Wednesday, June 24, 2020

A pair of never built roads in Bryce Canyon National Park: One in the bottom and the other a loop road

BRYCE Canyon National Park had somewhat of a lackluster beginning, being in the shadows of the more highly esteemed sister park, Zion. From almost changing Bryce's name away from "Canyon" (since geologically it is NOT a canyon); to it almost became only a Utah State Park; to being administratively under Zion Park until 1956; Bryce has had some major "what ifs?"
And, here are two others to add to that list -- 1. In 1931 there was a failed proposal to create a loop road from Highway 89 through Red Canyon to Bryce and then back to Highway 89 at Long Valley Junction; 2. In 1951 there was a strong move to build a road on the floor of Bryce Canyon itself.
"Government plans new road to Bryce Canyon" was a March 28, 1931 headline in the Iron County Record newspaper of Cedar City.
This tentative road reached Rainbow Point (where the Bryce park highway ends southward today) and then would head due west to Highway 89 at the Long Valley Junction of U-14.
"The entire road would be about 27 miles long, with five miles being private lands and most of the balance in the Powell and Dixie national forests," the story stated.
The story also stated, "The new road would make it possible to visit Bryce via the present route through Red Canyon and then return over an entirely different route, eliminating all retracing. Most of the route would be at 8,000 ft. elevation and would add much to the pleasantness of the trip in hot summer months."
Why didn't this road ever get built? Constructing the loop highway was contingent upon the State of Utah being able to cooperate and create five miles of road through the private lands. This apparently didn't happen, likely because of property acquisition issues. 
Yes, the more recent proposal in 1951 was to build a paved road below the rim.
"Civic clubs will support move for road on floor of Bryce Canyon": was an August 30, 1951 headline in the Richfield Reaper newspaper of Utah.
Bryce Canyon put Panguitch, Utah on the national map, as the entrance, the last town before the now popular national park. So, the Associated Civics Clubs of Southern and Eastern Utah, along with the Panguitch Lions Club, held a meeting in town to discuss the idea of a road at the bottom of Bryce.
"The Club agreed to support a suggestion by State Representative John Johnson of Tropic to the effect that a road can be built on the floor of Bryce Canyon so that visitors can view the real scenic attractions of the area," the Richfield newspaper story stated.
It continued, "The main beauty of Bryce Canyon cannot be seen from the rim of the canyon."

                                    Imagine a paved road through the middle of this?

So, there you have it. Of course, the road was never built, but it leaves little to the imagination to envision a road going through the bottom of Bryce. Many, many natural features would have had to have been demolished to make room for such a road. Hiking would also not be a big activity as it is today in Bryce with such a road. Why hike, when you can drive down?
-In 1920, Bryce was just picking up steam with tourists. "Volunteers repair Bryce Canyon road" was a May 6 headline that year in the Salt Lake Telegram newspaper. A "road day club" had just been formed in Panguitch, with up to 47 men volunteering their time to smooth out the dirt road from Panguitch through Red Canyon and onto Bryce so that automobiles had better access.

                                                        The iconic tunnel in Red Rock Canyon.

-Initially, for more than a decade, the road to Bryce Canyon ended at the northwest rim of the amphitheater, probably near today's Sunrise Point. Walking or horse travel was the only way further south.
However, the Salt Lake Tribune of Dec. 6, 1929, reported that the National Park Service had allocated $13,700 to survey and begin to construct a road eight or more miles long southward along the rim of Bryce in the summer of 1930.
This road was "to afford visitors opportunity to view the canyon from many vantage points, instead of the one point now reached by the main highway," the Tribune story stated.
(At the time time, the Park Service allocated $280,000 to improve roads along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, particularly from the Bright Angel Camp to Point Imperial and Cape Royal.)

                       There are some small cliffs along the Navajo Trail in Bryce.

-Finally, while Zion has been host to a lot more accidents than Zion, given its sheer cliffs and towering rocks, Bryce Canyon has also not been immune to accident from falls.
Some examples:
1. "Fall from Bryce Canyon cliff seriously injures Cedar girl" was a June 23, 1932 headline in the Beaver County News. The girl slipped off a cliff near Point Supreme and suffered three breaks in her pelvis bone and a broken arm. It took rescuers several hours to reach her.
2. "Girl has close call in Utah park accident" was a July 13, 1946 headline in the Logan Herald-Journal. The 14-year-old-girl from Buffalo, N.Y. slipped off a sandstone cliff in Bryce and went down 100 feet "before she clutched the edge of a projecting chunk of sandstone -- one of the many spires which have made the canyon famous," the story reported. She was rescued with ropes by a park ranger. The girl's physician father treated her many cuts and bruises, but nothing was broken.
3. The Ogden Standard-Examiner of April 22, 1954, reported that a 61-year-old woman tourist from Illinois died in a fall at the park on April 21 that year. She stepped over a log barrier at the Far View Scenic Point, lost her balance and plunged 90 feet to her death down a cliff. She died instantly.
4. A man died in cliff fall in Bryce in September of 2003.

  -Another milestone in Bryce National Park happened in November of 1936 when it began staying open in winter, to Inspiration Point. Years later, that led to snowmobiling and cross country skiing there.

-Originally published in the Deseret News on June 24, 2020.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

When dynamite could have destroyed Lone Peak ...

COULD Lone Peak have been destroyed by a dynamite blast in 1937?
 “Will dynamite crash hilltop(?)” was the headline of an Associated Press story in the Ogden Standard-Examiner of August 19, 1937.
The story stated, “Lone Peak, lofty outcropping of the Wasatch range upon which a great airliner crashed last winter, is to be blasted at its tip into a tomb for the tragedy that claimed seven lives.”
On December 15, 1936, a Western Air Express Boeing 247 crashed just below Hardy Ridge on Lone Peak. Most of the aircraft was hurled over the ridge and dropped over a thousand feet into the basin below.
Lone Peak is an 11,253-foot above sea level summit in the Wasatch Mountains, located east of Draper. (However, strictly speaking, Hardy Ridge is located hundreds of yards south of Lone Peak, above Hardy Lake.)
The A.P. story stated that Western Air Express had secured permission from the U.S. Forest Service to dynamite the mountain top. This was in order to “bury the crash area which now attracts sight-seers and which, because of frequent rock slides, is considered a menace.”
The story stated that the seven bodies, luggage, mail and plane parts were all recovered after six months of searching, followed by two months of digging and removal work.
It does NOT appear that Lone Peak itself was ever dynamited. No reports of such a blast could be found in old newspapers or through Google searches.
However, at least one person who read this report said a book on the history of the plane crash does mention that dynamite was indeed used to cover up the crash site.
(The Lone Peak area includes a lot of unstable looking rock and so an explosion could have likely altered the appearance of the area somewhat.)
In any event, according to, Amelia Earhart herself participated in the search for the plane early on, but it wasn’t located until July of 1937 (the month Earhart disappeared).
(There have been four deaths on Lone Peak in the past 20 years. Two were from lightning and two were from falls off cliffs.)
-Notwithstanding the Lone Peak area’s disastrous plane crash, it has always been a popular hiking destination. “Teachers climb peak” was a Sept. 6, 1915 headline in the Salt Lake Telegram newspaper. The story said 15 principals and teachers from the Jordan School District climbed the peak on Labor Day weekend. They faced a heavy wind and snowstorm half-way up the mountain.
-The American Fork Citizen newspaper of Sept. 8, 1923 stated that six men climbed Lone Peak, also on Labor Day weekend. They camped overnight and had a large fire that could be seen from all over the area.
-“Wasatch Mountain Club hikers ascend Lone Peak” was an Aug. 4, 1925 headline in the Salt Lake Telegram. A party of 14 took three days to complete the hike.
-“Hikers climb peak to set new record” was a Telegram headline on Oct. 3, 1938. Wasatch Mountain Club members, Odell Pedersen, W.C. Kamp, Orson Spencer and Keith Anderson all climbed the peak in 3 hours and 58 minutes, one of the speediest times ever.
-Three members of the Wasatch Mountain Club scaled Lone Peak from the east side, that includes a 700-foot-high wall of granite. They did it in July of 1958, according to The Midvale Sentinel newspaper.

                                         Malan's Peak is east of Mount Ogden Park.

-ANOTHER HISTORICAL TIDBIT: This probably wouldn’t be safe in today’s drought conditions, but in the late 1930s, Weber State College students would hike to Malan’s Peak and Malan’s Basin each September and have a block “W” fire.
(Malan’s Peak is east of 32nd Street in Ogden.)
Some 90 students made the first-ever such hike in 1937, according to the Standard-Examiner of Sept. 20 that year.
In 1938, approximately 150students made the hike. They left the college campus at 6:30 p.m., drove to Taylor Canyon and reached the Basin about 9 p.m. and returned about 1 a.m.
“A flaming W on the mountain was lit at seven-thirty,” the Standard-Examiner of Sept. 10, 1938 reported.
This annual hike eventually stopped, but was restarted in 1988, though the fire tradition ceased.

                                                   Taylor Arave poses on Malan's Peak.

-All material was originally published in the Deseret News on May 13, 2020.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

A look at early ship wrecks on the briny and unpredictable Great Salt Lake

                                   The Great Salt Lake southwest of Antelope Island. 

THERE seems to have been plenty of boaters on the Great Salt Lake in Utah’s earliest decades who shipwrecked, or nearly so – and a significant number of them ended up stranded temporarily on Fremont or Antelope islands.
Perhaps the lack of weather forecasting, sparse communication and underestimating the punch of the GSL’s briny-laden waves all contributed to the disasters.
The first of these involves two near-wrecks by the Lake’s first-known white explorers, the John C. Fremont party, which included mountain man Kit Carson, who conducted a U.S. Government survey there. On Sept. 9, 1843, Fremont and his four of his men paddled a poorly made inflatable rubber boat to Fremont Island. However, half-way there a strong wind began to blow and white caps appeared on the lake’s surface. They had great difficulty in reaching the Isle, especially as air in the boat leaked out.
After their survey, they returned to the mainland, but faced a big incoming storm.
Carson’s diary stated they had not gone more than a league, when an incoming storm threatened them and the boat was leaking air. Fremont urged them to "pull for their lives," Carson noted, that "if we did not reach shore before the storm, we would surely all perish." Pulling at the oars with all their might, they barely made it. "Within an hour, the waters had risen eight or ten feet," Carson wrote.

                                                 Christopher Layton.
-Christopher Layton, a prominent early Layton pioneer, is the namesake for today’s Layton City. One of Mr. Layton’s lesser-known experiences was a shipwreck in the Great Salt Lake. In April of 1872, a small steamship, the Kate Connor, owned by Layton, ran ashore off Antelope Island (then known as “Church Island”) and became stranded.
The Salt Lake Tribune had reported on May 2, 1872, that the accident happened during a big storm. There were about 10 people on board the craft and it was carrying cedar posts at the time.
The fierce spring storm almost swamped the boat and the passengers scurried to safety on Antelope Island. Eventually, a sailboat was used to transport them back to the mainland.

                                                A section of the map at Hooper City Hall.

Next the wrecks get personal for myself. A large pioneer map of the Hooper area, on the wall at the Hooper, Utah City Offices (drawn and produced by the late Hooper historian, John M. Belnap), lists Nelson Arave (one of my great grandfathers) as having wrecked a boat on Fremont Island in the Great Salt Lake in 1874. Three years later, in 1877, there’s a reference in The Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star (Volume 39, p. 223) that states Nelson Arave had built two large boats to transport cedar posts and wood from Promontory (Point) to Hooper. Presumably, it was one of those two boats that wrecked on the isle.

                                      Nelson Arave

-Four years after Nelson Arave’s wreck on Fremont Island, one of his friends, Charles Smaltz, wrecked his large boat too on Fremont Island, in 1878.
-The Salt Lake Tribune of May 18, 1875 reported that the City of Corrine Steamboat (150 feet long and three decks high) had carried 80 passengers on a recent GSL excursion. However, a big storm struck and at one point the fear was the boat would capsize or sink. It didn’t, but the boat was eventually anchored about 200 yards off shore of Antelope Island to ride out the storm.
This was “one of the roughest voyages ever experienced on the Salt Lake,” according to the Tribune story.
The Salt Lake Herald in an April 21, 1882 story stated of the dismal history of boating in the GSL: “The fate of these steamers makes it clear that the people of Salt Lake City are not of a sea-going turn …” The story also described the lake as “capacious.”
-Blanch Wenner, who lived on Fremont Island with her parents from 1886-1891, told the Salt Lake Telegram on June 17, 1939, that it sometime took several days on a sailboat to reach the Island in bad weather – and sometimes required a stay on Antelope Island first.
-The Salt Lake Tribune of Sept. 21, 1913 mentions a lawsuit over the wreck of the boat “Argo,” that was used to transport sheep to Fremont Island and yet was destroyed in a storm in 1912.
-Finally, 15 Hooper boys took a 35-foot boat to Fremont Island in 1924 and were stranded overnight when the boat’s motor wouldn’t start. They used signal fires to alert relatives, but eventually got the motor running and returned to the mainland (-From the Ogden Standard-Examiner of Feb. 25, 1924.)
And, even the 1930s weren't always safe on the lake. Hazel Cunningham of Salt Lake City had a quest for GSL marathon swimming and this effort also highlighted the finicky lake's dangerous side. "Four rescued as boat sinks in lake storm" was a June 12, 1936 headline in the Salt Lake Telegram.

Her first attempt at a record swim was met with disaster as a sudden lake storm overturned the boat following along. A Salt Lake Tribune sportswriter and three of Cunningham's friends spent 4 hours in rough water with her before being rescued. The boat tipped over about three miles from Saltair beach. (It was just over a month later when Cunningham successfully made her record swim from Saltair to Antelope Island in fair weather.)
-There were, of course, a number of boat wrecks on the GSL after these. Bottom line is, the Great Salt Lake is not to be underestimated – even today.

             The Arave family on a tour boat near Fremont Island in the early 1990s.

-This story was originally published in the Deseret News on April 8, 2020.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A pair of antique advertisements: One from Ogden in 1959; And one from Parowan in 1933

HERE are 2 classic ads from past decades in Utah:
A KLO radio ad from the Ogden Standard-Examiner of Oct. 2, 1959.


An ad in the Parowan, Utah Times newspaper of July 21, 1933.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Confrontations with ‘monster’ rattlesnakes in early Utah

                           A snake warning sign, just off the road, north of Boise, Id.

RATTLESNAKES are a critical part of Utah’s natural environment and killing such a snake is illegal today. However, it wasn’t always so.
In Layton's first century, the action was almost always to kill any rattlesnakes spotted.
For example, the Weekly Reflex newspaper of Aug. 3, 1922 stated, "Last week Claude Coleman killed a monster rattlesnake on his father's farm on the mountain road (today's Highway 89). The reptile was six feet long and had sixteen rattles and button. This is the largest rattlesnake killed in this region for years," the story stated.

-“Salt Lake kills giant rattlesnake near city” was an Aug. 28, 1903 headline in the Salt Lake Telegram newspaper.
The story stated that S.C. Reed of Salt Lake was driving a horse and buggy up Mill Creek Canyon when he noticed a snake stretched across the road. It was a rattler, 3.5 feet long and as big around as the forearm of a large man. It “made a number of vicious attempts to strike him,” after he stopped to look at it.
So, Reed took a stick and kept hitting it until it was dead.
”The ‘rattler’ was evidently an ancient member of its tribe , for it had nine rattles and a button. These Reed secured and will keep as a trophy of the most desperate encounter he ever had with a snake,” the Telegram story concluded.
-“Gun more harmful than rattlesnake” was a May 30, 1910 headline in the Telegram. While a companion was attempting to shoot a rattlesnake in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Dennis Ausherman was accidentally shot below his knee.
-“A rattler attacks a cyclist” was a Sept. 7, 1895 headline in the Deseret Weekly newspaper. Si Murdaugh was riding his “wheel” (bicycle) somewhere in Salt Lake when he saw a “monster rattler” in front of him. He tried to run over it, but the snake caught in his rear tire spokes. The rattle was then able to strike the man, who fainted and tumbled off his bike. A companion came to  Murdaugh’s aid and found the snake had caught his fangs in a leather belt and not actually bitten his friend. The snake was killed and found to be six feet in length, with 16 rattles.
- The Herald on June 24, 1900 had the headline, “Little boy’s narrow escape from a big rattlesnake.” Lawrence Swan, a little boy, was stepping out the back door of a home on Fourth Street, above Eagle Gate, when he fell backward to avoid stepping on a large coiled rattlesnake on the doorstep. The 3-foot snake was killed.
-“The Champion rattlesnake story” was an Aug. 29, 1890 headline in the Salt Lake Times newspaper. A Union Pacific Railroad employee killed a monster rattlesnake, near Milford, with nothing more than clods of earth. The man claimed the snake was 10 feet long and had an incredible 96 rattles.
-A June 27, 1902 headline in the Salt Lake Telegram was “Fights big rattler.” While walking toward Fort Douglas, Mrs. R.H. McKaig and her maid almost stepped on a coiled rattlesnake in the middle of the road. “The maid, Louise Westover, was paralyzed with fear, but her mistress picked up several large stones and gave battle to the rattler, which was making for a sagebrush. One of the missiles broke the snake’s back. Mrs. McKaig will have the snake’s skin tanned,” the story stated.
“Brigham hunter bitten by rattler” was an Aug. 28, 1920 headline in the Salt Lake Telegram. Lorenza Bott of Brigham City was bitten on the leg by a rattlesnake while hunting in Blacksmith Fork Canyon. He sucked out most of the poison and is out of danger.

                            A water snake, not a rattlesnake, by the Ogden River.

-“He killed the snake,” was a July 19, 1900 headline in the Ogden Herald newspaper. Seymour Clark and Will Swan were bicycling up Ogden Canyon, when Clark had to stop to fix flat tire. While repairing it, he saw a rattlesnake and “stoned the creature to death.”
The Ogden Standard of June 20, 1927 carried the headline, “Kill rattler at Cache roadside.” Glen Putnam, a railway employee killed a large rattler in Blacksmith Fork Canyon, when a wheel of their automobile crushed the reptile.

-JUMP forward to more modern times and there were at least 2 times during Northern Utah construction projects where rattlesnakes became a major problem:
-First, during the late 1950s construction of the Francis Peak radar station, above Farmington, where workers ran into nests to rattlers -- despite the nearly 9,500-foot elevation.
-Second, during the mid-1960s construction of the Interstate through Weber Canyon (today's I-84), where construction truck drivers had to be on alert and could not open their windows, lest a rattlesnake in their debris being hauled would crawl over their cab and slide into an open window. Rattlers would get caught up in rock and dirt being hauled away, or moved. Weird, but old-time truckers swear by such tales.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

1856: When Salt Lake City was reported to have been sunk by an earthquake

                     Elementary students wading in the Great Salt Lake.

THE Deseret News of May 21, 1856 reported that some eastern U.S. newspapers had reported than a quake had destroyed Great Salt Lake City (Salt Lake's original name).
These erroneous reports apparently stated that Salt Lake had been sunk by a big earthquake and the few survivors were floating around in the Great Salt Lake on boxes or boards. And, a famine followed for all the survivors.
The quake myth was highlighted in a report from Iron County, assuming that the quake was not real. The report ended with "Hoping that you are safely beyond the reach of the 'Earthquake."

Monday, February 3, 2020

1907: When Davis County farmers had too much water

A rain storm in 2015 left deep puddles of water in Layton City, near Hill Field Road and Main Street.

"Farmers in Davis face hard problem. Heavy rains have saturated lands with too much water. Draining is of no avail" was a March 13, 1907 headline in the Inter-Mountain Republican newspaper.
The story reported that many Bountiful residents had moved to the north of Davis County for the open spaces and larger farmland available. However, recent wet seasons have caused them to wonder if they made a mistake in moving.
At one point, this was one of the driest areas in Davis County, but now saturated soil is making farming delayed and difficult.
This wet soil first became apparent in the spring of 1904. Where it used to require a 40-foot drill downward to access water, now it is on the surface in the spring season.

-The wet seasons also helped grass grow tall and wild near the mouth of Weber Canyon and caused some large grass fires on July 23, 1907, according to the Ogden Daily Standard of that date. Some wheat fields were destroyed and it took an army of 200 men fighting the fires to preserve some threatened homes.