Friday, February 24, 2017

Tushar Mountains -- Tall, full of tall tales, but relatively unheralded

                    A black and white photo of Puffer Lake, high in the Tushar Mountains.

By Lynn Arave

TUSHAR MOUNTAINS, Beaver and Piute counties — They're by far the tallest mountain range in southwestern Utah, rising more than 12,000 feet above sea level. However, the Tushar Mountains remain relatively unheralded.

"Under-appreciated and relatively uncrowded" is how tourist officials describe these scenic, recreational gems, which are located east of Beaver — about 210 miles south of Salt Lake City.

Some 30 miles long and up to 20 miles wide, the Tushars are part of the Fishlake National Forest.

Many Utahns speed by to the west on I-15, and although the rugged shaped Belknap Peak may catch their eye briefly, most have no idea what mountain range they're looking at. This range is snow covered much of the year.

(Obviously Beaver, Utah residents, local skiers and ATVers are well aware of the Tushars.)

The light-colored Tushars are named after a Paiute Indian word, "T-shar," meaning white. The range is believed to have been formed by intense volcanic activity below the ground that thrust upward some 5 million to 30 million years ago.

Access to the Tushars is easy. U-153, a scenic byway, is paved 19 miles up Beaver Canyon to Eagle Point ski resort (elevation 10,000 feet). A dirt and gravel road continues another 21 miles to the east — with some long and steep stretches. It connects with U.S. 89 at the town of Junction on the east side of the Tushars.

Another access road, although not paved, is Forest Service Road No. 126, out of Marysvale on the east side of the Tushars. It goes up Bullion Canyon about seven miles. More rugged roads and scenic backways also access the north side of the Tushars from I-70 and go to the old Kimberly mining area.

Kingpin of the Tushars is Delano Peak, 12,173 feet above sea level, a rounded summit that doesn't appear to be the tallest when looking at the range from I-15. As the highest peak in both Beaver and Piute counties, Delano is the 41st tallest named peak in Utah and the seventh highest outside the Uintas. The peak was named for Columbus Delano, U.S. secretary of the Interior in the 1870s.

Hiking to Delano Peak is a moderately strenuous, 13-mile round-trip trek that will require an average of six to seven hours. Since access roads go high into the mountains, it's just a 2,173-foot climb to the peak, probably making it the state's most easily accessed over-12,000-feet mountain. Regular hiking season is July to September.

The Wasatch Mountain Club ranks the Delano hike at a 7.7 in difficulty. In comparison, Ensign Peak holds a 1.5 rating, Bald Mountain in the Uintas is rated 3.3, Timpanogos Peak is rated 11, and Lone Peak in Salt Lake County is rated 14.8.

There are also some spectacular ATV trails through the Tushars. 
Mountain bikers have also recently discovered the area, and intermediate to expert rides are available on the Kimberly road, the Big John Flat, the Puffer Lake Loop and the Skyline Trail.

Bullion Falls, an 80-foot water drop, is also in the mountains. It is named for the Bullion gold mine and town, where some 5,000 people once lived.

There are also lots of colorful names in the Tushar Mountains: Horse Heaven, Grizzly Ridge, Robbers Roost, Mary's Nipple, Bumblee Springs, Bellyache Canyon, Hell Canyon, Jean's Pasture, Monkey Fork, Giraffe Creek, Skull Flat, Porkies Pasture, Snowslide Gulch, Rattlesnake Ridge, Bone Hollow

With a history of mining operations, mostly for gold and starting in 1888, names like Prospect, Gold Mountain, Grasshopper Mine, Deer Trail Mine, Glidder Mine, Sunday Mine and Copper Belt Peak also dot the mountainside of the Tushars.

There are also six U.S. Forest Service recreation areas in the Tushars: Little Cottonwood, Ponderosa, Mahogany Cove, Kent's Lake, City Creek and Anderson-Meadow. There are also a few small bodies of water in the Tushars — Puffer Lake, Kent's Lake, Blue Lake, LaBaron Lake and Willow Lake, plus a Boy Scout Camp. Big Rock Candy Mountain, along U.S. 89, is a part of the northeast section of the Tushars.

Not without legends, talk of the Tushari, a mysterious, ancient Indian tribe was supposed to have inhabited the region. Also, Gorilla Ridge on the west slope of the Tushars and near Mount Baldy, was titled after a mine of the same name, and is believed by some to have Sasquatch sighting connections.

-Here are the Tushar Mountain's *highest points:

1. Delano Peak, 12,173.

2. Mount Belknap, 12,137

3. Mount Baldy, 12,122

4. Mount Holly, 11,985

5. Mount Brigham, 11,758.

6. Gold Mountain, 11,650

7. Edna Peak, 11,650

8. Copper Belt Peak, 11,383

9. Circleville Mountain, south, 11,331

10. Shelly Baldy Peak, 11,321

11. Lake Peak, 11.310

12. Signal Peak, 11,306

13. Circleville Mountain, north, 11,285.

14. City Creek Peak, 11,161.

15. Deer Trail Mountain, 10,972

*Officially named highpoints only

-Most material gleamed from a Deseret News article by Lynn Arave on Sept. 7, 2001.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Ruby's Inn: An Area Destination since 1916 -- even before Bryce Canyon

                                 Bryce Canyon National Park.

By Lynn Arave

LOOK closely at the official Utah State Highway map and you'll spot Ruby's Inn -- a commercial establishment -- listed prominently, like any city or town. That's a rarity on such a map, but there's a reason for that -- this Inn has been around since 1916 and even predates nearby Bryce Canyon National Park by seven years.
By the time Bryce Canyon was a National Monument in 1923 (or National Park in 1928), Ruby's Inn was already well established and serving as a focal point for the area.
Given its legacy, the first newspaper mention of Ruby's was NOT for anything relating to Bryce Canyon, but for an area Halloween party on Oct. 31, 1924. The Garfield County News on Nov. 7, 1924 stated that the event was a big success.
The Garfield County News of Jan. 16, 1925 described Ruby's as a "homelike headquarters for the weary traveler" and a "wonderful resort."
In that era, Ruby's not only had plenty of water for visitors, but also cabins, food and even a dancing hall. It was also in 1925 when the resort received its first electric lighting system.
By the spring of 1925, Ruby's had a U.S. Post Office, a monster porch for relaxation, supplies, campground and even access to horses and guides to explore the area.
In July of 1925, the Panquitch Orchestra even played at Ruby's Inn and attracted a large crowd.
It was Ruby Syrett and his wife who started Ruby's. and their descendants still operate the business.
Ruby's Inn was the most popular destination in the area, though as the decades went by, the place became more and more synonymous with Bryce Canyon National Park.
 Indeed, you HAD to travel past Ruby's Inn to enter Bryce Canyon and that's how it remains today. 
Yes, Bryce Canyon does have its own inside-the-park accommodations available, but Ruby's was there first and is literally just a few hundred yards north of the Bryce Canyon entrance.
Today Ruby's has expanded to have an RV Park, a seasonal rodeo, ATV rentals and more. In the summer, its work staff expands top some 600 employees, the largest in the county.
A tragic fire in 1984 destroyed the lodge and erased some of the Ruby's Inn history, but it was rebuilt and even expanded after that.

-As a kid growing up in the 1960s, my Bryce Canyon visit memories include images of Ruby's Inn, as the two seemed linked. Decades later, when I took my own children to Bryce, was complete without a stop at Ruby's.

-Then, a few years ago, my wife had inherited this huge old roll-top desk from her late father. It took up so much space and was unused, that I reluctantly convinced her to sell it through an on-line ad. As the desk was hauled way, my wife shed a few tears. Yet, surprisingly a member of the Syrett family purchased it to use in his office at Ruby's Inn, almost 300 miles distant from my Northern Utah home. So, even my family now has a link of sorts to this historic place.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

A 19th Century Look at the Oquirrh Mountains

              The north end of the Oquirrh Mountains, as they appear from West Valley City.

By Lynn Arave

OFTEN forgotten mountains in Northern Utah are the Oquirrh Range. Rising to just over 9,000 feet, these mountains are the home to Kennecott Copper's huge open pit mine, to a variety of FM radio and TV transmitters and plenty of wildlife. These mountains are also often a "rain shadow" in meteorological terms to the Salt Lake Valley, tempering its total precipitation received.
But where did the Oquirrh name come from?
The first newspaper mention of the Oquirrh Mountains was in the March 2, 1864 issue of the Deseret News. That report stated Oquirrh was "the Indian name of the range on the west side of the G.S.L. Valley." It also proclaimed recent mining for lead and silver in those mountains.
The Salt Lake Herald Newspaper of Nov. 19, 1874 noted that the Utah Western Railroad had named one of its locomotives "Oquirrh."
The Salt Lake Tribune of May 28, 1878 stated that there was a local group, named the Oquirrh Club, so the Native American name became a fixture, through it was not nearly as popular as "Deseret."
The Salt Lake Herald on May 28, 1879 reported the exploration of several caves at the north end of the Oquirrh range. The larger of the two caves even had pioneer names carved into its interior walls, dating back to 1862. The larger cave, called "Giant's Cave," boasted a 10-foot-square opening and was almost 200 feet deep. The smaller, unnamed cave was only about 50 feet long.
The Salt Lake Telegram of Dec. 27, 1948 published a reader's research on the name Oquirrh. It did not dispute that the common held belief of that word meaning "Shining Mountains," but stated that Native Americans also had several alternate meanings to that word -- "Grassy Hills," "Yellow Mountains" and even "Black Mountains." 

Sitting at the north end of the Oquirrh Mountains is Kennecott's Garfield Smokestack, which rises 1,215 feet, or just 35 feet lower than the main frame of the Empire State Building. Although this stack is the tallest free-standing structure west of the Mississippi, it is dwarfed by the nearby height of the Oquirrh Mountains, which rise more than 3,500 feet above it.

Antelope Island in 1882 -- No Buffalo and Different Geographical Names

                            The Frary Peak summit, highest point, looking south on Antelope Island.

By Lynn Arave

IMAGINE Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake with no buffalo, only wild horses and cattle, plus with only boat access and even some different names in use. Plus, there’s also the tale of a mysterious early settler on the Island.
-Miles Goodyear wasn’t the only white settler who lived in Northern Utah when the Mormon Pioneers arrived in 1847. There was another, far lesser known man.
Daddy Stump was living on Antelope Island when the Mormon Pioneers started exploring the Isle in 1848. That’s also the first mention of the man.

                     A pair of dead trees serve as sentinels on the east side of the Isle.

Stump, believed to be a mountain man and perhaps also known as a bear killer, had built a small cabin and had a small orchard of peaches on Antelope Island.
The LDS Improvement Era Magazine from 1907 mentions Stump twice in its volume 10 contents. First, he is called an old mountain man. Secondly, several Mormon Pioneers reported that Stump’s rustic camp was located in a little canyon near a spring of water on the south end of the Island. Stump is referred to as an “old trapper.”
The somewhat mysterious Stump was not mentioned by government explorer John C. Fremont and crew during their expedition of the Island in 1843. Thus, Stump may have only been in Utah a few years before the Pioneers.
A history of Fielding Garr (first Mormon settler on Antelope Island in 1849) on quotes a visit to Daddy Stump’s camp by Brigham Young on Antelope Island:
“In 1856 Brigham Young visited Antelope island. ‘The time was pleasantly spent in driving over the Island and in visiting places of interest-bathing, boating and inspecting their horses and sheep. Old Daddy Stump's mountain home was visited. They drove their carriage as near to it as possible and walked the remainder of the way. Everything was found just as the old man had left it …”

                                  The central east side of Antelope Island.
Some sources indicate that Stump, a solitary man, may have left Antelope Island by 1849, after the Fielding Garr Ranch was established there by the Mormon Pioneers.
It is also generally accepted that he is believed to have disappeared six years later, in 1856 – with the assumption that he was killed by Indians that year in Cache Valley.
The book, “History of Utah,” by Orson F. Whitney, also very briefly mentions Stump as taking cattle to Cache Valley and that most of his herd died there (presumably from a harsh winter). Whitney mentions that others also lost most of their cattle there too that same winter.

                 Fourth-graders playing in the Great Salt Lake at Antelope Island.

Today, Stump is forgotten by most history books – except for perhaps a mention in a single line. His only remaining legacy is that a ridge on the south end of Antelope Island is honored with his name and that Antelope Island State Park periodically hosts a seasonal hike, called the “Daddy Stump History Tour.”
-The Salt Lake Herald newspaper of July 30, 1882 carried a report on a group of Salt Lake residents who spent a week vacationing on Antelope Island that summer.
The story stated that the group had to board the "yacht Maud" to reach the island, which had a dual name back then, also being often called "Church Island," since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held ownership of it then.
In fact, at one time in the 19th Century, the LDS Church had some 70,000 sheep grazing on the Island.

                          Buffalo in an early spring on Antelope Island.

And, even on the island itself, a reference was made to "Alma Peak," a point on the island that obviously eventually gained a different permanent title. (Alma was the name of a prophet in the Book of Mormon.)
"There surely is something in the air on the island, which makes the flintiest heart soften ..." the article reported on an almost magical quality to the place.
The group of Salt Lake residents spent their week horseback riding all over the island; reading, sun bathing, swimming in the Great Salt Lake -- and even singing at night.
"But someday in the near future, it will become one of Utah's attractions," the article proclaimed of Antelope Island.
-Buffalo first came to Antelope Island in 1923 for a movie set.
-Some 87 years after the Salt Lake Herald story on Antelope Island, in 1969, the State of Utah opened a portion of Antelope Island (the north end) as a state park after a seven-mile causeway was constructed across the Great Salt Lake to the Island. In 1981, the State of Utah purchased the entire island for a state park.

       The landscape on the west side of Antelope Island is even more rugged than the east side.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Great Salt Lake, 1877: 'A Monster Story"

     The Great Salt Lake, as seen from the northern tip of Fremont Island toward Promontory Point.

By Lynn Arave

DOES the Great Salt Lake harbor a large monster?
If it does, he rarely gets out. The ONLY time he was ever seen was on the night of July 8th of 1877.
According to the Salt Lake Herald newspaper of July 13, 1877, a group of men saw the beast near Monument Point and fled, far away.
Bear Lake, straddling the Utah-Idaho border has had its share of monster tales, but the GSL has just a single story.
Monument Point, where the monster was supposedly seen, is in the extreme northwest corner of the Great Salt Lake. (That's also northwest of Promontory Point.)
The men reported seeing : "a huge mass of hide and fin rapidly approaching and when within a few yards of the shore it raised its enormous head and uttered a terrible bellow."
The men fled to the mountains and did not return until the next morning. Then, they reported finding some overturned rocks, torn up ground and tracks on the shore.
One of the men, J.H. McNeil, said the beast had to be some 75 feet long and was like an alligator or crocodile, only much larger.
The men were night employees at Barnes and Company's salt boilers.
The men had also reported hearing strange noises from the lake just before the encounter.
The newspaper report stated many claimed the sighting to be a hoax, but that McNeil "is a man who veracity cannot be impeached."
-Unlike Bear Lake, the Great Salt Lake is a very shallow body of water. At Monument Point, the lake is only two to four feet deep anywhere near the shore -- and that's when the GSL is at its average elevation of 4,200 feet above sea level. (As of late 2016, the area where this sighting took place is dry, with the lake being down 7 or 8 feet from average.)

1904: A Plan to Raise the Great Salt Lake Level with Dikes

           Taylor Arave stands next to landlocked buoy in 2008, in front of Fremont Island.

By Lynn Arave

"PLAN to raise Salt Lake's level" was an April 28, 1904 headline in the Salt Lake Tribune. In that era, the lake's level had been dropping. In fact, Lagoon resort had abandoned its lake shore location about eight years prior (and moved inland), because of a diminished GSL.
The 1904 plan was to built dikes between Antelope Island and Fremont Island, thus creating two sections of the lake. Then, the 20 percent of the lake on the east side, could be fed with fresh water from streams.
This plan was the brainchild of Salt Lake resident John E. Dooly.
By 1920, Dooly was advocating that such dikes could help create a lakeside resort, complete with summer cottages nearby. He even envisioned a railroad line running all around the dikes, to showcase the beauty of the area (according to the Deseret News on Feb. 21, 1910).
Jump ahead two more decades and there was another plan for dikes to freshen the eastern side of the Great Salt Lake yet again (Salt Lake Telegram newspaper, June 20, 1930).
In later years, the idea also came too, but it was never attempted.
In late 2016, the lake level is near its lowest ever level, not just from drought, but because so much previous lake inflow is withheld for residential and business use.
Thus, if any of these dike ideas had been implemented decades ago, the eastern side of the lake could still be mostly a dust bowl, as it is today.
-Still, a causeway road was built to Antelope Island in the early 1960s and despite washing out various times over the years, it is still in use today.

A 1950s plan to dike the eastern side of the Great Salt Lake.

Main Roads in Arches National Park not fully paved until the 1990s.

By Lynn Arave

ARCHES National Park was a late bloomer, as far as paved road access goes.
Dr. J.W. Williams and other Moab residents were credited with the first automobile ride into Arches in 1936 -- and they only reached the Balanced Rock and Windows area. They took a very rough path, basically what a jeep trail would be called today.
It wasn't until 1948 that the State of Utah spend $16,000 to improve the road into Arches -- and even then this was an unpaved road -- and only to Balanced Rock and the Windows formations (according to Times Independent Newspaper, Oct. 22, 1947 and April 22, 1948).
It wasn't until the summer of 1957 that the 9.2 miles of road from State Highway 191 to Windows was paved, at a cost of $700,000.
It was still an unpaved road northward from there, to the Devil's Garden.
This section was probably improved and paved by the late 1960s.
However, the side road to Wolf Ranch and the Delicate Arch trailhead was unpaved until the early 1990s.