the north face of the mouth of Farmington Canyon.  A banjo shape can sometimes be spotted in the spring from the Hooper-Clinton area around the mouth of Weber Canyon. Also, some claim to see a Scotsman's smiling face on Ben Lomond Peak, north of Ogden, each spring.
-A prime location for viewing the “Snow Horse” is around Layton High School, or near Gentile Street in Layton. However, if you know where to look, the figure can even be spotted from as far north and west as Hooper.
-To best see the “Snow Horse,” count two major peaks going north (left) from the Francis Peak radar towers. Then, on that second peak, look down a long slope and there's where the Snow Horse resides.

(-Written by Lynn Arave and originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Disneyland hearse was NOT Brigham Young's

                       The famous hearse in front of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — "There's always room for one more" is the unofficial slogan for Disneyland's popular Haunted Mansion attraction. That phrase could also apply to the growing population of urban legends, including the incorrect belief that the white, horse-drawn hearse in front of the Haunted Mansion is the same one that carried Brigham Young's body from his funeral to his burial place in 1877.

Glen M. Leonard, director of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Museum of Church History and Art, said historical records are conclusive that the hearse couldn't possibly have been used for Young.

"Historical evidence shows no hearse was used," he said.

However, Leonard agrees that it's possible the hearse may have gone to California from Utah, where it could have been used in Salt Lake City, though probably after President Young's time.

Dozens of Internet sites claim the Haunted Mansion hearse was used for Young. Some Disneyland visitors even report that tour guides occasionally tell guests the hearse carried Young. Other Web sites debate the issue. All it takes is a "haunted mansion and hearse" subject search on the Web to find these sites.

A KUTV-Ch. 2 special report on Feb. 11, 2001 featured the Haunted Mansion hearse and included extensive research on the vehicle's history. However, the report upset Leonard because he felt it perpetuated the mystery about the hearse.

The KUTV report was done with a tongue-in-cheek style and concluded with some uncertainty on the issue when Leonard said there is none.

(Another KUTV report on the hearse aired on May 12, 2016.)

He prefers to view this widespread, incorrect belief as the result of "poor research," rather than an urban myth.

Leonard said Young's will was explicit about his funeral and burial. President Young died in the Lion House on Aug. 29, 1877, and his body was carried on a platform by clerks and employees, as prescribed in the will, to the Tabernacle for the funeral. Afterward, the same pall bearers hand-carried the casket up South Temple, through Eagle Gate and to the small private cemetery at First Avenue.

No wheeled vehicle was used in the transport of the body for the few blocks it needed to be transported.

Disneyland sources also expressed some doubt about the hearse's Brigham Young connection.

"It is documented to the extent that it can be documented," said John McClintock, a regional publicity manager for Disneyland. "It is at least a widespread belief that the hearse carried Brigham Young. . . . However, the proof is hardly indisputable."

Disneyland acquired the hearse from a Malibu collector, Dale Rickards, who had nothing to trace the ancestry of the wagon. Apparently there were once some documents of authenticity, but when the previous owner of the hearse, Robert "Dobie Doc" Cottle of Las Vegas, died, the papers apparently disappeared.

There are also rumors of a Young family from the Salt Lake area owning the hearse before Cottle got it, but no one's been able to verify that either. That possible "Young" connection could be the source of the Brigham Young link.

The Disney Archives had no additional information available on the hearse.

The KUTV report included extensive research on horse-drawn hearses and discovered the hearse could be an 1890s vintage, too recent to have been associated with Brigham Young. And there is some evidence in old Utah historical photographs that the hearse could have actually been used in Utah in the 1890s and thereafter until motorized hearses became available.

That's the only mystery left with the hearse: Did it come from Utah?

To Disneyland, the hearse is a prop, and there is no official sign that connects it to Brigham Young. In fact, the manufacturer's plate on the hearse is missing, so its origin cannot be verified.

McClintock said the Haunted Mansion continues to be one of the park's more popular attractions, and since many Utahns frequent Disneyland, the hearse and a possible Brigham Young connection are discussed frequently.

-Written by Lynn Arave in the Deseret News on Feb. 23, 2001.

The Web address to the original Deseret News story is:

Friday, April 8, 2016

"The Stump" -- North Ogden's artesian well that flows with history

  This artesian well at the top of Washington Boulevard, east of Lee's Marketplace and north of McDonald's Restaurant at 2650 North, is flowing out of a "tree" stump, thanks to a restoration project by the City Council and a local Boy Scout.
   Clarence Barker drilled the artesian well in 1930 for irrigation water. Then, in the summer of 1931, "The Stump" came along. Joe Ballif — who had a hamburger stand near the well at 2620 N. 390 East and who was already using some of the water for his business — decided to capitalize on the refreshing liquid.
   Ballif obtained a cottonwood tree stump from Frank Campbell's front yard, 2594 N. 400 East (where First Security Bank is now), to spruce up the well. However, this wasn't just any tree. It was what was left of the original and lone tree standing in the area when pioneers arrived in North Ogden during the 1850s. The upper part of the tree had been destroyed by lightning, and Ballif salvaged the stump. It took four horses to haul it to the well a short distance away.
   Dewey Lakey, a traveling craftsman, was called in and he cut and chiseled the stump so it could contain a fountain and a yellow light bulb. The water began flowing through the stump, and a nearby sign stated, "Good water, isn't it? Try our hamburgers," as an advertisement for Ballif's food outlet.
   In later years, the tree stump deteriorated and much of it rotted away. Ballif's stand also went out of business. A steel ring and concrete were added, probably in the 1960s, to shore up the stump — though this meant it lost its treelike appearance.

   The well had developed the strange nickname of "Frogwater" by the 1960s, though no one seems to know where it came from. Still, the well was a landmark throughout Weber County. In fact, Weber State University cross country/track coach Chick Hislop started having his athletes run to the fountain, exactly 10 miles from WSU, beginning in about 1969 for some of their "overdistance" training sessions. The runners could always count on having a refreshing drink of water at the "Frogwater" run's end.
   The establishment of Acres Market (forerunner to today's grocery store there) in 1999 meant the fountain would be removed. Marc M. Sutherland decided to create a plaque on the well's history as his Eagle Scout project. With historical interest stirred, the City Council became involved and had a 10-foot-high fiberglass replica of the tree stump made and placed near the original well. It was dedicated on May 20, 2000 in a special ceremony attended by some 200 people.
   Now the new "Stump" boasts two drinking fountains on its south side and a large flowing pipe on its north face. Gallon bottles can be filled up in seconds.

   "It's better than tap water," North Ogden resident Mike Barrow said as he filled up more than a dozen jugs of the water. "My whole family drinks it. I guess I should bring some larger jugs."
   Barrow said the water has been tested for quality and is better than the city of North Ogden's culinary water, though not bottled water sold in stores.,
   Thirsty kids on bikes or skateboards regularly stop at the fountain for drinks too. State Sen. Robert Montgomery, R-North Ogden, said at the fountain's dedication he recalls stopping there frequently as a child for a cold drink, too. 
Area residents regularly fill up jugs of water here and it is free.
There's even a nearby Veteran's Park, benches and mini park in the area now. North Ogden City even has a Christmas Santa house on the site.
--Salt Lake City has it owns artesian well counterpart to this, located at the southwest corner of 800 South and 500 East, water flowing  24/7 and free too.
(-Written by Lynn Arave and originally published in the Deseret News.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Kit Carson Cross – A pre-Mormon relic in the Great Salt Lake

PERHAPS the most legendary of pre-Mormon Pioneer artifacts in the Ogden area is the famous Kit Carson Cross on lonely Fremont Island in the Great Salt Lake.
Only about six inches long, this landmark dates back to Sept. 9, 1843 when frontier explorer Kit Carson carved it on solid rock while his frontier colleague, John C. Fremont, surveyed the area.

                                                               Fremont Island.

Fremont had dubbed the isle "Disappointment Island" for its barren nature, lack of game and water. Carson was apparently so bored that he chiseled a cross there. Writings of the exploration prove Carson made that cross.

                    The black rock where the Cross is located.

However, Carson’s biography states that he had converted to Catholicism from being a Protestant some years before his Fremont Island trek and so his cross could also possibly be viewed as somewhat of a Catholic symbol or relic – predating Mormonism,  that would become the area’s dominant religious less than five years later.

                                       John C. Fremont

Explorers Fremont and Carson, plus two other men followed the Weber River and used an "India rubber" boat of that day to float to the island that is directly west of present day Hooper. They hoped it was a paradise in the desert.  However, after making surveys, they left in disappointment. The only excitement came shortly after they left the island. They were threatened by an incoming thunderstorm and felt they had to frantically row for their lives to get off the wind-whipped Great Salt Lake.
The cross is found at the north end of Fremont Island on what is known as Castle Rock, the isle’s high point, rising some 800 feet above the average elevation of the GSL.

Unusual black rocks dominate this area and one of them contains the cross, seemingly small compared to these large rock monoliths. Other than a few metal lightning rods in the area, a deterrent to lightning-caused fires, this portion of Fremont Island has likely changed little in the 173 years since the cross was carved there.
Some 4 ½ years after Fremont/Carson and party were the first known white men to visit the Island, Mormon pioneers set foot on the isle on April 22, 1848. They named it "Castle Island," for the throne-like top on its north end (today’s Castle Rock).
Howard Stansbury, a U.S. government surveyor, came to Fremont Island in the summer of 1850. He officially named it after Fremont. However, in 1859 and for some years after, the Island was also known as “Miller’s Island,” when Dan Miller and Henry W. Jacob of Farmington had 153 sheep grazing there.
Brigham Young also exiled a Salt Lake City grave robber, Jean Baptiste, on Fremont Island in the spring of 1862. He was never seen again, but that is another tale for another day.

In addition, Salt Lake Probate Judge U. J. Wenner and his young family lived on Fremont Island for about four years. From 1886-1891. Wenner had tuberculosis and it was hoped the sea-like climate would temper his illness. However, he died on Fremont and was buried there. Later, his wife’s ashes were also buried nearby. (This occupation too is a separate story.)
Many Native America relics (arrowheads, tools and bowls) have been found on Fremont, indicating ancient inhabitation there.
Fremont Island is the long, thin-looking island, with a flat plateau on its north end, which is located directly west of Hooper.
The island also has a large segment that juts out to west, long enough to land an airplane on, though this segment is not visible along the Wasatch Front.

Note: Fremont Island is privately owned and requires permission to legally visit there.

                 Looking north across the length of Fremont Island.

(-Written by Lynn Arave and originally published in 2016 in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

From Muskrat Springs to Hooperville to Hooper

Mention “Muskrat Springs” today and you’re likely to only cause bewilderment, as that title for today’s Hooper City was replaced more than a century ago.
Notwithstanding, there’s still a somewhat obscure pioneer monument to be found to that unusual moniker and even a ward of the LDS Church in town titled that.
Hooper was an early herd ground for pioneers. A fresh water source for area became known as Muskrat springs, presumably, because some of those critters were originally found there. The springs formed a large pond of water in the 19th Century. There were several other springs in southwest Weber County, but this was the most famous.
It was 1853 when William H. Hooper built a herd house in the area. Other settlers followed and by 1869, there were 22 families living in Hooper.
The Muskrat Springs name was popular enough that resident John Thompson wrote a song titled “The Muskrat Springs” in 1869. It was even sung more than five decades later in the summer of 1927 during a city pioneer celebration.

A Deseret News correspondent, known only as “G.C.L.” wrote this on Dec. 14, 1870:
“I was particularly pleased with the appearance of the settlement formerly known as “Muskrat Springs” but lately renamed in honor of our respected delegate Hooper city. It is situated on the Weber range midway between the Weber River and Kaysville and near the shore of the lake. It is a thrifty and well organized young settlement containing a number of good frame houses. The soil there is of a warm sandy nature and well adapted to fruit growing and the settlement will without doubt in a few years become one of the best in the territory. I have visited nearly all parts of the territory and as a suitable place for starting a new farm, I consider it the most desirable locality I have yet seen. The canal by which the water is conveyed to it is to be enlarged the coming winter and much more land will then be brought under cultivation.”
The name “Hooperville” for the community was prevalent from the 1880s until the early 1900s. “Fair at Hooperville was an Aug. 26, 1890 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner. But “Hooper” as a name took over for good in the 20th Century.
Hooper’s original boundaries went far south into Davis County, including part of today’s Syracuse City. It also went east into today’s Roy City and was for decades the only notable Weber County settlement southwest of Ogden.
Incorporation of Hooper City finally took place on Nov. 30, 2000.

-The Muskrat Springs monument is found near where the original springs was. That’s approximately at today’s 5300 South (that’s “Pingree Lane” to veteran Hooperites) and 5550 West. This metal marker is also near today’s Hooper Canal and was dedicated on Nov. 7, 1977 by Daughters of Utah Pioneers. 

(-Originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on March 28, 2016.)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

From a residence to a funeral home to restaurants and shops

       The Little Taste of Britain restaurant and other shops on Layton's Main Street in 2016.

EVOLUTION is the name of the game for most businesses.

What exists on one site today, may not have been the case decades, or even just a few years ago. Many locations sport a colorful history of occupants.
One site on Layton, Utah's Main Street is a prime example of this.
Located at 1095 North Main Street, the Little Taste of Britain restaurant anchors some other adjacent businesses in "The Cottage at Layton" strip mall, west of Shopko.
El Mate, an international market, Soda Crazy, a soft drink outlet, Jarochos Mexican Food and even an income tax preparation office are all located in the small strip mall. The basement property is currently looking for a tenant.

Let's trace the evolution of this property:
In the early 1950s, the north end of this business property was the home of Ray and Mary Dawson. 
"The Dawson home was a real show place in its time," according to Bill Sanders, director of the Layton Heritage Museum.
(These Dawsons were the parents of Davis High Coach John Dawson, a legendary prep sports mentor, who passed away in 2010.)
Ray Dawson died in about 1960, while mowing the large lawn that surrounded his home at 1095 North Main.
Shortly thereafter, his widow sold the property to the Layton Union Mortuary.
This Union Mortuary was an extension of the Bountiful Union Mortuary, 295 North Main, in Bountiful That mortuary began as an offshoot of Union Furniture Company in about 1933 under the leadership of Merrill Holbrook. It was first called Union Mortuary in 1934 in a Davis County Clipper newspaper article of Aug. 10 that year.
The Davis Clipper of June 9, 1937 reported that George W. Graham, an undertaker, was moving back to Layton, his former home. That was the year when Graham started a funeral home in Layton, located perhaps on South Main Street. This was a branch of Bountiful's Union Mortuary.
"New Mortuary Open" was a March 31, 1961 headline in the Davis County Clipper. This article mentioned a public open house on April 1-2 for the Union Mortuary, now at 1095 North Main Street., on three acres of ground in an 11,000-plus-square-foot building. The facility boasted six viewing rooms, a chapel, a four-car garage and an apartment.
Layton Union Mortuary operated from 1961 to 1972. Bodies were prepared for burial in the basement. There was also a furnace for cremations.
Gerald Thomson and his family lived in the apartment section of the funeral home for some years, until they built their own residence about a block to the west.
Merrill Holbrook, president of Union Mortuary, died on Jan. 14, 1972. Soon after, the Bountiful location was sold to Russon Brothers and became their funeral home, the first one outside of Salt Lake County, for that company.
The Layton Union Mortuary soon closed.
(Eventually Layton attracted two other mortuaries -- Lindquist's and Myers -- on the east side of town.)
Some years later, perhaps the late 1970s, Carlos Produce leased the former funeral home building and operated for more than a decade there, selling fruit and vegetables. A lot of their produce was stored in the basement.
The property was eventually converted into a strip mall with various suites. Little Taste of Britain opened there in 2008, but many other small businesses came and went before that, and after that time. For example, there was a private club/restaurant, the Empress Club, located there for some years too, long before Little Taste of Britain came along.