Monday, November 5, 2018

'The True Bear Lake Monster Story"?

                The south end of Bear Lake at sunset.

LELAND Steve Davis of Utah has his own explanation for the so-called “Bear Lake Monster” – and it is based solely on his own first-hand experience.
An avid sailboat user, Davis said he was sailing on Bear Lake on Oct. 4, 1975, a rare sunny and wake-less afternoon. On the south end of the lake, between Fish Haven and Ideal Beach, he and his boat mates spotted what looked like a large log floating in the distance.
Davis calls this the “True Bear Lake Monster Story” and in his own words recalled what he saw on the water that fall day in 1975:
“Within 10 minutes we were nearly running into "the log." But the log was not a log.  It was fish ... about 70 or 80 yards of carp. They were up, around 3 of them wide and right on the top of the glass like water. As we steered over them they did not scatter like you would expect. They lethargically rolled their tale find and fought to maintain the warming sun as long as they could despite our quiet craft nearly running them down.”
He continued: “Their tightness grouping together made it look like one big monster or one big fish. As they rolled my lifeguard said.  ‘What is that?’ I said that is the Bear Lake Monster! And then I realized that the phenomenon of the carp schooling together only happens when the sun is heating them this time of year. In the summer they are down in the mud. So, the reason not too many see it is because they don't go to the Lake when they are up ... I am convinced this is the monster that the Shoshone's told Jens Hansen about. And this is likely the same as the Loch Ness monster as well.”
Davis stressed that he previously that year spent a lot of time on Bear Lake, hoping to see a glimpse of the “Monster.”
In fact, he is a descendant of Jens Hansen – one of the original pioneer settlers in the Bear Lake Valley.
Jens, a pioneer of the Utah War was known to be "good with The Indians" and the Shoshones’ had a story to tell him of a lake monster in Bear Lake. That story was told to each generation down in the family, including to Davis.
In the summer of 1975, Davis worked as a sailboat operator on the south end of Bear Lake. Despite his high hopes of seeing the “monster” then, he didn’t – despite sailing every day that summer. That is, until his Oct. 4 experience that year.

                      The south end of Bear Lake.

“Swimming elk” was a Nov. 19, 1976 story in the Davis County Clipper newspaper.
Bryce Nielson, a Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Fisheries Biologist, reported on Oct. 24, 1976, that a small group of elk – cows and calves – were boxed-in near Bear Lake, with their escape blocked by the highway.
They then took off in the water, swimming 6.5 to 7 miles across the lake in 3 ½ hours. The next afternoon, Nielson saw the elk swim back across the lake, though a cow and a calf were missing, presumably drowned.
“Local residents indicated that they had never before seen such an event,” this story stated.
Also, it ended with: “Nielson mentioned that looking at the small herd of elk in the middle of the lake made him and other residents think about the legend of the Bear Lake Monster. Could it be that we have solved another mystery.”
The elk swam in a long chain, whistling to each other along the way. In low light, they could appear possibly appear like one creature, a sea serpent.
The Native Americans told the first settlers in Bear Lake Valley in 1863 that there was a monster in the lake. However, they had not seen it since the buffalo in the valley had vanished. Historically, the buffalo were gone from the area by about 1840, likely due to two brutal winters.
Would that frigid event not have wiped out or decreased the elk population as well?
Five years later, in 1868, was the first Bear Lake Monster sighting by the pioneers. Perhaps elk had now returned to the area. (Although this doesn’t explain an monster attacking stories.)
Given the increasing homesteading and human population in the Bear Lake Valley though the decades could also mean that elk are rarely seen around the lake now.
-Wildlife biologist Darren DeBloois in Bear Lake Valley, with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, stated:
"I haven't had any "monster" sightings since I have been here.  I have heard the story about the elk swimming the lake, and that could account for something in the water.  Elk numbers around the lake are small, and I haven't personally seen elk in or around the lake since I started up here in 2006."

             Bear Lake, Utah-Idaho is a high elevation lake at 6,000 feet above sea level.

OTHER explanations of the Bear Lake Monster:

-At one time, a half-grown Beaver was seen swimming in Bear Lake. Somehow its image on the water made it appear dozens of feet long, instead of just several feet.

-On another occasion, a bull moose swimming in the lake conjured images as a possible "Bear Lake Monster," especially in low light.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Game sanctuaries dominated Utah in the 1920s

      The Wasatch Mountains, east of Ogden, were once a game sanctuary.

THE Roaring ’20s had more prohibition in place than just with alcohol — there were many game sanctuaries designated across the nation, including in Utah, prohibiting hunting and firearms.
Weber County was the first in Utah with its Mount Ogden Game Sanctuary in 1920. This 180-square-mile wildlife preserve stretched from Willard Peak to Weber Canyon and from the foothills east to Ogden Valley. It featured no hunting or gun-toting allowed. Signs were posted and penalties were up to $200 for violations, according to various reports in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
“Bird Sanctuary is created in East Mill Creek” was a June 5, 1920, headline in the Salt Lake Telegram newspaper. Although just 16 city blocks in size, no hunting or firearms were allowed there.

The city of Murray followed with its own game sanctuary between 900 East and 1300 East and between 45th South and 49th South. This sanctuary not only protected birds, but small animals and even fish, according to the Telegram of July 13, 1920.
The Telegram of June 30, 1921, reported plans for a 49,000-acre game preserve in Big Cottonwood and Mill Creek canyons. Deer and elk herds were to be added to the area. This preserve still allowed an annual deer hunt and continued as a reserve into the early 1940s.
By August of 1922, Salt Lake County declared a huge bird sanctuary, stretching from Ensign Peak on the north, across the foothills to 7500 South.
A year later, in July of 1923, Mount Timpanogos was designated as a game preserve too, with no firearms allowed. In 1931, the St. George area also considered a preserve for the Pine Valley Mountains.
Cache County established a 10,000-acre preserve for deer and elk in the summer of 1933, according to the Telegram of June 8 that year. The mountain boundaries stretched from the Logan River south to the Blacksmith Fork, as a precursor to the much smaller Hardware Ranch of today.

Some of these sanctuaries, like Weber County’s, were gone by the late 1920s. Others faded away by the late 1930s. Not only were the vast areas hard to patrol, but they let the populations of some of the more undesirable animals spike out of control. For example, in the Mount Ogden Game Sanctuary, coyotes prospered and they not only attacked henhouses more in the valley below, but rabies fears worsened too.
Mountain lions were also on the rise and attacked more cattle and sheep, even though dogs were used to keep chasing them further eastward in Weber County. Deer populations were also rising and more deer were causing problems along the foothills of Weber County each winter.
Davis, Box Elder and Morgan counties likely had a huge increase in hunters during the 1920s, since much of Weber County was off limits. Deer hunting still happened each year in most of Utah, despite the fact it was outlawed in the Mount Ogden Sanctuary. For example, in 1926, Utah deer hunting season was from Oct. 20-30.
This same time period — the mid-1920s — was also when the grizzly bear was pretty much wiped out along the Wasatch Front. The legendary "Old Ephraim" in Logan Canyon was killed by a sheepherder in 1923 and the last grizzly in the Mount Nebo area was taken out in the 1920s.
In the end, regular annual hunting seasons for deer and other animals were established as the rule of the land, instead of having vast game preserves.
The exceptions were the establishment of bird refuges along the shores of the Great Salt Lake and other water sources, with limited annual hunting seasons for ducks and other waterfowl. For example, the Bear River Bay was declared a bird sanctuary in June 1925.
-NOTE: This was previously published in the Deseret News on Oct. 29, 2018.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

When Sir Edmund Hillary of Mount Everest fame hiked the High Uintas -- twice

               South Kings Peak, with Kings Peak rising in the center background.

 THERE'S a legend about Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first two men to conquer Mt. Everest in 1953, that he also climbed Kings Peak.
This is actually a true story, but it happened in the summer of 1978 when Sears and Kellwood (an outdoor equipment manufacturer), was testing camping gear in the Yellowstone drainage of the High Uintas.
Hillary, age 59 then, was said to have had little trouble hiking Kings Peak and the Uintas.
No stranger to Utah, Hillary had also floated the Green River during 1969, as part of the centennial commemoration of John Wesley Powell's 1869 original exploration of the area. (Source:

                                   Kings Peak on its southern side.

And, Sir Hillary had first visited the High Uintas in July of 1962, when he and his family enjoyed a 4-day camping trip in the Granddaddy Basin area.
"New Zealand mountain climber and family thrilled with pack trip into High Uintas areas" was a July 19, 1962 headline in the Uinta Basin Standard newspaper.
Duchesne District Ranger Larry Colton served as a guide for the Hillarys, as the family hiked and fished.
According to the newspaper, Hillary's wife, Lady Louise, and their three children -- Peter, 7, Sarah, 5, and Belinda, 3. -- ventured into the primitive area of the High Uintas.
Sir Hillary was under contract with the U.S. Forest Service to make a report on campgrounds in the western U.S. that year.

            Mirror Lake, with Bald Mountain rising in the background.

The family began at Mirror Lake, backpacked into the Granddaddy Basin area and then returned to Mirror Lake. They did a lot of hiking, but not any serious peaks. Sir Hillary said this trip was for finding "smiling" and not "fierce" peaks, according to the newspaper account.
The only negative to the trip were all the mosquitoes that they encountered, but that they got used to them.
Another Utah newspaper, the Vernal Express, reported that on that 1962 trip, Sir Hillary declared it "absolutely wonderful."

                      The High Uintas, northwest of Mirror Lake.

-A version of this story was also published in the Deseret News on Sept. 22, 2018.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Logan LDS Temple: Is a Historical Restoration in the works?

THE Logan Temple was the second temple in Utah built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was dedicated on May 17, 1884. (The St. George Temple had been dedicated just seven years earlier, in 1877.)
The Ogden and Provo temples were opened in 1972-1973, in hopes of postponing remodeling and expansion of both the Logan and Manti temples. That worked for a few years, but usage of the Logan Temple had surged by the mid-1970s.
Initially, Church leaders considered building a new temple in Preston, Idaho. However, at about 27 miles distant from Logan, a temple there was considered too far away from the Cache County base of temple patrons. A remodel was the only option.

According to information from Fred Baker, head of the LDS Church's building program, from 1965-1991, the Logan Temple remodel presented a special challenge -- temple patrons doing endowment work had to travel from room-to-room to complete the process and each room was a step or two higher than the previous room. In fact, endowment patrons started on level one in the temple and ended up on the third level to complete the endowment. That equaled great symbolism in ascending, but complicated any interior remodeling.
The Logan Temple was a historic pioneer temple and like the Salt Lake Temple, had many, many unique paintings and hand-crafted work throughout the building.
Church leaders decided to gut the Logan Temple and redo it to accommodate the video presentation of the endowment. That proved to be an inspired decision.

Baker said the Logan Temple's main structural beam was found to be cracked in two when extensive remodeling work began in 1976. It was surmised that a past earthquake (possibly from the March 27, 1975 Pocatello Valley Idaho quake that was near the Utah-Idaho border and equaled 6.3 in strength).
Thus, if the temple had simply been renovated, the roof could have eventually collapsed ...
Brother Baker said the Church had remodeled all 13 existing temples during his tenure and only the Logan Temple patrons were upset -- they felt their historic temple was being wrecked. (And, when the remodel ended up removing the entire inside and the roof, with the sky showing above, it was indeed an extensive process.)
(Church Architect Emil Fetzer had looked at saving the solemn assembly room in  particular, but decided just propping that section up would make a mishmash of the rest of the temple -- totally redoing the inside was the only way to go.)
Baker said he felt he needed bodyguards when he went to Logan as Church members there were so upset at gutting the temple. He said there were notes placed on his car and also posters about Logan against the remodel process.
The Logan Temple was rededicated on March 13, 1979. All the pioneer era paintings were gone and the Temple inside looked more like the Ogden Temple than the Salt Lake Temple.
The Church did save two of the large paintings and put them in storage. Others were painting on walls and could not be salvaged.
The good news was that using the endowment film meant the temple could handle significantly more patrons and complete much more vicarious work for the dead than before.
-There is a strong rumor in Logan that a complete or partial restoration of the pioneer aspects of the Logan Temple are being considered now, though there is nothing definite and no timeline yet.
That would likely please many Church members in the Cache Valley. Although the outside of the Logan Temple is historic, the inside of the Temple is far too modern to match its pioneer legacy.
Would the Logan Temple's legendary original "Gold" sealing room -- and more -- return during a possible restoration? Time will tell.

-Note 1: Why the Manti Temple was NOT remodeled with a complete tear out process, like the Logan Temple had. This was because the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers and the Relief Society visited the First Presidency and asked that the Manti Temple only be renovated. Their request was granted and the pioneer aspects of the Manti Temple still remain today as it still lacks a temple endowment film. Obviously too, the Manti Temple's main supports were in better shape than Logan's and had NOT been damaged by an earthquake.

-Note 2: The Author co-wrote the official Ogden Temple history for the Church in 2014 and much of the above information on the Logan Temple was also obtained during that process.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

How well do you know the Golden Spike story? Chinese Arch and the 1942 'undriving' of the Spike are lesser known gems

THE Golden Spike National Historic Site is in the middle of nowhere, at 32 miles west of Brigham City. 

                  The official countdown clock in the visitor's Center.

In 2019 (May 10), it will be the 150th anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike here -- and the countdown is already on.
How well do you know the Golden Spike story?

                    The famous engines that meet for the Golden Spike.

It is well documented, but instead of spending the usual 30 minutes at this site, as in past visits, I took an hour and even drove one of the dirt roads nearby.
Here's what I found ...

-I was surprised to realize that there was an "undriving" of the Golden Spike ceremony held on Sept. 9, 1942 there was a ceremonial undriving of the spike held. Since the Lucin Cutoff had opened in 1904 (a direct railroad route across the Great Salt Lake form Ogden, instead of heading northwest around the lake), the train tracks around Golden Spike were on minimal importance to transportation. Hence, the "undriving" and then all the steel rails were removed in the area and used for the American efforts in World War II.  

                  The Chinese Arch, as viewed from the west side.

-The oldest natural relic in the Golden Spike area is the Chinese Arch. Composed of 300 million year old rock, this formation is believed to have been formed thousands of years ago by the wave action of being under Lake Bonneville.

                           An eastern view of the Chinese Arch.

 This arch is but a few hundred yards away from the original railroad line leading to the Golden Spike. It is presumably named in honor of the many Chinese workers who made the national railroad connection possible.
It is accessible by a one-way, narrow dirt road ("East Grade Auto Tour"), that's fine for passenger cars and well worth the extra drive. 

This road is best accessed on the way FROM Golden Spike and then it merges with the main paved road a mile for so further east.

-I also took the 20 minutes to watch the historic movie on the Golden Spike's history at the visitor center and it is excellent, putting the railroad's biggest-ever event in context with American history. 

The new normal: A high and dry Spiral Jetty -- But still worth a visit

The Spiral Jetty, with Great Salt Lake water sitting hundreds of yards away, to the west.

THE new normal for the Spiral Jetty, in a northeast corner of the Great Salt Lake at Rozel Point, is a piece of rock art that's high and dry.
The GSL is not so "great" anymore and its shore was sitting some 600 yards away from the Spiral Jetty in August of 2018.
So, why would someone drive 50 minutes, one-way on a washboardy gravel road from the Golden Spike Historic Site to visit a waterless relic?
The peace, quiet and solitude here is deafening and yet appealing. 

                     The Spiral Jetty from above the parking lot.

Other than some pesky flies zipping around, this desert place seems lifeless of animals. But with just myself and my son, Taylor, there during our 90-minute visit, we weren't disappointed.

                    The center of the Jetty, high and dry in the summer of 2018.

During my only other visit there in about 2003, the lake's water lapped partially around the Jetty. Your shoes did get a little wet walking on top of it.
When Robert Smithson of New Jersey directed the creation of the Jetty in April of 1970, the GSL level was 4,195.15 feet above sea level. During my visit, it was down to 4,192.3 -- almost 3 feet lower. That may not seem like much, but in a shallow lake, it represent a significant amount.
During out visit, it was hard to believe that in 1986, the lake reached an all-time high of 4,211,85 feet. That likely means that the top of the Jetty itself was covered by about 15 feet of salty water.

                                    Bushes now growth in the sand atop the Jetty itself.

A surprising find was that there were several bushes now growing atop the Jetty itself. Without the thick salt water present to prevent growth, there will likely be more such bushes appearing future years. Sandy soil is also accumulating atop to Jetty, partially obscuring its unique blackness on the salt flat.
Also, just a dozen yards west of the Jetty there is a thick salty plain, leftover from the receding lake.
Obviously in the spring, or following a storm, the Jetty could be temporarily wet.

                                              The salty plain, west of the Jetty.

And, in the bushes below the parking lot above the Jetty is a 100-foot-tall wooden pole sitting among the rocks. If some storm decades ago heaved the pole up to its present location, it must have been quite the violent act of nature.

                              The old pole, near the Spiral Jetty.

Smithson paid thousands of dollars to have more than 6,000 tons of black basalt rock -- very common in the area -- moved and cemented to create the Jetty. It is a counterclockwise coil, some 1,500 feet long and about 15 feet wide. (Some of the rocks are secured at the bottom by concrete, which will likely lengthen its lifespan.)
Smithson, after about 5 days of work, had his artwork redone in another several days. He apparently loved this remote area and chose it in particular for his unusual creation.
A $9,000 art grant financed some of his hired work. (That's more than $59,000 in 2019 dollar values.)
This isn't the typical type of artwork, as in a museum. This is a hands-on/foots on, giant piece of art that is best appreciated by interacting with it. If you've driven that bumpy road to reach the Jetty, the final touch is to walk the 100 yards down a rock slope to experience the Jetty up close and personal by walking atop it.
(If you can't physically do that, you can still savor it from the nearby parking lot.)

                                The new monument, near the Jetty.

In 2014, an Eagle Scout project, added a nice monument on the hillside, east of the parking lot.

                                       The plaque on the monument.

To reach the Spiral Jetty, take the I-15 exit at Brigham City to Corinne and the Golden Spike National Historic Site and head west. The Jetty is some 50 miles from Brigham City.
Be prepared that just past the Golden Spike headquarters the road turns to gravel. Although the road is now well-signed, it is very washboardy in places and for the last 1.5 miles (near a large corral), the road is dominated by terrible such ruts and requires a passenger car to slow down to 10 mph at times to not shake apart. Also, be sure to slow down for the several cattleguards along the route. Trucks are the best vehicle for this bumpy road and they can also likely travel at the fastest speed too.

                   Note the many "washboardy type ruts in the road to the Jetty.

Also, respect the privately owned grazing land and do not trespass there on either side of the road.
Although a sign along the road states it is 15.7 miles to the Jetty on the gravel road, it seems more like 19 long, long miles. The road ends at the parking lot above the Jetty.
The nearest gas station in the area is in Corinne. The only water and restrooms are at the Golden Spike Headquarters -- and only when the site is open.
Note too, that cell phone coverage is also unreliable in the area, west of Corinne. Anyone experiencing an emergency in the Jetty area would have to scale to tallest  hill in the area and hope to receive a signal ...

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Why does Utah have a 'Hurricane' town?

UTAH doesn’t ever get hit by any real hurricanes, as it is too far inland. All it ever receives are occasional rain storms from hurricane aftermaths. However, Utah does have its own town named Hurricane – in the southwest section of the state.
According to: ---
“Visitors traveling through Hurricane might wonder why a town in southern Utah shares its name with a tropical cyclone – a type of storm that never has and never will make “landfall” in the inland desert. The curious name dates back to the early 1860s, when a whirlwind blew off the top of a buggy carrying a group of surveyors led by Mormon leader Erastus Snow. “Well, that was a Hurricane,” exclaimed Snow. “We’ll name this the Hurricane Hill.” The nearby fault, mesa, and, later on, the town, took the same moniker. How residents say the name might catch many off guard. Locals pronounce it “Her-ah-kun,” which is the British pronunciation.”
That pronunciation is likely because many of the area’s early residents had immigrated from England.
However, checking with some present day immigrants from Britain to American, they all pronounce hurricane like the standard, "hurra-cane." So, British pronunciation has apparently changed over time.
The book, “Utah Place Names,” by John W. Van Cott, states basically the same name origin for Hurricane as does
Van Cott just adds that Snow was the LDS Church leader in charge of its “Dixie” mission to grow cotton.

(The Paiute Indians, first known inhabitants of the Hurricane area, used to call place, “Timpoweap,” meaning “Rock Canyon.” )