Thursday, July 27, 2017

'Great Bear Story: Bruin run down to Death by an Engine



                                     Modern railroad tracks.


IT was bear vs. train in early January of 1893.

According to the Ogden Standard Newspaper of January 4, 1893, a train running from the Golden Spike area of Promontory to Ogden, Utah was operated by Engineer Alexander and "struck something with terrible force but cleared the tracks without going into the ditch. The night air was filled with heartrending screams of pain but as it was quite dark and the cab had become suddenly filled with dust and gravel, nothing could be seen by the engineer or his fireman. The locomotive was backed up as near as possible to the place where the accident occurred. The cries had ceased and a careful search failed to disclose the whereabouts of the injured creature. As nothing more could be done the run in to Ogden was made without accident."
The story reported that on the return trip the Engineer "was surprised to see hanging up at the Blue Creek section house a magnificent silver tip bear.
Workers had found the massive bear lying near the track. The account stated it weighed some 1,500 pounds.
"The hide is being cured and will be used by Alexander as a rug to remind him of his narrow escape," the story stated.
This was also likely the same bear that attacked cattle in the Clear Creek mountains in the past two years.

The seldom mentioned Lake Monsters of Stansbury Island and Panguitch Lake

TALES of the Bear Lake Monster are well-known in Utah, but how about the Stansbury Lake Monster of the Great Salt Lake and the Panguitch Lake Monster?
These are two separate lake creatures, who in the past generated their own legends.

The Stansbury Island Monster:
"Monster that Swims and Flies sighted on Stansbury Island Shores" was a July 30, 1903 headline in the Salt Lake Telegram newspaper.
Martin Gilbert and John Barry were two Utah hunters who claimed to spot the creature, which they said was some 65 feet long, with an alligator-like head, spiny scales all over its body and wings than spanned 100 feet.
The men saw the creature fly and eat a horse whole. They shot at it, though all that did was mean some salt crystals rained down on them, as if the monster had armor of crystal salt.
They tracked the creature to a cave, but dared no enter inside. Soon, the creature flew away and when it came back about an hour later, it had the mangled horse in its mouth. After eating, it entered the lake waters and swam northward until it disappeared.

Although the Herald newspaper reported the initial report with no skepticism, the following day was different -- The Herald Newspaper on Aug. 1, 1903, reported: "The monster, the two hunters described carried enough salt encrusted on its body for every person who read their tale to have accepted the story with several grains of salt. However,t he impression that one of the imaginative nimrods in none other than Walt McDougall, who writes strange animal stories and draws wonderful pictures for the children, is growing daily. -- Editor the Telegram."

-And those two references were all there was to the Stansbury creature.

The Panguitch Lake Monster:
The Salt Lake Herald of  Sept. 21, 1878 carried the headline, "A Lake Legend: The Monster of Panguitch Lake: What the Indians say of Him, His Coming and His Going."
The story recount a lengthy Native American tale of the lake monster where the beast killed a hundred Indian maidens. One warrior vowed vengeance and eventually stormed the lake with thousands of warriors. The beast fled southward in a great flood and was eventually swallowed up in the Earth at the sink of tghe Sevier River.

A July 4, 1891 story in the Deseret Weekly newspaper stated that Panguitch Lake cannot boast of it monsters, like Bear Lake, because it has none.

-In addition to the monsters already mentioned, there are tales of a Sevier Lake Monster (since that's where the Panguitch Lake Monster supposedly went, though in recent decades there is NO water there); there is also the tale of a Utah Lake Monster and also the report of a sea monster on the north end of the Great Salt Lake.

-Add all the sea monsters up, 10 at Bear Lake in the initial report and those recounted here and there are at least 15 total monsters in 5 different bodies of water.




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The 2 former 'Temples of Health' -- Salt Lake and Ogden's Deseret Gymnasiums

                               The Former Deseret Gymnasium in Ogden, 550 25th Street.


ONE of the most exciting developments in Salt Lake City during the early 20th Century was the opening of the Deseret Gymnasium in 1910.
This "Temple of Health," as some referred to it, existed for some 87 years. (It also served many non-LDS Church members in the area.)
AND, not to be outdone, Ogden residents lobbied for their own Deseret Gymnasium and it opened in 1925 (decades even before Ogden had its own spiritual temple).
Salt Lake's Deseret Gymnasium opened its doors on Sept. 20, 1910. Located where the LDS Church Office Building now stands on North Temple Street, the Gym was just east of the Salt Lake Temple. It was part of the old downtown LDS University and used by students and the public.
Its official grand opening featured an orchestra and the facility cost $250,000 (or $6.14 million in 2017 dollar values).
Centerpiece of the Gym was its 30 by 60-foot swimming pool. 
Indeed, the Salt Lake Telegram newspaper stated on Sept. 17, 1910 that an early opening of just the swimming pool proved to be a chaotic and unpredictable affair.
"A mob of more than a thousand attacked the Deseret gymnasium at the rear of the Latter-day Saints' University this morning and for a time it looked as though the doors would be battered down and the building would be taken by a storm," the Telegram reported.
The Gym had advertised that any boy age 7 and up would be admitted free that morning and hence the mob.
"An average of 100 boys and hour were admitted to the pool," the story stated and some 1,500 boys got a free swim that day. The pool was 4.5 to 8.5 feet deep.
Men and women had separate hours of pool usage during the gym's early decades.
The original Gym also contained 6 bowling alleys, a basketball court and much more.
In April of 1911, the Deseret Gymnasium also had athletes put on exhibitions for General Conference visitors, with calisthenics, folk dancing and games (Salt Lake Tribune April 5, 1911).
The Salt Lake Tribune of March 9, 1911 also stated that indoor baseball games had been held inside the Deseret Gym.
In early 1960s, the Salt Lake Deseret Gym was aging and too small. A new, larger Gym was built to the northwest and opened in 1965. It featured a much larger swimming pool and even an indoor track above its main basketball court.
There was also a popular barber shop in the building and many a departing missionary had their hair cut there in the 1960s and early 1970s, before the MTC came along in Provo.
The Salt Lake Deseret Gymnasium closed in 1997 to make way for the new Conference Center, a block north of Temple Square.
-Ogden's Deseret Gymnasium, 550 25th Street, closed in the early 1990s and was sold in 1993 to Total Fitness. 

-Today, such gymnasiums are probably not needed, at least ones operated by the LDS Church, since many private gym/fitness and swimming facilities now exist.

Monday, July 10, 2017

One of the first drownings in the Great Salt Lake

            Davis County 4th graders play in the Great Salt Lake at Antelope Island.


YES, you can drown in the briny, buoyant waters of the Great Salt Lake.
Although the GSL's waters are 3 to 5 times saltier than the ocean and and can't sink -- but "float like the cork" there, you can drown in the water.
Inhaling the water can choke and gag you and the briny water can fill your lungs and stop your breathing.
One of the FIRST, if not the first recorded drownings in the Great Salt Lake happened on Sunday, August 6, 1882.
According to the Ogden Herald newspaper of Aug. 7, 1882, J.D. Farmer, a well-known Salt Lake City businessman, drowned near the Black Rock resort, on the lake's south end. Although his body could not be initially found, his clothing was discovered in one of the bath houses. He could not be located when the day's final train was ready to return to Salt Lake City. People searched for his body, but it was not found until more than four years later.
The Salt Lake Herald newspaper of Oct. 13, 1886 reported than his body was finally found about eight miles west of Garfield, along the shoreline there. The skeleton's size apparently matched Farmer's height.
The Great Salt Lake has an average depth of 14 feet and pockets of it can be about 36 feet deep, depending on lake elevation. 


                     A youth floats like at cork in the Great Salt Lake.

-Although no one can be certain if the first drowning in the Great Salt Lake wasn't the Salt Lake grave robber, John Baptiste, whom Brigham Young exiled to Fremont Island in the spring of 1862. This since he was never found after an escape from the isle, the Salt Lake Herald Newspaper of Nov. 14, 1895 published an account of the robber where "fact and fiction mixed." 
This report was originally published in the Chicago Chronicle newspaper and was simply, "a wild, weird story." It states that Baptiste was exiled on "Church Island" (Antelope Island), when the fact is the location was Fremont Island.
This Chicago story, a forerunner of fake news, spins Church Island as haunted and avoided because Baptiste has turned into a wild man, hairy, old and dangerous. It even acts like the Great Salt Lake is extremely dangerous with many boats sunk and people drowned.
A work of fiction in the 1890s, it would make for a dismal TV movie plot today.