Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Old Syracuse Resort: Oasis of Trees By GSL

              The area today just south of where the Syracuse GSL resort would have been.

 Saltair and Lagoon ("Lake Park") traditionally dominate the history of pioneer era resorts along the shores of the Great Salt Lake.
However, just northeast of the east end of the causeway to Antelope Island and northwest of 4500 West and Antelope Drive in Syracuse was the location of the lessen-known seventh of eight Great Salt Lake shoreline resorts.
 This short-lived, 93-acre "Syracuse Resort," which predated the community of Syracuse, opened on July 4, 1887, in an era when “floating like a cork” in thick salt water was a very popular activity and a railroad regularly delivered patrons to this paradise. 
According to Don Strack on, the Ogden and Syracuse Railway was built from Ogden, southwest to Syracuse, a distance of some 15 miles. The line broke off the Clearfield junction and went 5.85 miles southwest to the resort.
The railroad wasn’t built just for the resort, it had other uses. For example, salt was taken by wagons  from the great Salt Lake to railcars. Most of it in that day was shipped to Montana for use in mines.
Later, several canneries were built near the railroad line and crops, like sugar beets, were also transported readily by rail out of the Syracuse and west Davis County area.

          Looking northeast from the causeway to where the old Syracuse resort probably was located.

  Today's entrance to the Antelope Island causeway.

Notwithstanding, a historical article by Irene Woodhouse in the Nov. 3, 1985 Ogden Standard-Examiner stated that the Ogden and Syracuse Railway charged 50 cents for a roundtrip to the resort and made at least two trips there a day.
The infrequent Trains would sometimes strand people at the resort. For example, on July 8, 1889, an Ogden group had to spend the night there when the night's only train left suddenly and early.
The Syracuse’s opening day on the Fourth of July in 1887 attracted an estimated 2,000 visitors, with about 1,100 people coming from Ogden, another 600 from Salt Lake and the remainder from nearby towns.
The Syracuse Resort’s claim to fame was that it was the “only resort on the Great Salt Lake with trees. It was described as "an oasis in the desert."
According to the Ogden Standard-Examiner on March 25, 1888: 
"The finest beach anywhere on the lake shore is at Syracuse. It is not muddy, in fact, it is just exactly what is wanted for a first-class bathing resort. A strong, substantial pier has been constructed, and on it are erected a large number of handsome bathhouses with every convenience for bathers. There is abundance of fresh water ... The shade is excellent ... Every opportunity for enjoying all of the pleasures of a seaside, without the rush, heat and worry ..."
According to "A History of Syracuse," (1965) by Cora Bodily Bybee, a rare, twin  grove of trees were transplanted from Weber Canyon and survived the salty soil in the area. There were trees on each side of the railroad line, near its end, some 400 yards from the edge of of the lake's waters.
Bathhouses, where floaters could change clothes and receive a limited fresh water shower afterward, dotted the west side of the resort.
Wooden piers initially helped bathers get past any mud and into the briny lake waters.
The Great Salt Lake was still high in 1887, being about 4,199 feet above sea level. However, it was decreasing gradually.
In fact, resort visitors initially complained about the long walk from the lake to the 70 small bathhouses. They were soon moved closer and a street car, pulled by two mules, shuttled guests to the bath houses and back.
There was also a dirt track for bicycle races nearby, plus a horse-powered merry-go-round.
Soon after the resort opened, D.C. Adams and Salt Lake City and Fred J. Kiesel of Ogden (also one of Ogden's 19th Century mayors), teamed up to construct Utah's largest dance pavillon at the resort. This building was 125 feet long and 75 feet wide. coal lamps lit up the resort at night and music was provided by various bands from Ogden to Salt Lake. Wrestling matches and even magic shows were held there.
A title ownership dispute over the resort’s land were said to be its demise in 1892, after just a five-year run. There’s also little doubt that the shrinking lake level didn’t help visitation either.
The dance hall was moved east to the Syracuse Canning Factory in 1903 or 1904. It was used for storage and for one more year of dancing. However, sitting on a foundation of poles and rock, one side slipped and warped the wood dancing floor. So, the building was closed and soon torn down.
Some of the old dressing rooms were used as sheds on local farms for decades afterward.
By the early 1950s, most traces of the western railroad in Davis County, were removed.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Liquefaction Danger: A Part of Davis County History

A part of Davis County history is also its geological past and present.
One of the greatest dangers in Davis County is earthquake danger, with the locked-up Wasatch Fault traversing through the county.
Major earthquakes have struck Davis County in prehistoric times and they will happen again. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.
Since the Wasatch Fault appears locked tight, is it storing energy for a future quake?
The Utah Geological Survey produced a map in 1994 (and still in use) that highlights the liquefaction dangers during an earthquake for various parts of the state, including Davis County (see a reproduction of the map below).
liquefaction is a "bowl of Jello effect" that could turn some of the ground to a slushy state and cause buildings to sink into the ground and in general cause a much higher destruction rate than from just ground shaking alone.
In Davis County, the map shows that most of Hill Air Force Base, as well as areas east of Highway 89 are in the very low danger range for liquefaction.
In the low area is a section of Davis County that includes the neighborhood where I live, Green Leaf subdivision in Layton, where clay soil dominates.
This low risk area generally goes from about the Hill Field Road Wal-Mart on the south side, to a part of the Layton Hills Mall on the south east and then generally otherwise only those areas west of Main Street on the east side. This area goes north to about Antelope Drive and is just east of the Union Pacific tracks on its western side.
A moderate area surrounds this low risk area and then the rest of the county is pretty much high risk otherwise.
Having earthquake insurance is a pretty wise idea in Davis County, though if you have a brick home, you pay a premium a lot higher than with a frame house.

For more information, go to:

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Walk to Fremont Island (twice) on Dry Ground!

                          Strolling to Fremont Island in 2008

                          Footprints in the dry lake bed of the GSL.

By Lynn Arave

SOMETIMES you've got to make history yourself, if the occasion presents itself (and nature cooperates), as it did for me in both 2004 and 2008.
As a kid growing up in Western Weber County, I often heard tales of the mysterious Fremont Island -- located straight west of my house.
One story highlighted a West Point, Utah farmer who drove his truck on a sandbar from the then dirt road causeway to Antelope Island, all the way to Fremont Island and back in only a few inches of water, when the Great Salt Lake was near a record low.
I vowed if the lake ever got that low again, I would walk all the way to Fremont Island.
(I had previously canoed to Fremont Island with Steve Hubbard and Larry Saunders and explored its secrets in the summer of 1982, when a herd of wild shetland ponies still roamed the island.)
One of the most reliable indicators of an extra dry Great Salt Lake is the presence of a large sandbar that leads to Fremont Island.
You can't walk on water without divine help, but you can get a kick out of this kind of a limited "Red Sea on dry ground" experience by walking on this waterless sandbar to Fremont Island when the Great Salt Lake level is 4,194.5 feet or lower.
That certainly was the case in September 2008, as the lake level sat at 4,194.1 feet above sea level. This sandbar (referred to as the "Fremont Island Bar" on maps) is located about 1.6 miles out from the causeway connection at the northeastern edge of Antelope Island.
 Why boat the lake when you can simply walk some of it? Seeing first-hand how dry this large tract of lake bed is illustrates perfectly the impact of low lake levels.
The window of opportunity for this kind of feat is small, with the sandbar being water free only 14 times in the past 167 years. In normal years, when the lake is at its 4,200-foot average elevation, the sandbar is under nearly six feet of salty water. 
During the lake's record high level of 1985 (at 4,212-feet), the sandbar was under 17 feet of water. 
 Prior to that, the sandbar had consecutive dry periods during portions of 1960 to 1965. The years 1936 and 1937 and 1939 to 1941 also offered brief periods of a dry sandbar. The sandbar is huge. It's almost a mile wide in places and goes 6.5 miles northwest to Fremont Island. Walking across the sandbar is like walking on the moon — no vegetation, almost nothing. It's the void itself that becomes an eerie attraction.
 The first few hundred feet off the causeway are the muddiest. From there, you might sink a bit in the crusty lake bed, but it is far easier than walking through sand. It's startling how empty the vast lake bed is.

In fact, rainfall can inundate portions of the sandbar, especially near the Causeway start. So, is isn't just the low lake level, there needs to be several weeks of dry sunny weather to evaporate any rainwater on the sandbar. Otherwise, it can be a mucky mess of sinking, almost like quicksand!

UPDATE 2015: You can't legally walk to Fremont Island on the sandbar anymore. Prosecution signs have been posted. (See below).

     As of 2015, no more walking to Fremont Island, per this warning sign posted at the sandbar start..

                        No unauthorized vehicles on the Sandbar to Fremont Island.

                          The sandbar "road" to Fremont Island, Oct. 21, 2015.

Bird feathers here and there are the most common sight. There are also periodic dead birds, tumbleweeds, rocks, shotgun shell casings, old tires and bottles. A few ropes and plastic buoys also crop up. Faded tracks of three-wheeled ATVs are sometimes visible along the sandbar.
(During my 2004 walk, with Ryan Layton and Mike Spencer, we  encountered some type of large ship anchor about two miles out. It had been hauled away by someone before my 2008 walk. We only went to edge of the island that trip, lacking permission to visit Fremont Island itself.)
Fremont Island's owners can legally use the sandbar to reach the island and these tracks were probably from as long ago as 2004, the last time the sandbar was this dry. It took about 2 1/2 hours to walk the entire sandbar to Fremont Island.
Any potential lake bed walkers should be aware that Fremont Island is privately owned and requires permission to legally visit it. Also, there is no parking allowed along the causeway to Antelope Island.
Lightning during any storms would be of the greatest danger here too.
But this sandbar to Fremont Island is huge in places, spanning more than 1,000 yards in width.
After the fall of 2008, the Great Salt Lake's water level rose again and this feat was not possible in 2009, 2010, 2011 or 2012. (It was possible to walk the bar, briefly, in the fall of 2013.)
Odds are looking like with a dry winter in 2013-14, the sandbar could be walkable again in the fall of 2014.

Note that the sandbar curves on its west end -- it eventually reaches a section of lake water, but head east and the sandbar curves around this depression .....

              Kit Carson's famous cross at the north end of Fremont Island isn't all that large.

                      The strange shaped rock where Carson's cross was carved.

               Taylor Arave stands next to a landlocked buoy at the eastern bay of Fremont Island..

   Taylor Arave holds up his walking stick to show how deep the water here might have been in the mid                  1980s, when record water levels were reached by the GSL. This area is now under some 3 feet of water and has been under some 17 feet of water here before.

The Fremont Island Sandbar was discovered in the 1930s by Charles Stoddard of West Point.
He was able to put stakes in the lakebed to mark where the sandbar was and found it to be some 3/4 of a mile wide in places. The lake level was just 6 inches above the sandbar then, with often low lake levels of the 1930s.
According to the Davis County Clipper newspaper of May 19, 1967, Stodard then created a "Lakemobile" to traverse the sandbar.
This was a model "A" Ford Truck with caterpillar-like chains on it.
It easily crossed the sandbar to Fremont for several years.
Although there was no causeway to Antelope Island back then, Stoddard would have likely accessed the bar from the east, somewhere near Howard Slaugh.
However, in 1942, an iceberg ("saltberg?")  in the lake (they do form some years) struck his vehicle. This berg was 30 feet high and some 100 feet square. He escaped from the truck over ice on the lake's surface in the area.
When he returned the next year, he found his vehicle in a bog of quicksand material, where the ice had pushed it. He had to work at it, but soon got all the salt encrusted material off the engine and spark plugs and got the motor going and the Lakemobile moved once again.
However, the lake began an upcycle soon after and it would not be until the early 1960s that the levels dropped again.
The Fremont Sandbar is listed on some lake maps.
Apparently, the City of Corinne boat in the 1870s traversed through the Fremont Sandbar area and noted its presence.
The Fremont Sandbar also became important again in the 1960s. 
According to the Davis County Clipper on Nov. 27, 1964, when the original causeway to Antelope Island was constructed, builders took some of the sandbar itself (a mixture of sand and salt) and used it for portions of the causeway, instead of having to haul in fill from further away. 

                                                    Our foot prints in the cracked, dry lake bed.

                                      The Wenner grave marker on Fremont Island, above/below.

   Look to the left side of this photo and you can see the huge sandbar snake toward the Causeway. This picture was taken along the southern end of Fremont Island looking toward Antelope Island.

--John C. Fremont and Kit Carson, a pair of legendary 19th-century Western explorers, would certainly be awestruck by a visit to 21st-century Utah. That's not just because of modern technology, but because many Americans actually enjoy and savor "badlands" areas, places of no apparent worth in their day.

During a Sept. 9, 1843, trip to the island in the Great Salt Lake — the first recorded there — Fremont dubbed the isle "Disappointment Island" for its barren nature and lack of game. Carson was so bored he chiseled a cross in a rock there.
However, in the 21st century, Fremont Island is one of the most magical of places in the wondrous Great Salt Lake. It is the only privately owned isle in the lake and boasts fascinating tales of romance and a mysterious grave robber once exiled there, and scenic panoramas that are unrivaled in the Salt Lake Valley.
(Because of its private ownership, permission is required to legally visit the island.)
Some may have to switch into a "desert" gear to best enjoy Fremont. Void of all but a few trees, it isn't much different from Antelope Island. However, undeveloped, with only a few fences, it's like a trip back in time.
Peter G. Czerny, author of "The Great Great Salt Lake" book, accurately stated of Fremont Island, "For even though the island is barren it has a magical quality and those who have visited it have never lost the desire to return to it."
Today the island is used for ranching. Horses, cattle and sheep happily roam the isolated island, third-largest in the Great Salt Lake, behind Antelope and Stansbury islands. Fremont is about five miles long and more than three miles wide at its widest point.
Explorer Fremont and his party of four other men followed the Weber River and used an "India rubber" boat of that day to float to the island that they hoped was a paradise. After making surveys, they left in disappointment. The only excitement the explorers had was being threatened by an incoming thunderstorm; they felt they had to frantically row for their lives to get off the Great Salt Lake.
On April 22, 1848, Albert Carrington and a group of other Mormon pioneers boated around the Great Salt Lake and visited the isle and named it "Castle Island," for the throne-like top on its north end.
In the summer of 1850, Howard Stansbury surveyed the Great Salt Lake and gave the isle its permanent title. During the spring of 1859, Henry W. Jacob and Dan Miller of Farmington put 153 head of sheep on Fremont. They called the island "Miller's Island," though Fremont later won out as the official title.
Jean Baptiste, a Salt Lake City cemetery worker, was arrested for robbing at least 300 graves in the cemetery of clothes and jewelry in early 1862.
Brigham Young said imprisoning the man would do no good and suggested making him "a fugitive and a vagabond upon the Earth."
As such, he was banished to Fremont Island in the early spring of 1862. Water around the island was at least eight feet deep then.
There was a shack and provisions on Fremont. After six weeks there, Baptiste vanished. He had torn the roof and sides of the shack down, killed a 3-year-old heifer and cut portions of the hide into thongs, undoubtedly to make a raft to escape from the island.
What happened to Baptiste? There are many theories. The most plausible are that he drowned trying to float away from the island, or that he made his way to Montana.But Baptiste remains the specter of the island and lake because his fate remains uncertain.
The years 1871-73 featured a brief span of mining for precious metals on Fremont Island. Some 38 claims were made, but only small veins of silver, gold, copper and lead were found.
The island then became owned by the state government and Central Pacific Railroad.
In 1886, Salt Lake probate judge Uriah J. Wenner obtained possession of the island and moved there with his wife, Kate, and two small children for five years to help his battle with tuberculosis through salty, fresh air. The family loved living on the desert isle.
"I lived five consecutive years without a tree, without a neighbor and during this isolation from the world I made just one trip to mainland," Kate Wenner Noble's own diary recorded. "We learned to know ourselves, enjoy ourselves, children and books — without worrying about fashions or gossip and the like in the outside world. ... Fremont Island was my happy home, not a neglected sheep ranch as it is now."
Uriah Wenner died there on Sept. 19, 1891, and was buried on the island. The family moved away and Kate Wenner remarried. When she died on Dec. 29, 1942, her ashes were taken to the island next to her first husband that next June.
Today their graves are enclosed by a fence at the south end of the island. Their stone house foundation is also found nearby.
In 1960, the Richards family purchased the island and remains the current owner.
Visiting Fremont Island now is more desert-like than ever. With the Great Salt Lake so low, the island's shoreline is huge.
Mosquitoes and horseflies seem to love the south end of the island and were out in force to greet hikers. The grave site is here, among many cactus. Some lizards also reside on the island, but blow snakes — or any snakes — are rare these days here. An island-wide fire in 1940 apparently wiped most of them out.
Cattle have grazed this end of the isle well and cow pies have to be sidestepped everywhere.
An old tractor and farm implement was in 2004 sitting just above the island's southeast beach. An occasional tin can, plastic bucket or pile of animal bones dot the landscape, but they are few and far between. One of the island's lone trees is also found in this area.
A few brackish wells supply water for the livestock on the island.
The stone house where the Wenner's lived was readily visible until the early 1970s. Today, it has been leveled by the elements and to find it, you are searching for no more than a small house foundation, below ground.
Moving northward, the center of Fremont rises in elevation some 800 feet. It's a steep climb in places, but it's void of most bugs up there. Some three miles distant are Castle Rock and Carson's cross.
Unusual black rocks grace the island's upper reaches, and one of them contain's Carson's cross. There is at least one small cave, and a metal pole sits atop the island's highest point.
Wild shetland ponies roamed the island as late as the 1980s. Today, they are gone, having been rounded up and taken off.
There were cows and sheep grazing on the island in 2008.
Sweeping views are found in every direction, and a lake breeze continually blows, moderating temperatures. Most of the island is totally quiet. Only the occasional jet flying over, or a passing boat on the west side, breaks the silence. At the north end, industrial noise from lake chemical industries near Little Mountain or from the Lucin railroad causeway can sometimes be heard.
The island's isolation and postcard panoramas give it a national park-like flavor. Today, the only disappointment here is having to say goodbye to the peaceful island and return to civilization.

-Lynn Arave and Taylor Arave visited Fremont Island on Sept. 25, 2008. Lynn also canoed to the island in June 1982. He obtained permission from the owners to visit.
(Some this material was originally published in the Deseret News in 2008, by Lynn Arave.)

Utah's Lowest/Hottest Place ISN'T St. George!

   The fenceline in the Beaver Dam Wash, marking where Utah ends (right side) and Arizona begins (left side).

                     Lynn Arave stands near where Utah's lowest point likely was in 2006.

        Ravell Call explores the wet (west end) of the Beaver Dam wash, in the State of Arizona.

                  The dirt road in Arizona that leads to the edge of the Beaver Dam Wash.

                     A closeup of where Utah's lowest point likely is, marked by my GPS.

By Lynn Arave

SAINT GEORGE  isn’t the hottest place in Utah, nor is it the lowest elevation place in the Beehive State either.
Having been to Kings Peak, Utah’s highest point 5 times, I decided in June of 2006 to find and document the true lowest elevation spot in Utah (also undoubtedly the hottest spot in the state too.)
Those two superlatives really belong to the Beaver Dam Wash in the extreme southwest corner of the state, at the Utah-Arizona state line. Welcome to Utah's basement, in the Beaver Dam Wash, where an environment exists unlike anywhere else in the Beehive State.
It's the Mojave Desert, where Joshua trees, blackbrush, creosote, yucca and other southern desert plants rule in an ovenlike environment this time of year. Kings Peak is Utah's highest elevation at 13,538 feet above sea level, but at Beaver Dam Wash — 288 air miles away — the elevation dips more than two miles below Kings and is almost 600 feet lower than the city of St. George, located some 23 miles to the northeast.
The majority of sources out there — Internet and books — have Utah's lowest elevation all wrong. Utah's lowest point isn't 2,350 feet above sea level, as is commonly listed by Utah tourist sources.
Nor is it an even 2,000 feet, as some other sources list. Utah's lowest elevation here is "probably" 2,178 feet above sea level. (In contrast, St. George has an average elevation of 2,800 feet and Salt Lake City's Temple Square is 4,327 feet above sea level.) That's according to Mark Milligan, a geologist with the Utah Geological Survey, who found that quadrangle maps show the lowest spot is found in an area bounded by 2,160-foot and 2,180-foot contour lines.
"The border is much closer to the 2,180 contour and thus agrees with an elevation of 2,178 feet," he wrote in an e-mail to the Deseret Morning News. He found that even though the USGS Geographic Names Information also lists Utah's lowest elevation at 2,178 feet, in the same entry it uses the even 2,000-foot number as the state's least elevation, too.
Milligan believes 2,178 is as close an estimate to the low elevation as is possible. Since the Beaver Dam Wash is an area prone to flooding, its elevation can change. "Of course, it is possible erosion may have recently lowered this portion of the wash,"
Milligan reported in his e-mail. "The precipitation that caused the 2005 flooding in St. George presumably caused flooding in the Beaver Dam Wash. "I have not been there recently enough to remember what the bottom of the wash looks like in that area. So I would not even dare an educated guess as to whether to expect much erosion there from such floods." Elaine York, West Desert regional director for the Utah Field Office of the Nature Conservancy, said the 2005 flooding did damage the Lytle Ranch facilities in the Beaver Dam Wash, about six miles north. (The ranch is now owned and operated by Brigham Young University.)
 She suspects the lowest elevation could have dipped slightly from erosion last year. "Beaver Dam Wash is a Mojave Desert eco-region," she said. It's also an area famous for bird-watching, and a portion of the Beaver Dam Wash is under study as a possible wilderness area. 
Mark Eubank, KSL's former chief meteorologist, believes Utah's lowest spot is also usually its hottest most days. "In general, the lower the elevation, the hotter the temperature," Eubank said. "That is why Death Valley is the hottest place in North America — elevation near 200 feet below sea level. "There are no official temperature readings from Beaver Dam Wash, but I feel certain it averages hotter there than in St. George."
Eubank said Mesquite, Nev., to the southwest of Beaver Dam Wash, runs 2 to 5 degrees hotter than St. George most days. Chris Gibson, meteorologist with the Salt Lake Office of the National Weather Service, agrees. "It probably is the hottest place in Utah," he said. Gibson said temperatures generally drop 5.5 degrees Celsius for every 1,000 feet of altitude descended. On a hot, still day, he believes Utah's lowest point would be a couple of degrees warmer than St. George.
Despite the hot temperatures in the Beaver Dam Wash, it isn't totally waterless. York said some perennial springs keep year-round water there, even though at times the water is underground slightly. Utah's lowest point ranks fourth among the 50 states in height. Only Colorado (3,320 feet), Wyoming (3,099) and New Mexico (2,840) have higher "low" spot points. (Montana rates fifth-place with an 1,800-foot low point.) Twenty-one of the states have sea level as their lowest point. There's also increasing interest in "bagging" the lowest points in all 50 states and a Web site for America's Basement,, highlights the possibilities.
• During a June 5 and 6 visit to Utah's lowest point, my GPS initially measured 2,176 in one of the lowest washes, where Utah's lowest point surely is. A few dozen feet away in another small wash eastward, it measured 2,174 feet and fluctuated, dropping to as low as 2,154. (GPS devices do not claim absolute accuracy on elevation measured.)
If you still need a more exact idea of where Utah's lowest point is, it is almost straight north up the Beaver Dam Wash, 15 miles north of Littlefield, Ariz., which I-15 en route to Mesquite/Las Vegas passes through. Two Deseret Morning News colleagues and I found the Beaver Dam Wash to be a much larger region than imagined — with the wash being the lowest point in the area with a width of up to a half-mile at times. We also found a trek here to be no walk in the park. Loose sand and gravel, marshes and thick brush make walking difficult, and the all-terrain vehicle tracks we saw at times may represent the smartest and easiest way to visit.
Temperatures on an unusually warm June 6 here were likely more than 100 degrees at 10 a.m. One thermometer measured 112 degrees! Thus, this is a much more comfortable place to visit in winter, early spring or late fall. Cattle roam the area, and a fairly new and well-maintained barbed-wire fence separates Utah from Arizona — even here — meaning Utah's lowest spot is in the lowest of several dips along the north side of that fence.
• Utah has six corner monuments marking the corners of its borders. The southwest corner monument is almost due west of Utah's lowest point — about 2.5 miles away. However, the topography of a steep hillside on the west slope of the Beaver Dam Wash means making a trip there on the same day is difficult.
• To visit Utah's lowest point, you will need a truck or four-wheel drive vehicle, unless you want to walk an extra six miles along dirt roads in the desert. The road is not suitable for cars because of several dips that exceed a regular car's clearance. To get there, drive to Littlefield, Ariz., on I-15 and take Exit 8; go north on the old highway that leads to Shivwits and back into Utah; go past the Beaver Dam, Ariz., community (elevation 1,860 feet) and cross the Utah-Arizona stateline.
 Then look for a dirt road that heads left (west), 0.8 mile past the state line. Follow this road southwest and then straight south for almost five miles into the Beaver Dam Wash. You will cross two cattle guards and see several "Mormon pioneer trail" signs posted along the way. Ignore any side roads and always head due west. Park near some large overhead power lines in a loose gravel area, near the perennial water of the Beaver Dam Wash. Be sure to carry plenty of drinking water and do not hike in the afternoon on hot days. Starting elevation here is about 2,076. Walk northward, carefully picking your route, about two miles, to a barbed-wire fence you can't miss. Cross the fence and find the lowest point from there.
(The above ground steam water disappears just before the fence line.) Retrace your steps to avoid having to bushwack and knowing the power lines to the south highlight your starting point.
Note that at least one unusually wet year in Southern Utah after 2006, may have already lowered the lowest spot in Utah’s part of the Beaver Dam wash since this report’s 2006 visit.
Lynn Arave, Ravell Call and Ray Boren visited the Beaver Dam Wash and Utah's lowest point on June 5 and 6, 2006.
(Originally presented in a Deseret News article on Sept. 3, 2006, by Lynn Arave.)

South Weber, Hooper changed forever by an ecclesiastical disagreement


        South Weber City, 2013.                Photo by Whitney Arave.

By Lynn Arave

WHY is South Weber located in Davis County, 

when its very name is synonymous with 

neighboring Weber County?

WHY is it that about one-fourth of what some still 

consider Hooper territory, actually not in Weber 

County, but in Davis County?

The answer to both these perplexing identity 

queries relate to a significant county boundary 

change, made almost 160 years ago, back in 1855.

South Weber was indeed originally in Weber County and why it jumped counties is an ecclesiastical tale as much as it was a government decision.
According to Utah historian Glen M. Leonard in the book, "A History of Davis County," an ecclesiastical disagreement resulted in the boundary of Davis County moving about one mile north of where it originally was established.
President Brigham Young visited the South Weber area in October 1853 and declared that a fort should be established there. Kington Fort, named after the area's first bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Thomas *Kington (his name is misspelled "Kingston" in many, many other histories), was then created.
(A listing in the March 8, 1855 Deseret News lists South Weber as being in Weber County, more proof the community switched counties.)
However, soon Kington and Lorin Farr, Weber LDS Stake president in Ogden, had some sort of serious disagreement, though what it was about was never recorded. (Leonard suspects it might have simply been a boundary-related issue.) 
Lee D. Bell, author of “South Weber,” called the dispute "a falling out" in his history book of the community.
And, he believes the fact that the Utah Territorial Legislators intervened in the argument proves how serious a disagreement it must have been.
The book “East of Antelope Island” simply mentions that “there was some difference between President Farr and Bishop Kington, so it (South Weber) was annexed to Davis County by the legislature.”
Territorial legislators in 1855 redefined the Davis-Weber county line, because of prompting from Kington.  (Perhaps he was one of the state’s first lobbyists …) The legislature moved the Davis County line northward. This essentially put Kington’s Ward in Davis County and meant that President Farr no longer had any jurisdiction over the congregation – they were under Davis County’s stake president.
The county line moved south to the Weber River at the east end of Davis County. This meant that the Weber town of Uintah (previously called “East Weber”) was created to define what settlement remained on the north side of the Weber River.
The new Davis County town had also already favored the name “South Weber,” even though it was now in a different county, but at least it was indeed on the south side of the Weber River.

Now, Jump ahead to 1877 and a related boundary change was made. 
(Perhaps someone looked at a map of Davis or Weber County and saw the unusual zag in the county line... created in the 1855 change.)
 This time instead of keeping the twist south in Davis County’s border beyond South Weber, created by the 1855 change, the county line out west was now moved north about a mile to parallel the change made 22 years earlier in the South Weber section. This now made the Davis-Weber boundary line fairly straight from leaving the Weber River until it reached the marshes of the Great Salt Lake.
(Besides a crooked boundary, one other factor in favor of moving more Weber County land into Davis County -- by moving the Davis line northward on its west side -- was that Davis County was clearly still the state's smallest county of all. Legislators in 1877 may have felt the tiny county could use a little more land.)
The most significant effect this related boundary change created was that Hooper, originally known as “Muskrat Springs” and established in 1852, was now split.
This created “South Hooper” on the Davis County side and it was originally huge, going all the way south to today’s 1700 South (Antelope Drive), before the days of a West Point, Clinton and Syracuse. Over the decades as those three cities were established, “South Hooper” shrunk dramatically and only the section of unincorporated Davis County there is today was left. 
The South Hooper name also faded as the rural area only stretched from West Point at about 5000 West and State Road 37 (“Pig Corner”) about a mile north to the county line.
Yet, today some of these rural residents still consider themselves “Hooperites,” even though they reside in a different county.
A “Welcome to Hooper” sign is still posted in a field along Highway 37, deep into Davis County’s “Hooper.” 
Some students on the Davis County side of Hooper still attend Weber County schools.
New delivery drivers are likely baffled and lost by the abrupt address changes when they cross from Weber County Hooper to the Davis County side.
Eventually West Point may annex all of this remaining Davis County Hooper, as it is the only community that could.

Note 1: The South Weber Ward was located south of the Weber River in Davis County, and the ward was for a while tied to the Mormon Davis Stake; but, in 1904, because most of the residents of the area were oriented economically to Weber County, the ward became part of the Weber Stake once again for a time.
SOURCE: Page 167 of “History of Weber County,”
OR on this Web link:

*NOTE 2, More about Kington --  "Thomas Kington came to Utah with the Aaron Johnson Company in 1850, he brought his two daughters and second wife, Margaret Pisel, mt great-great grandmother.  

"Thomas Kington was 56 years old when he came to Utah. We always thrill when reading of the experiences with the United Brethren and Wilford Woodruff. Thomas Kington was the leader of the group that listened to Elder Woodruff at the Benbow farm in England.

"After his work in South Weber, Brigham Young asked him to help in Brigham City. Later, he moved to Wellsville area in Cache Valley. He remained faithful to the work that he embraced when in England.  We're grateful for the heritage he established for our family in the Wellsville area: Our mother was born on a small farm that was located along the Sardine Canyon Road, overlooking Mt. Sterling and Wellsville. She was a granddaughter of Thomas Kington. 

"Thomas Kington died in July 1874; he and several of his family members are buried in the Wellsville Cemetery.

"Our family treasures his faithfulness and steadfastness."

 -From Lynn DeHart of Ogden, Utah, a, Kington descendant.

NOTE 3: A look at Kington's headstone proves with any doubt that KINGTON is the CORRECT spelling of his name.
-It also appears that the misspelling came as the fort that Kington established became infamous because of the "Morrisite War." When a writer or a historian thought "Kington's Fort," that extra "s" seemed to roll off the tongue and hence it easily became spelled incorrectly as "Kingston's Fort."

                              The Hooper sign located deep inside Davis County.

Looking northward along State Highway 37, where Weber County Hooper begins.

                      The view southward on State Highway 37, where Davis County "Hooper" begins.

-Note 4: AND, North Salt Lake City, at the opposite (south) end of Davis County, like South Weber, also seems mis-named. Many are confused by that misleading moniker too ...
A "North Salt Lake" in Davis County? Yes and not to be confused with the north portion of Salt Lake City itself.

(-Portions of the above article were previously published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner, by Lynn Arave, on Nov. 22, 2013.)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Do Mountain Peaks Change?

                                   The rugged backside of Mt. Ogden Peak today.

MOUNTAIN Peaks do change substantially over just a few decades, thanks to man.
This means history-wise, mountain peaks can change more rapidly than some of the natural landmarks in the valley below.
Take Mount Ogden, the tallest peak to the east of Ogden, Utah, at 9,572 feet above sea level.
In 1988, the peak had one small metal plaque and a single, narrow transmitter tower on its summit.
(See the 1988 photo below.)
That was the year when Weber State University's "Flaming W" fall hike to the top of Mount Ogden was revived. (I had pretty good video footage of that event.)
By 2010, 22 years later, there was an array of transmitters installed on the peak, as well as a cement helicopter pad.
You sat on rugged rocks when visiting the peak in the 1980s.
Today, it is cool to rest of a flat cement pad.
Back in 1988, there was no dirt road up the final approach to Mt. Ogden -- you had to scramble all the way up. There was a dirt road to the dip between peaks, to the south, but that's where the road ended.
(Note the newer, color photos below that show the many transmitters and the cement landing pad.)
Certainly some would argue that the many transmitters there now pollute the peak.
However, they comprise cell phone transmitters, emergency transmitters and even Utah Transit Authority repeaters. Without them, outdoor users in the area would probably receive no cell signal.
Also, emergency communications in the valley below would be spotty, making it less safe to help those in medical or emergency need.
Even the name of Mount Ogden has changed over the decades.
Dr. A.B. Condon of Ogden succeeded in getting the name of what had been called Observatory Peak since the 1870s, changed to Mount Ogden Peak in 1920.
--And, in Davis County, to the south, there is even a much more changed peak -- Francis Peak.
Although most maps list Francis Peak as being 9,547 feet above sea level, that was BEFORE the radar domes were constructed on its summit, during 1958-1959.
Built at a cost then of $2 million (more than $16 million in 2012 dollars), the facilities removed 32 feet in height from Francis Peak and forever changed its appearance.
So, you might argue that Francis Peak is only 9,515 feet tall now -- at least the rock portions are.
However, the radar domes add another 115 feet in artificial height and so a satellite GPS would measure the peak's elevation at more like 9,630 feet above sea level.
That's not enough to rival Thurston Peak (9,706 feet above sea level) as the highest peak in the area, though.
What I would love to find someday is a photograph of how Francis Peak looked BEFORE 1958, when it was still in its natural state.

LDS Church Office Building -- 38 Stories Tall?

By Lynn Arave

THE LDS Church Office Building, at 28 stories tall, or 420 feet high, is often considered the second tallest building in Salt Lake City and Utah.
However, did you know that the original plans for that building called for 38 stories, not 28?
Yes, the original, more ambitious plans were for the building to rise 38 stories above North Temple Street, one story for every year that church organizer and president, Joseph Smith, lived.
However, the actual feasibility of the plumbing and heating systems caused for 10 stories to be taken out and the more modest 28 stories to come into reality.
The building was not officially dedicated until 1975, though it was in partial use by 1972.

J. Howard Dunn, who was in charge of project development for the LDS Church's building committee, said in a 1962 Church News article that the plans were changed and eight stories were scrapped to better meet mechanical requirements of the engineering department. Heating and air conditioning for the skyscraper would best be handled in 14-story units, beginning above the first two floors. At that time, the high-rise was to be 30 stories. Later, two more stories were also eventually deleted from that plan.
The building height was reduced for two other reasons as well: First, construction began on the Granite Records Vault in Little Cottonwood Canyon in 1960 and reduced the downtown office building space needed; second, departing missionaries were to be housed elsewhere, again reducing required space.
The original building plans had called for housing space for up to 430 outgoing missionaries in the first few floors of the Church Office Building. As it turned out, missionaries were housed across the street to the north in an old school until the Missionary Training Center opened in Provo in 1978. (Missionaries were fed in the Church Office Building cafeteria in the early 1970s.)
The Church Office Building cost $31.4 million (the equivalent of about $185 million today). The new building led to the substantial widening of North Temple and State streets, too.
"The building is designed for immediate and future needs of the church," Mark B. Garff, chairman of the church building committee, told the Deseret News in 1969.
George Cannon Young designed the building, which was under design as early as 1961. The old Deseret Gymnasium, 37 E. South Temple, had to be relocated across the street to where the LDS Conference Center is now. Some LDS Business College buildings and other structures also had to be moved to make room.
Work on the three-story, underground, 1,400-space parking structure — Utah's largest building excavation at the time — began first in 1962 and was finished by about 1967. The extracted dirt, 250,000 cubic yards, provided fill material for original I-15 construction in Salt Lake County.
When completed, the Church Office Building also allowed the church to temporarily house all General Authorities there while doing a substantial remodel of the Church Administration Building, 47 E. South Temple.

"You'll remember when this (Church Office) Building was first built, this is the floor (the 18th Floor) the First Presidency occupied for several years,"  Bishop H.David Burton, Presiding Bishop of the LDS Church, recalled. "When this building was completed, the Administration Building was then torn apart and restructured as it currently is, and all the church departments formerly packed in that building like sardines were now over here or in other places, and it was time to make that truly the administrative nerve center of the church."
Bishop Burton continued: "My memory is that it was President Kimball's administration that occupied these three offices that the Presiding Bishopric now occupies, just as they were built 35 years ago. For the better part of two years, this was the home of the First Presidency."
Constructed prior to today's more stringent seismic codes, there's occasional debate of how the building would fare during a major earthquake.
"Building codes have changed some, and if we were to build this building again today, we'd build it probably the same way but probably with a little more stringent standards,"Bishop Burton said. "It's good, it's served well, it's been a great asset to the church in every way. It has been a marvelous addition to church headquarters."
The building also remains a top Utah tourist attraction, with thousands each year who enjoy the commanding, bird's-eye view from the 26th floor observation deck — some 400 feet high.
"Enjoy a magnificent view of the Wasatch mountain range on the east, the Oquirrh range to the west, and the state Capitol building (patterned after the nation's Capitol) to the north," reads a section on places to visit at "A view from this observation deck is a great way to become oriented on your visit to Salt Lake City."
(A portion of this blog was taken from an April 1, 2010 Deseret News story, co-written by Lynn Arave, with Scott Taylor.)
The accompanying photograph shows the view from the Triad Center, looking east and the LDS Church Office Building is on the left side.
-For a source on this 38-story tall plan,
go to:

-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at: