Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Back when the 'girls' started the first collegiate basketball in Utah and even beat the boys

      An illustration of the University of Utah girls Basketball team from the Salt Lake Tribune of April 18, 1897.

WHAT are the beginnings of college and prep basketball in Utah? They aren't likely what you might think ...  But the University of Utah Women's Basketball team has a legendary heritage, though it be both obscure and intermittent.
Utah collegiate "girls" not only started hoop play in the Beehive State, in the late 1800s, but likely played some of the first public hoops -- if not the first-ever such games -- in the entire western United States.
"University Basketball-ball. Girls defeat the boys in the first open game" was a May 16, 1897 headline in the Salt Lake Tribune.
The story reported that in the premiere game played on the new outdoor field at the University of Utah, the girls squad beat a boys team by a score of 8-6.
The girls started timidly in the game, but soon took command, according to the story. The field was reported to be too dusty and soft "for pleasurable playing," though it has now been improved. The new playing field was on the north side of the campus and shaded by large willow trees in the afternoon.
The first report on "girls" basketball in the Deseret News was likely printed on Jan. 19, 1900, when the Lowell school girls team soundly defeated the Salt Lake High School girls team (forerunner to West High School), 16-2.
Apparently, boys didn't think basketball was a manly enough sport in the early years.
For example, back when BYU was Brigham Young Academy (before 1903), only women played hoops there. A photograph in the "Mormon Encyclopedia" on page 1410 shows the women's team that won the Brigham Young championship in 1900. The coach was a man and there were 7 female players, all clad in long dresses.
The girls of early basketball in Utah all played wearing very long and baggy dresses. An illustration in the April 18, 1897 Salt Lake Tribune also shows the University of Utah girls team wearing similar long dresses. That story referred to "basketball-ball" as a "mild rival of football" and stated that Utah State College in Logan, as well as Rowland Hall, the Mutual Improvement League (LDS Church sponsored team) and the YWCA had all organized girls hoops teams. 

               A Salt Lake Tribune newspaper drawing from June 4, 1897, of a U. of U. girls basketball game.

Several months later, in a June 4, 1897 S.L. Tribune report on "Basketball-ball," the drawings of girls players at the U. of U showed more streamlined dresses (yet still very loose fitting) that only went to the knees.
That report also claimed that a public game by University of Utah and league teams was the "first contest of the kind ever played west of Chicago."
The U. of U. young ladies team won that game, 8-3, over the Mutual Improvement League. Jean Hyde, captain and center of the U. team, led all scorers with 4 points. There was also some controversy in the game when Miss Hafen of the Mutual team tried to talk to one of the umpires about so many uncalled fouls for the opposing team. (The game featured two umpires and a referee) She was warned that to do so again would result in a foul. (Strangely, the drawing of the referee also showed him carrying a long stick.) Coach of the U. of U. team was Elmer Qualtrough.

                                               Miss Lucile Hewett
                                                     Illustration from the Salt Lake Herald

A Salt Lake Herald newspaper story of May 17, 1897, credited Miss Lucile Hewitt as being the U. of U student who petitioned the Athletic Association at the school to let her girls team play, with co-educational being a key concept in the early years of basketball teams.
That same story mentioned that one player had sustained a broken nose during basketball play, though the story characterized the game as  "exercise, simple and pure, vigorous and real."
Privacy of girls basketball was also a key early concern, at least for prep play.
"Basket-ball maidens. The elusive sphere chased behind closed doors" was a Nov. 6, 1897 headline in a S.L. Tribune report. The story stated that the front doors of the market, where the Salt Lake High junior girls practiced, was locked, so that no males would see them play. And, a sign on the door stated "No spectators allowed," so that "their gyrations should not be observed by callous males." (The girls team did have a male coach, though.)
-Three other observations about these early games: 1. Note the low scores; 2. Notice that games were played mostly in the spring, with most early playing fields being outdoors; 3. The 5 positions for players included: center, left field, right field, right guard and left guard.
-Sadly, the competitive basketball play of girls didn't last long in the early years of the 20th Century, partially because boys play soon became very popular and pushed them aside. It was also likely that in that past era, some felt it inappropriate for girls to be playing so competitively. However, many decades later, with the advent of Title IX in the 1970s, girls basketball teams in both high school and colleges eventually returned in force.

(-By Lynn Arave and originally published in the Deseret News.)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The scoop on Salt Lake County's missing mountain

      One of the paintings of the former mountain that hangs in the Utah State Capitol Building.

Salt Lake County has a missing mountain.
This mountain that isn't there has been gone for almost a century now.
Here's the scoop on where this mountain vanished ...

The Kennecott open pit copper mine, southwest of Salt Lake City, is Utah's most impressive man-made feature. It's only one of two unnatural things on the planet that can be spotted by orbiting astronauts (The Great Wall of China is the other). At 2.5 miles across and almost a mile deep, you could stack two Sears Towers on top of each other and still not reach the top of the mine.

However, most people probably don't realize that there's a "missing mountain" at Bingham Canyon — not the mountain of earth removed from below ground but a large mound that once soared skyward.

"It was a mountain," Philip F. Notarianni, director for the Utah State Historical Society and lifelong resident of Magna, told the Deseret News in 2003.

Indeed, two large paintings in the Utah Governor's Board Room at the Capitol depicts clearly how the earliest Bingham Canyon mining, located about 17 miles southwest of downtown Salt Lake City, looked. In the early 1900s, the reverse of what we see now was true — a road spiraled upward as the process slowly mined the mountain away before the "pit" came to be.

       An aerial view of the hole in place of the mountain, from Kennecott's museum collection.

According to Lila Abersold, visual arts coordinator for the Utah Travel Council, "Harry" H.L.J. Culmer made these two paintings of Bingham Canyon, probably some time between 1910-20, though no exact date has even been recorded.

They were among the earliest of paintings in the Utah State Capitol and capture Culmer's fascination with the mining industry.

"They are important paintings," Abersold said. "They offer a very early view of Bingham Canyon."

With more than 16 million tons of copper mined there — more than any other mine in history — a mountain is long gone and a gigantic hole is now there.

In Bingham Canyon's early days (1863-1900), all mining was done underground as tunnels were dug into the mountain. Miners were also then looking for gold, silver or lead, because the 40 pounds of copper per ton of ore wasn't a profitable process then.

By the late 1890s, all the easy mining had been done, and new considerations for the area were made.

Engineers Daniel Jackling and Robert Gemmell surveyed Bingham Canyon and proposed that copper ore could profitably be mined from the surface, using railroad cars and steam shovels. Their first report showed that the cost of producing one pound of refined copper would be six cents. With the selling price of copper at 14 to 18 cents a pound, their report looked impressive on paper.

There were skeptics, but by August 1906, steam shovels mounted on railroad tracks began digging into the mountain.

Less than three years later, the Utah Copper Company had 11 steam shovels, 21 locomotives, 145 dump cars and 16 miles of railroad tracks on the mountain. After buying out the Boston Consolidated Mining Company, which owned a portion of the mountain, mining really took off.

                                           The inside of the mountain is a deep hole today.

The "hill," as it was called, got smaller and smaller, and in 1912, there were 5,000 mine workers.

A major improvement came in the 1920s, when electricity replaced steam to power the shovels and locomotives. Shovels were also mounted on caterpillar tractors, giving workers more freedom to move about.

In fact, the Deseret News in December of 1922 reported that "a mountain once more begins to move" as mining activity increased dramatically at Bingham Canyon. "A whole mountain of copper is actually being moved away," the News reported.

It was in the 1930s that the "hill" was gone and mining work started to dig a pit. In 1936, Kennecott Copper Corporation bought out the Utah Copper Company.

(Written by Lynn Arave and originally published in the Deseret News.)

                                      How the missing mountain area looks now.


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Camp Steiner in its early days: Nearest road nearly 2 miles distant

          Looking down on Camp Steiner and Scout Lake  (center) from Bald Mountain.

CAMP Steiner, in the High Uintas of Utah, is the highest elevation Boy Scout camp in the United States, sitting at 10.400 feet above sea level.
But when did this Scout camp begin?
According to the Great Salt Lake Boy Scouts Council (, Camp Steiner dates back to 1930.
However, the first newspaper reference on the camp was published not until July 17, 1933 in the Salt Lake Telegram.
And, it was the Telegram newspaper on July 27, 1935 that featured Camp Steiner in a lengthy report under the headline of: "125 Salt Lake Boy Scouts go back to nature at Camp Steiner for period of training and play in Lofty Granddaddy Lake area."
Camp Steiner was named for George A. Steiner, general manager of American Linen Supply Company, a key supporter and donor of the facility.
Located around aptly named Scout Lake, this camp is also only a few miles away from Utah's famous Mirror Lake.

                          Mirror Lake, with Bald Mountain in the background.

In 1935, the road through the High Uintas was limited. The Telegram report from that year stated: "The automobile road ends at Mirror Lake, a mile and three-quarters away, and all supplies have to be packed into camp."
(That's not the case today, as the "Mirror Lake Highway" (U-150) slices right through the mountains and even connects with Evanston, Wyoming.)
Back in 1935, a single structure, a log cabin, served as headquarters for the camp. All users slept in tents. It was to be a few years before other cabins were built.

                    A view of the some of the lofty lakes near Camp Steiner.

The beginnings of Camp Kiesel: Four different sites considered

                                                  The open area at Camp Kielsel.

CAMP Kiesel is a household word among Boy Scouts in the Ogden, Utah area. A popular day camp, this facility dates back to 1925 and mostly serves Cub Scouts today.
However, four different sites to considered as possible locations before the South Fork "narrows" location was selected.
According to the Ogden Standard-Examiner of Feb. 27, 1925, possible camps sites were also debated, including ones along the North Fork and the Middle Fork of the Ogden River.

                           Water sports at the south end of Camp Kiesel.

The camp was to be named in honor of the late Fred J. Kiesel. He was a former Ogden City Mayor and is family had donated $3,500 toward a future Boy Scout camp east of Ogden. ($3,500 is almost $50,000 in today's 2018 dollar values.)
Back then, it wasn't the Trapper Trails Boy Scout Council that operated in the Ogden area, it was called the Ogden Gateway Council of Boy Scouts of America. 
According to the Salt Lake Telegram newspaper of May 13, 1925, a committee of businessmen (C. B. Empey, W.H. Shearman, Gus Wright, A.P. Merrill,  J.W. Ellington and John L. Taylor) made the site selection, whose location was about a mile north of the South fork "narrows" and near what was called "Big Spring," at the junction of Spring Canyon and Wheatgrass Canyon.

                            A typical outdoor class at Camp Keisel.

Then, an architect began to make plans for the site.
Development moved quickly and the camp first opened in June of 1925, with 60 Boy Scouts there on opening day. 
Camp Kiesel was officially dedicated on July 5, 1925, and a shooting expo was one of its initial grand-opening features.

                                           The BB gun shooting range at Camp Kiesel.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Proposal in 1912 to add mystic charm to S.L. with various names changes -- Lone Peak, Cottonwood Canyons

JUST over a century ago, there was a brief effort to try and change some Salt Lake area geographical names, "to add mystic charm" and avoid the commonplace.
The Salt Lake Herald newspaper of July 25, 1912 stated that Joseph E. Caine suggested a change in some titles for the area during a speech given at Liberty Park.
City Creek and Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons were particularly mentioned as being too commonplace of names for an area so rich in pioneer history and effort.
"With such a world of romance in our history we should not have given to that magnificent gorge of the Wasatch so commonplace a name as Big Cottonwood Canyon. City Creek, Big and Little Cottonwood and Mill Creek Canyons, Twin Peaks and Lone Peak are all misnamed," the story reported. 
"There are a thousand cottonwood canyons in the western United States and as many mill creek canyons.Let us give to these and other great works of nature names that will mean something in the history of our state and that will carry with them the romantic charm of the days of the trail blazers."
Caine also suggested that Timpanogos be returned as the name for Utah Lake, as the Spanish explorers and Father Escalante had titled it.
He said more unusual name changers could "add to this state a mystic charm that will live forever in poetry, in painting and in song."
Sadly, Caine's suggestions were not heeded, or perhaps the commonplace names he wanted changed were already too permanent in the minds of Utahns.
And, certainly in the 21st Century, such names have well over a century of use.
Perhaps the "lone" example of a name Caine suggested that actually had an effort to alter it, was Lone Peak. For at least a few years in the mid 1910s, there was a temporary renaming to "Mount Jordan" instead. (Lone Peak is a distinctive, solitary peak at the far south end of the S.L. Valley.) The new name didn't stick, but it was used in many a newspaper story of that decade, including the S.L. Herald of Sept. 6, 1915.
Caine also neglected to mention that there are three sets of "Twin Peaks," found just along the length of the Wasatch Mountains in Salt Lake County. Why that name repetition? Who knows, but "Double Peak" and North and South Twin could at least have been a little less confusing set of titles.

-Regarding Lone Peak, it was thrown back into public notice at the end of 1936 when a plan crashed on that mountain and yet could not be found for almost six months.
On Dec. 13, 1936, a Western Air Express transport plane crashed some 43 minutes before it was due at the Salt Lake Airport.
In  early June of 1937, some hikers found some airmail blown around near the top of the mountain and that led to finally locating the plane wreckage and the remains of its  four passengers and three crew members, finally ending the tragic suspense of the disaster.
An elevation of 11,000 feet above sea level, an arctic-like weather made location and recovery vert difficult.
It was believed, according to the Salt Lake Telegram newspaper of June 7, 1937, that it the aircraft had just been another 20 to 25 feet higher, it would have cleared the granite mountaintop safely.

-Lone Peak was back in the news about 18 months later when four Salt Lake men climbed Lone Peak's summit in a record three hours and 58 minutes.
Orson Spencer, Odell Pedersen, W.C. Kamp and Keith Anderson made the speedy climb from the Alpine side, They are members of the Wasatch Mountain Club and their exploit was reported in the Telegram of Oct. 3, 1938.

(-Other sources: “Utah Place Names,”: by John W. Van Cott and the Salt Lake Tribune, May 28, 1916.)

-Originally published in the Deseret News on Dec. 26, 2017.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Brigham Young used bodyguards too at times

                                   A statue of Brigham Young.

THERE'S probably not a single family in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that boasts a lengthy history dating back to the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith that doesn't claim that at least one of their ancestors was a bodyguard to the Prophet.
However, Brigham Young, the successor to President Smith, also used bodyguards at times.
For example, the Deseret News of May 2, 1877, reported that "a guard of about 25 young men" accompanied President Young from St. George to Beaver. This was an army of protection for the church leader.
"The President has deemed this precaution necessary, it is said, on account of threats made by the sons of  John D. Lee," the Deseret News story stated.

A trio of unusually titled mountain ranges in Utah -- San Francisco, Wah Wah and Confusion

                                              Kings Peak, center, highest point in Utah.

UTAH boasts a fleet of lofty mountain ranges. There are the kingpin of tall ranges -- the High Uintas, the La Sals, the Wasatch and the Tushar range.
However, the Beehive State also contains dozens of shorter mountain ranges, some remote and others far lesser-known.
For example, Utah has its own San Francisco Mountains, located west of Millard. And, in that same are are the Wah Wah Mountains. This particular area has a colorful mining history that dates back to the 1870 and the Wah Wah Range rises to more than 8,400 feet above sea level. The downside to this area is that it is very dry, with few regular sources of water.
Found west of Delta is another unusually name mountain string -- the Confusion Range. This mountain terrain was first publicly mentioned in an 1894 newspaper account and rises to a maximum of 7,430 feet.
-There are also periodic efforts in Utah to rename some natural features that are sometime deemed offensive in the 21st Century era of political correctness.
For example, Squaw Peak in Provo Canyon is one of these possibly demeaning titles.
However, there is also a same-named "Squaw Peak" located west of Milford. And there is also a "Squaw Springs" found in the La Sal Mountains.