Thursday, June 25, 2015

When the “Devil” was finally conquered in Weber Canyon

  An alcove, all that's left of Devil's Gate today in Weber Canyon,    Photo by Whitney Arave

THE bugaboo of Devil’s Gate in lower Weber Canyon plagued travelers for well over a century.
The single geological feature of Devil’s Gate is what detoured the 1847 Mormon Pioneers through Emigration Canyon, instead of lower Weber Canyon.
Narrow, curvy and sometimes called “Scrambled Egg Curve” in the mid-20th Century for all the overturned trucks, it wasn’t until the freeway came along that the “Devil” was finally conquered.
In 1966, the freeway finally opened through Devils Gate and Weber Canyon. That section of freeway in the lower canyon cost $3.5 million. 1 million cubic yards of material were removed from Peterson to Gateway in Weber Canyon.
The Standard-Examiner of May 22, 1964 stated there were great advantages to eliminating the horseshoe bend at Devil’s Gate.

                      The I-84 freeway bridge span, east of Devil's Gate today.

“A huge overpass at the Devil’s Gate curve was built over the Union Pacific tracks in order to eliminate the treacherous curve,” the Standard of Feb. 26, 1965 reported.
“The river, railroad and highway squeak through the practically vertical cliffs at Devil’s Gate,” the Salt Lake Tribune of May 26, 1965 reported.
All 63 miles of freeway, I-80, from Uintah to Wyoming were open by late 1967.
More historical tidbits:
-“Fined for riding on the sidewalks” was a July 6, 1917 headline in the Standard.
Back then, violators to Ogden City ordinance who rode their bicycles on city sidewalks were fined $2.
“It is the aim of the court to break up this practice as soon as possible and every person found riding on the sidewalk will be brought to court,” the story stated.
According to the Standard on April 5, 1910, all sidewalks were then made off limits to bikes, not just certain ones. This law also included motorcycles and even tricycles. Motorcycles were also henceforth required to carry a gong and headlight, to warn others of their approach.
And, the same law meant that cafes and saloons then had to be separate – without connecting doors – or face closure. Each cafĂ©-saloon had two weeks time to remodel, or lose their saloon license.
-The same 1917 story also reported that a man was fined $5 for driving at a reckless speed in his Ford delivery truck, with nine girls as passengers.
-Bicycles had been a controversial form of travel, even in late 19th Century Ogden. “License the bicycle” was a Feb. 7, 1897 editorial in the Standard.
At that time, some 1,000 bicycles (“wheels”) were estimated to exist in Ogden and for a proposed $1 a year license, many road improvements could be done.
-“Kept pigs near his home and is arrested” was a June 1, 1915 Standard headline.
The owner of a fruit and commission store at 2227 Washington Avenue pleaded guilty to charge of maintaining a nuisance – having a number of pigs at the rear of his property. The Italian man said he never intended to keep the pigs long, but a prospective sale of the swine had fallen through.

(-Originally published on-line and in print in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on June 25-26 by Lynn Arave.)

-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Malan’s Basin almost rose to new heights several times

                              Malan's Basin today, just clearing in the trees.

THE resort at Malan’s Heights in Malan’s Basin (weber County, east of Ogden, Utah) closed at the end of the 1904 summer season but plans were already underway to improve it.
“New resort planned. Electric line to Malan Heights, overlooking Ogden” was a May 31, 1905 headline in the 
Ogden Standard-Examiner. David Mattson, Weber County Clerk, had secured a one-year option on the land and then an option to purchase it.
Mattson wanted to improve the wagon road to the resort and eventually put a rail line in.
“Mr. Mattson is very enthusiastic over the proposition and states it is his intention to establish a hotel, dance halls, etc., on the heights and no pains will be spared to make the place attractive,” the Standard reported.
Those plans fell through.
By February of 1907, new plans were underway. Thomas Slight, a local artist, was painting a large picture of Malan’s Heights. It was to be given to engineers to design a cog railroad to Malan’s Basin and even a dam for a lake in the basin.

                    The spectacular view looking north from Malan's Peak.

“Cable to the clouds. Phil O’Mara and Associates to build to Observatory Peak,” was a March 12, 1907 Standard headline. Now, even more ambitious dreams of creating a cog railroad to “Observatory Peak” (today’s Mount Ogden) were made as the resort would be enlarged and known now as “Haven.”
“Will be no Resort at Malan Heights” was a June 30, 1907 Standard headline. “… there were too many obstacles in the way to procuring clear titles to the property” was cited as the reason for this plan’s failure.
In succeeding years, vandalism plagued the old resort’s property. From trespassing herds of sheep, who destroyed trees, to boys and men cutting down trees for Christmas sales/usage, a Dec. 20, 1910 Standard story stated up to 100 evergreen trees had been stolen on the private land and at least $1,000 in trees had been burned down.
“Electric sign on the Heights” was the next failed chapter in the resort, from the July 18, 1912 Standard. Ogdenite Gus Wright wanted the Ogden Publicity Bureau to put an “Ogden” sign, illuminated by electric light bulbs on Malan’s “Point” (today’s Malan’s Peak), to attract the attention of train travelers. That never happened.

                           Mount Ogden, 9,572 feet above sea level.

“Campers endangered by a gang at Malan’s” was a July 20, 1915 Standard headline. Some 50 picnickers in Malan’s Basin were terrorized by an unknown group of men who fired guns in all directions and eventually forced everyone else off the mountain.
“Notice to the public. We have leased Malan Heights for grazing purposes. Do not trespass. Hansen Livestock & Feeding Company,” was a June 4, 1918 advertisement in the Standard.
A May 22, 1923 Standard report mentioned a plan by William R. Miller to establish a pleasure resort in Malan’s grove, complete with a 10-mile automobile road and railroad access. He now had a lease on 1,100 acres, with an option to buy from G.H. Malan. The July 4, 1923 Standard reported that Miller had a temporary store, food and refreshments for hikers available in Malan’s Basin – for that summer only.  Groups of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts also camped there that summer, but no permanent resort was ever realized.
On Sept. 13, 1925, the Young People’s Society of Ogden’s First Methodist/Episcopal Church held Sunday services at Malan’s Heights.
Another big fire on Sept. 5, 1927 destroyed anything left of wood in Malan’s Basin.

            Just a trail now, this was a narrow wagon road a century ago in Taylor Canyon.

Note: Jump to 2005-2006 and Chris Peterson purchased 1,140 acres in and around Malan’s Basin with hopes of a year-round resort featuring skiing and accessibility by a gondola. That modern day proposal didn’t work out either and sadly vandalism (tree carving, equipment destruction, littering) continues to plague this historic property.

(-Originally published on-line and in print, June 18-19, 2015 by Lynn Arave in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.)

-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at:

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Looking back at Malan’s Heights: ‘Copacabana of the West’

                                         Malan's Basin today.

By Lynn Arave

“Malan’s Heights. B. Malan has now completed a road to Waterfall Canyon and is prepared to accommodate any number of pleasure seekers,” The Standard-Examiner of Aug. 20, 1895 stated. “It is the best resort in Weber County. Rates for round trip $1 from end of Twenty-fifth street car line. Carriages leaving at 8 a.m.”
Of course this narrow wagon road, in the making since 1893, actually went up Taylor Canyon, to what would be known as Malan’s Peak and Malan’s Basin. Yet, in 1895, Waterfall Canyon was the likely only place in that area most Ogdenites knew, outside of the Malan Family.
Bartholomew Malan had secured rights to some 800 acres of mountain land in 1891 and constructed the road with the help of his sons. Some passengers were transported along the road a year earlier in 1894, but Malan didn’t advertise his resort until the next year.
There would soon be a two-story hotel, sawmill, seven cabins and a clubhouse, built, owned and operated by the Malan family on about 10 acres of land.
“2,000 feet above the city of Ogden and 6,500 feet above sea level up amongst the pines and loveliest of mountain breezes, so cool and refreshing, having just partaken of a good wholesome dinner, I am now sitting in one of the two-seated conveyances that brought four of us up a rocky serpentine road 2,000 feet and seven miles from the city,” Mrs. L.L. Rogers reported in her “Trip to Malan Heights” in the Aug. 29, 1895 Standard-Examiner.

Hard to see, but a rusty, 120-year-old water pipeline just coming above ground in Malan's Basin.

For $6 a week, visitors had lodging and meals. Individual meals cost from 35 to 50 cents. Fried chicken was the hotel specialty. As many as 100 patrons at a time visited there, though only a dozen at a time could eat in the small dining room of the hotel.
There’s little doubt hikers and runners would have no path there today, or at least a different route, if the Malan family hadn’t pioneered their wagon road.

                                                 Tree vandalism in Malan's Basin.

Malan’s Heights was a paradise by all reports. Some hailed it as “The Copacabana of the West.” However, a year later, 
“You must pay Ten cents toll” was an Aug. 9, 1896 Standard headline. Mr. Malan was forced to levy such a toll to each pedestrian using his road, because of vandalism. Some people purposely pulled rocks down on the road, or hurled stones down, endangering those below. A man was hired to collect the toll and perform upkeep on the road. (This brings to mind the current  vandalism in nearby Waterfall Canyon.)
A Standard report on June 5, 1899 stated, “The visitors exclaim they never saw anything like the mountain scenery of the Wasatch Range near Ogden.” Baseball, horseshoes, croquet and hiking up to “Observatory Peak” (later named Mount Ogden) were among the activities there.
After just a 10-year run, the resort closed for good at the end of the 1904 season, after Malan’s sons grew up and sought other employment.
By a report in the Salt Lake Tribune, most of what was left of the resort burned down on Nov. 8, 1910 in a forest fire caused by careless hunters. A Standard-Examiner report on Dec. 20, 1910 stated that almost all the resort buildings had been burned down by campers in the past two years.
The Malans had moved to 2720 Taylor Avenue, in Ogden and Mr. Malan died in 1913.

                      The old boiler still resting in Malan's Basin.

    An old wheeled chassis in Malan's Basin, presumably used to haul the boiler up the mountain.

(Note: This information is from old newspapers. Malan family history details may differ somewhat.)

-Originally published on-line and in print in the Ogden Standard Examiner on June 11-12, 2015, by Lynn Arave.

-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at:

Friday, June 5, 2015

Camp Kiesel in the 1920s: Real Wolves and Bears

                                                        Camp Kiesel in 2007.

PLANS for a summer Boy Scout camp in South Fork Canyon date back to 1919, according to the Standard-Examiner of May 24 that year.
“Here’s easy way to give your son a vacation” was an Aug. 7, 1923 Standard headline, in what was referred to as the only “Boy Scouts’ summer camp.”
“This is the first summer camp Ogden has ever known,” the story reported. “The camp is easy to find. Turn north at the end of the pacing in Ogden Canyon, keep going on the main traveled road. You can’t miss the road.”
There was room for 20 Boy Scouts in each of the four periods in the summer of 1923, what was likely the first operating season for what was to become known as Camp Kiesel.
“Summer camp opens June 20” was a March 28, 1925 Standard headline. Scout officials had gathered for an Honor Court and discussion at the Baptist Church in Ogden.
“An interesting discussion was held on the summer camp for the scouts, to be known as Camp Kiesel,” that story reported.
The cost of the camp in 1925 was $4 a week, with fathers permitted to stay one night free with their sons.
“Camp Kiesel offers what is declared a rare opportunity for the parents and friends of the boys who are thee to study trees, flowers and birds,” a Standard report from July 1, 1925 stated. The camp also had a pet donkey back then, “Sleeping Beauty,” who the boys could ride in between shooting arrows.

                                 Camp Kiesel ceremony in June 2007.

“Deed of camp given Council” was a July 6, 1925 Standard headline, as 400 people attended the dedication of the Kiesel lodge. Some $5,000 had been spent camp and lodge, near Causey Creek, thus far.
“The lodge is in memory of Fred J. Kiesel, who with his daughter, often visited the spot and admired it,” the report said. Kiesel was a former Ogden mayor and his family gave the deed to the Scout Council that day.
By June of 1927, Camp Kiesel had added six more cabins and could accommodate 60 boys at a time.
“Camp Kiesel, Scout home, Place of eager spirits and voracious appetites,” was an Aug. 1, 1927 Standard headline. Each Scout kept their own dishes back then and an evening campfire, complete with a stunt or act (skit) by the boys was a highlight of the day (as it is today).
 “Boy Scouts watch play of wolves” was an Aug. 14, 1927 Standard headline. Seventeen Scouts from Troop 36, Roy, followed the tracks of a large bear, only to spot a pack of grey timber wolves. They were hiking to Monte Cristo, led by Scoutmaster L.H. Stoker. Scout Executive S.D. Young and Camp Naturalist T.H. Bybee met the troop for a four-day camp, enjoying nature.

(-Originally published on-line and in print in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on June 4-5, 2015, by Lynn Arave.)

-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at: