Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Mantua, Utah -- A town that could have been underwater

                              Kayaking on today's Mantua Reservoir.

MANTUA, Utah is a small town east of Brigham City in Utah's Box Elder County. It was originally known as Flaxville and Little Valley. That is, before LDS Church President Lorenzo Snow visited it and said the peaceful little valley reminded him of his birthplace in Mantua, Ohio. Then, the new name stuck.
It is also somewhat surprising that Mantua even exists today. That's because in 1914 there was a proposal to put a reservoir in the valley and displace all 300 residents of the community.
According to the Ogden Daily Standard newspaper of April 16, 1912, a "Big reservoir in Box Elder Canyon" was planned.
The story stated: "The (Salt Lake) Tribune says that if plans now being fostered by Salt Lake and Utah capitalists are carried out, another irrigation project will be started in Utah which will involve and expenditure of more than a million dollars, and which has an one of its incidentals the wiping out the entire village of Mantua in Box Elder County."
Arthur J. Chadfield, a Salt Lake engineer, was one of the chief proponents of the plan, which would also take away some choice farmland east of Brigham City. On the other hand, it would be one of the west's largest reservoirs and could irrigate 10,000 acres around the greater valley below the Wasatch Mountains.
It was also estimated that it would have cost $600,000 just to buy out the Mantua residents and gain title to the land.
Of course, this project never happened. But in 1915, a large reservoir was proposed to the south of Mantua and a year later work began on that project.
However, a May 10, 1920 headline in the Ogden Standard Examiner stated, "Brigham City threatened by flood from reservoir which may give way at any moment."
This other reservoir was six miles south of Mantua, just off the dirt road today that leads to Willard Basin. This reservoir was built by Chadfield at a cost of only $65,000 and covered 90 acres.
Fortunately, this dam didn't break and the reservoir was drained and abandoned some years later.
Then, in 1962, today's Mantua reservoir was completed. This project didn't displace most of the residents of the town, though it did mean a loss of farmland.

                         Today's Mantua Reservoir.

Another 'Sardine Canyon' is also found in northern Utah -- Up Ogden Canyon

                                     The late Hermitage Inn in Ogden Canyon.

IT has to be more than a coincidence that both of the Sardine named canyons in the entire United States are located in the State of Utah .... and only some 30 miles apart.
There's the well-known Sardine Canyon along the well-traveled route of U.S. Highway 89, between Brigham City and Logan.
And, then there's the little known and hardly visible Sardine Canyon, located off Ogden Canyon, south of the Alaskan Inn and not far from where the original historic Hermitage Inn was found.
The Hermitage hotel opened in August of 1905. It boasted 25 rooms and cost some $30,000 to build. Soon after, a second story was added to the motel, with another hotel 16 rooms. Horse-drawn buggies carried passengers to the resort before a rail line was built in Ogden Canyon.

Trout and chicken dinners are the specialty of the rustic Hermitage. Boating was also popular on the Ogden area, near the hotel. (Two of the owners' own children drowned in a boating accident there.)
The Hermitage had a short run of some 34 years. An explosion and fire leveled the resort in January of 1939 and it was never rebuilt.
-In fact, the Hermitage received all of its original water from Sardine Canyon, according to the Ogden Daily Standard of Nov. 5, 1912.

William "Billy" Wilson, who built the Hermitage out of lumber in the area, also made a dam in Sardine Canyon to supply his business with ample, yet independent water, according to the Standard of May 17, 1912.
-This other Sardine Canyon was also famous for another event -- it was the site of the first open air (non-Mormon) Christian religious services in Utah. According to the Ogden Daily Standard of May 30, 1913.
Christians from Brigham City to Salt Lake City gathered at the Hermitage and then traveled up the trail to the nearby Sardine Canyon for their outdoor services. 

                    The Alaskan Inn, about half-way up Ogden Canyon.

-Today, part of Sardine Canyon, as well as Sardine Peak, are accessed by a popular mountain bike loop trail.
-The "why" the two canyons have the same name is somewhat of a mystery.  The Ogden Canyon Sardine version is indeed a narrow and small canyon, deserving of a sardine-can type title.
The Highway 89 Sardine Canyon name has a lengthy history that is explored in detail elsewhere on this blog.

        The other Sardine Canyon, along Highway 89, between Brigham City and Logan.

-Historic black and white photos are from "History of Ogden, Utah in Old Post Cards," by D. Boyd Crawford.

The Scoop on Wheeler Canyon, off Ogden Canyon

    The mouth of Wheeler Canyon, at the far east end of Ogden Canyon.  Photo by Whitney Arave.

WHEELER CANYON is the first canyon below Pineview Dam. It is southwest of the Dam itself.
Today Wheeler Canyon is best known as a mountain bicycle trail. However, use of the canyon dates back to 1866. Levi Wheeler, an Ogden area pioneer, located a sawmill on the stream in Wheeler Canyon that year and he is the origin of its name.
The sawmill materials had been hauled across the plains  to Utah. Calvin Wheeler, son of Levi, told the Ogden Daily Standard Newspaper of Sept. 20, 1919 about the origin of the canyon's name. He also said that when he lived near the canyon in the 1860s, he recalled traveling some 16 miles from Huntsville to kill 16 elk for food, to get through the winter.
-Also, a century ago, the area in Ogden Canyon near Wheeler Canyon's mouth was called "Pine View" and hence the name of the today's dam there.
-A Boy Scout troop of 24 boys, led by Scoutmaster Charles E. Fisk, hiked up Wheeler Canyon in the fall of 1922. They then climbed to the top of Mount Ogden -- with no trail to follow. Then, the descended down the left-hand fork of Taylor Canyon -- again with no trail to follow. Despite encountering cliffs and two inches of snow, there were no mishaps.
The Scouts reported seeing lots of blue grouse and willow grouse and even the tracks of a wolf. They returned to Ogden City after a 13-hour hike that covered some 25 miles. (-From Ogden Daily Standard, Oct. 23, 1922.)

-In the 1920s and up until the construction of Pineview Dam, there used to be the "Power Dam" at the head of Wheeler Canyon. This dam was built in 1897 and was some 40 feet deep and 300 feet long.
Ogden City got most of its drinking water from the artesian wells in Ogden Valley and also from Coldwater Canyon -- before Pineview Dam came along, in 1937.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Lesser known facts about Utah’s early history

            This is the Place Mormon Pioneer Monument at the mouth of Emigration Canyon.

Here are some obscure facts about Utah’s early history:

-First wheeled vehicle: In 1827, a four-pounded cannon was fired at a rendezvous at Bear Lake. This is also believed to be the first wheeled vehicle to cross the Rocky Mountains.
-In 1846, a McBride family left Soda Springs, Idaho and went south to the Salt Lake Valley. They were not impressed. One of the men wrote in his diary at a warm springs in the future SLC, “Hell is not one mile from this place.”
-The Hastings party in 1846 came down Weber Canyon into the S.L. Valley. They had so much trouble getting through Devil’s Gate, near the mouth of the canyon, that they left a note for the Reed and Donner party not to go that way, but down East Canyon and Emigration Canyon instead. That group took 21 days to traverse that area – only 36 miles long.
-Here’s a full count of the original, vanguard 1847 Mormon Pioneer group that first entered the S.L. Valley: 143 men, 3 women, 2 children, 73 wagons – including one boat and one mounted cannon; 93 horses; 52 mules; 19 cows; 17 dogs; and some chickens.
-Peg Leg Smith, who had a trading post in the Bear Lake Valley, offered the Mormons that he would lead them there for colonization. He met them in Wyoming.
-No one “bought land” in the S.L. Valley or the Mormon Pioneer colonized areas – Land distribution was usually done by drawing lots. “No man should buy or sell land,” Brigham Young said. “Every man should have his land measured off to him for city and farming purposes, what he could till. He might till it as he pleased but he be must be industrious and take care of it.”
-The limited number of Indian war and confrontations with the Mormon Pioneers is considered remarkable, given that they rarely did treaties.
-One of the lesser-known provisions made after making the Manifesto, anti-polygamy declaration in 1890, was that LDS President Wilford Woodruff ordered the endowment house razed to the ground.

SOURCE: “Outline History of Utah and The Mormons,” by Gustive O. Larson, Deseret Book, 1961.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Lagoon's wooden roller coaster was the largest in the U.S. when it opened in 1921

LAGOON'S wooden roller coaster is its second-oldest ride, behind the Carousel. The coaster, originally known as the "Dipper," opened in 1921.
However, the Davis County Clipper newspaper of May 8, 1905, reported that the "dipper coaster" was to have arrived that spring. It was being promoted as "the only attraction of the kind west of Chicago."

The wooden roller coaster didn't arrive for another 16 years, though. It was both costly and hard to obtain.
The Clipper newspaper of May 27, 1921 stated that the "Lagoon Dipper" was now open. Its cost was $75,000 (almost $1 million in 2017 dollar value) and it was built by a Colorado Company. Also, it was similar to the wooden roller coaster at a rival resort, Saltair.
(For the same 1921 season, Lagoon had also moved the "Shoot-The Chutes" ride slightly as the pond had been enlarged.
An advertisement in the Utah Daily Chronicle of May 27, 1921, called Lagoon "Utah's greatest pleasure resort" and the "Coney Island of the West." The ad also referred to the Lagoon Dipper "as the wildest ride you ever took."

The Bamberger Railroad offered rides to Lagoon every hour for just 35 cents a roundtrip. Also, a paved highway to Lagoon was now in place and auto parking at Lagoon was 50 cents (so a charge for parking at Lagoon goes back almost a century.) There was room to park up to 1,000 autos.

The Salt Lake Telegram of May 27, 1921 said of the new roller coaster and Lagoon:
"Among the important new features that will be found is the 'Lagoon Dipper,' a giant roller coaster that is said to be the largest in the United States, and while full of thrills from start to finish, is as safe as a rocking chair."
Lagoon also boasted of an artificial white sand beach in that era, titled "Walkiki Beach," as well as "Witzell's Jazz Band." Fresh water is what Lagoon also stressed (as compared to the briny waters at its competitor, Saltair.)
Sadly, Lagoon's claim of its roller coaster being as "safe as a rocking chair" didn't last but just over three years. On July 26, 1924, George Burt of Ogden was riding in the coaster's front car, obviously leaning forward (if not standing up), when he lost his balance and fell forward in front of the coaster. He was dragged for 50 feet and then fell 20 feet down to his death.

-Note that Saltair's "Giant Racer" wooden roller coaster had opened much earlier than Lagoon's, way back in 1893. The coaster was improved in 1916-1919 and was 110 feet high. The ride blew down in 1957 during a wind storm and was never rebuilt.

What are the Names of the Mountain Peaks and Canyons in North Davis County?

THE Wasatch Mountains, east of Layton City, are majestic landmarks most people probably take for granted each day. However, what are the names of the mountain peaks and canyons viewed regularly?
Surprisingly, the majority of the mountain peaks lack official names. Some long-time residents have opted to nickname a few of the nameless peaks. Even some of the smaller canyons are not even titled.
(Officially naming geographical features is often a complicated and lengthy process.)
And, those features that have names, there is usually a story to tell about their titles.
Of course, residents of the City’s east side have a much different view of the mountains than those on the west end.
From Weber Canyon to Farmington Canyon is the width of the main mountainous panorama that most Layton residents enjoy.

                                      Thurston Peak

-Kingpin of those mountains is Thurston Peak, at 9,706 feet above sea level.
However, this loftiest of peaks in those two counties wasn't even officially named until 1993 -- it was previously listed as a benchmark on maps, "Francis VABM" previously on all older maps.
There's now a permanent monument of Utah granite has been erected on the peak with a brass plaque, encased in concrete, that reads:
"Named in honor of Thomas Jefferson Thurston, a Centerville resident who viewed the virgin valley of Morgan from the summit of the mountain in 1852 and recognized its potential for colonization. Realizing its disadvantage was its inaccessibility, in 1855 Thurston influenced others to assist him to carve a passible wagon road through Weber Canyon. He was among the first to settle in Morgan Valley and is acknowledged for bringing about its colonization."
It took a five-month-long effort by the Morgan Historical Society to name the peak in 1993.
The fact was it is named for Thomas J. Thurston is very fitting, because that man and his family had lived in both Davis and Morgan counties as one of their earliest settlers.
It was a June 10, 1992 article, headlined, "Either way you look Francis is Tallest," in the Deseret News, that drew attention to the prominent peak as having no official name and created the spark for it to finally be named.
The view of the top of "North Francis Peak" in 1991, before the peak was named or had a monument on its lofty summit -- it was just a pile of rocks and some posts.
Thurston Peak is also the tallest Wasatch range peak between Willard Peak on the Weber-Box Elder county line and Big Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake County.

                          Francis Peak, complete with two radar domes.

-The other prominent part of the north Davis County section of the Wasatch Mountains is Francis Peak, adorned by two geodesic domes.
Francis Peak was named Francis in honor of Esther Charlotte Emily Wiesbroddt Francis, an early pioneer woman who settled in Morgan in 1863. Her expert knowledge of mathematics, particularly calculus, drew many to seek her help. She assisted early surveyors and, among other things, helped organize Morgan City into blocks, lots and streets.
It was customary in early settlements of the West to name a landmark after a person in recognition of services rendered or contributions made. Sometimes a first name was used. In the case of Francis, her last name probably sounded like a better name for the most prominent mountain peak in the area than her first name.
Brigham Young himself is reported to have honored Francis by naming the mountain after her.
Francis Peak was once Davis County's craggiest mountain summit. However, some 22,000 cubic yards of material and 32 feet of the peak's height were removed to level the site for the radar domes.
While most maps list Francis Peak's elevation at 9,547 feet, that was its original height and doesn't account for the loss in height during the $2 million construction in 1958-59.
The natural height is now 9,515 feet, making it the fifth-highest peak in the county. The facility's base adds 55 feet and the radar domes chip in another 60 feet for a total of 115 feet in artificial height - making the peak, some could argue, 9,630 feet above sea level.
The FAA originally wanted to locate the radar site above Salt Lake City, near Alta or Snowbird. But the National Guard was already using a temporary facility at Francis Peak, so that became the joint location.
Workers at the peak's construction site had to wear thick, long boots and carry sticks or pistols: Although snake experts said the reptiles can't live that high, someone forgot to tell the rattlers.
There were numerous nests of rattlesnakes uncovered in the building process, despite the site's almost 2-mile-high elevation.
In the late 1970s, a tramway was proposed as a quicker and more convenient access up Shepard Canyon to Francis Peak than traveling up Farmington Canyon. However, the FAA's approval for the site got caught in environmental red tape and never became a reality.

                                   "Layton Peak," center.

-For some unclear reason, only two of the 10 highest peaks in Davis County have names - at least official monikers approved by the Utah Geographic Names Committee.
-“Layton Peak” (unofficial name) is the first peak to the left, or north of Thurston Peak and is 9,571 feet above sea level. This peak is also tied with another unnamed one to the north as the second-tallest summit in Davis
“Layton Peak” is 0.7 of a mile north of Thurston
Peak and lines up with Antelope Drive. Like most tall
peaks in Davis County, the “Layton” summit also
straddles the Davis County-Morgan County line.
The “Layton” Peak rises approximately one vertical mile away the valley floor.
Over time, popular usage of such geographical nicknames often become the standard, official titles of unnamed features.
-“Ed’s Peak,” an unofficial title, was named after Ed Ford, who lived in a hollow down below in Kaysville, east of the City Cemetery.
-Note that “Bair” is the correct spelling of the canyon and creek. John Bair was the namesake of the two natural features, but his name has been misspelled “:Baer” and even “Bear” at times, (See the Deseret News of Dec. 29, 1995 for a full explanation.)
-In addition, there are three small lakes — Smith Creek Lakes — hidden on the east slope of the Wasatch Mountains east of Layton and Kaysville. (A jeep trail , the right fork just past Bair Canyon, leads to these secluded bodies of water.

NOTE: By Lynn Arave and previously published in "Layton Today," by Layton City and the Davis County Clipper.

SOURCES: Deseret News Archives, USGS Maps

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The First use of the Ben Lomond Name; Face on the Peak in winter?

                     Ben Lomond as seen from just east of downtown Ogden.

BEN Lomond is undoubtedly the most majestic peak in the Ogden, Utah area.
At 9,712 feet above sea level, it ISN'T the highest around, but it does have that famous Hollywood connection to the Parmount Motion Pictures logo, though.
When did the Ben Lomond name first originate?
The first newspaper searchable use of the title is from the Oct. 13, 1892 Ogden Daily Standard:
"North Ogden briefs. The rain of last Sunday was of short duration but of cool and refreshing tendency, leaving the first snow of the season on 'Ben Lomond,'" the newspaper reported.

-According to Audrey Godfrey, a Logan historian, Ben Lomond was named by her great-great grandmother, Mary Wilson Montgomery, who thought it reminded her of a favorite mountain in her native Scotland.
Godfrey also likes to quote an early North Ogden settler, Nephi James Brown on Ben Lomond, which is especially pertinent on the Paramount Pictures subject:
"The everlasting majesty of Ben Lomond to the north with its reflected rays of morning sunrise always inspired me as a boy."
Yes, Ben Lomond is a “mountain of dreams” and has sparked much inspiration over the years.

-While there’s no record on who first climbed the mountain, the lower face of Ben Lomond mountain was mined extensively in the 19th Century. Silver and copper were extracted and a 100-foot shaft was at one time cut into it.
Later, mining was conducted to the northwest, below neighboring Willard Peak.
The first recorded recreational hike to Ben Lomond was in the July 3, 1922 Standard-Examiner, with this headline:  “Hikers clumb (sic) to top of Ben Lomond.”
Four men climbed from North Fork, on the back side of the mountain. They began their hike at Smith’s Ranch at 9 a.m. and didn’t reach the summit until 4:15 p.m., proving there wasn’t much of a trail there in those days.
However, the men reported there was a metal box with a register book on top, so they certainly weren’t the first up there. Their downward trek required only 3 hours.

-There's also the legend of a human face (?A Scotsman's face) that appears on the front of Ben Lomond Peak during some winters.
Many have never seen or noticed the face, but the picture below does capture that the image does indeed exist -- without a little imagination.

                                    Ben Lomond in winter, with a possible face.        Photo by Lynn Merrill.