By Lynn Arave
EDEN PARK, in Bountiful, is the most forgotten Utah resort of the 19th Century. It was also the most short-lived recreational spot of its era, lasting just a single season.
The first mention of Eden Park was in June of 1894.
The Salt Lake Tribune of June 12, 1894 reported that a naming contest was held and “Eden Park” was chosen to be the new resort’s title.
Constructed by Simon Bamberger, manager of the Great Salt Lake and Hot Springs Railroad (later simply called the Bamberger Railroad), “Bamberger’s Park” and such titles as “Bamdale” were also suggested for the resort’s name. Eden Park officially opened on June 16, 1894 and was designed to drive more traffic to Bamberger’s railroad, as it expanded northward.
The Tribune of June 13, 1894 stated that music, dancing a bowery, refreshments and night-time illumination were the key features of the three-acre Eden Park.
The Davis County Clipper newspaper of June 14, 1894, described Eden Park as a pleasure resort near Stoker Station, featuring picnicking, fruit and shade trees, plus a new drinking water artesian well. From Salt Lake City, it was 35 cents for a roundtrip train ride and admission to the park for adults. (It was 20 cents for children). There were six roundtrip passenger trains a day, requiring about 30 minutes each way.
The Davis County Clipper Newspaper on June 21, 1894 reported:
“The indications are that before the summer has past that Eden Park will be among the foremost of Utah’s pleasure resorts. Last Saturday the evening train for Salt Lake was made of six coaches all of which were crowded ….. A band from Salt Lake plays in the pavilion each afternoon. A force of men are still at work completing and beautifying the park.”
(Few, if any photographs of Eden Park exist.)
The Salt Lake Tribune of June 24, 1894 reported that a grand masquerade ball was to be held there on June 26 that year. Some 400 patrons a day were stated as visiting the resort each day. There were also swings and a baseball field there. Professor Peterson’s Orchestra often played there too.
The Tribune of July 3 that year stated that barbequed oxen was to be a holiday food highlight there.
The Salt Lake Herald of Aug. 7, 1894 said that an Eden Park road race was scheduled to go from Salt Lake City to the Park and that an observatory train would shadow the footrace.
The Davis County Clipper on Sept. 12, 1952 looked back at the resort and stated that it was located at the bottom of Barton Creek, on the east side of the railroad tracks.
The Davis Clipper of March 28, 1895 reported that the Eden Park pavilion had been moved that month to a hot springs. (The nearest two hot springs were on Beck Street in Salt Lake.)
So, the Bountiful garden resort lasted just a single season in 1894.
As Simon Bamberger moved the Lake Park resort in west Farmington northeastward to its current site by a Lagoon in 1895, that spelled doom for Eden Park. At an approximate half-way point between Salt Lake and Ogden, Lagoon resort was an ideal location and was Bamberger’s focus thereafter. Lagoon opened in July of 1986.
A shrinking Great Salt Lake had meant the briny water was a full mile from Lake Park resort’s facilities by 1895, making it unappealing to lake bathers, who wanted to “float like a cork” in the salt-laden waters. (Only Saltair resort survived into the 20th Century along the Great Salt Lake.)
Notwithstanding the receding lake waters, Lake Park had always had a mud problem along its shore. The Salt Lake Herald of July 31, 1910 reported that no amount of gravel, sand or fill could overcome that vexing problem either.
In that era of the late 19th Century/early 20th Century, “resorts” were not the thrill ride dominated parks they are today. They were basically shady picnicking areas with tables, dancing, music and sporting activities. Lagoon didn’t receive its first ride (beyond the "Shoot the Chutes" activity of slidding wooden sleds down an incline and into lake water) until 1906, when the carousel arrived. The wooden roller coaster didn’t come along until 1921, same year as the opening of a cement swimming pool.
Lagoon's original cemented swimming pool.