Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ben Lomond -- The Mountain of Dreams

      Ben Lomond Peak: Ogden area's most majestic mountain,        Photo by Liz Hafen

                                          Ben Lomond Peak, the "Mountain of Dreams."

                                Ben Lomond, as viewed from the center of Ogden.

By Lynn Arave

Ben Lomond Peak, at 9,712-feet above sea level, doesn’t even rank among the 250 tallest named mountain summits in Utah.
Ironically Ben Lomond isn't even the tallest summit in Weber County – nearby Willard Peak is 52 feet higher.
However, it may still be the State’s most famous mountain.
William Wadsworth Hodkinson started some theaters in Ogden and later Paramount Pictures Corporation. He designed the famous mountain logo for the company a full century ago, back in 1914.
He grew up in Ogden and from his home, a majestic mountain -- Ben Lomond Peak -- dominated the northern skyline, rising a vertical mile above the valley floor.
Although two history books written on Paramount, "Paramount Pictures and the People Who Made Them" (1980) and "Mountain of Dreams: The Golden Years of Paramount " (1976) do not  directly identify the mountain by name, that inspired the logo, here's what Leslie Halliwell, who wrote the “Dreams” book, stated:
"The mountain he (Hodkinson) doodled on the back of an envelope was a memory of childhood in his home state of Utah."
So, Ben Lomond was surely his inspiration. (And, the logo has been modified/exaggerated over the decades. Isn’t that what Hollywood excels at: exaggeration?)
There are some conflicting tales out there to challenge the Ben Lomond claim, but note that Ben Lomond only “inspired” his mountain logo – the mountain logo is, or never was actually Ben Lomond, or any other real mountain – it’s fiction.  (Though these days, some views of the Pfeifferhorn Peak (“Little Matterhorn)” located in the Lone Peak Wilderness area, south of Little Cottonwood Canyon, resembles the modern Paramount logo more than anything else.)
According to Audrey Godfrey, a Logan historian, who grew up in Weber County (and who also writes commentary for the Standard-Examiner), 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.
(Climb to the summit and look down, if you doubt such inspiration.)
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.
An Aug. 27, 1922 Standard headline was: ‘“Over the Top” of Ben Lomond Trip of Thrills.”’
This story called the peak by two nicknames: “Old Baldy” and “Old Ben.”
The left-hand fork of Willard Canyon was the hiking route this time.
Strangely, the story said a highlight of the hike was “the wild chickens are so thick they almost kick one’s hat off, flying over head.”
Fifteen Boy Scouts of Ogden’s Troop No. 20 hiked Ben Lomond, as reported in the Standard of Aug. 13, 1923. They hiked from North Ogden Pass and noted the flowers appearing around the peak. The boys “returned the short way down the face of the mountain.”
Finally, an Aug. 11, 1927 Standard story told of a climb to the peak by the Wasatch Mountain Club. Ben Lomond was said then to be 9,100 feet above sea level, offering remarkable views as far north as Preston, Id.

 (-Originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on June 6, 2014.)

  Ben Lomond Peak, from the west, on the trail from Willard Peak.

                The metal marker atop Ben Lomond Peak.

              Liz Arave Hafen balances atop the B.L. Peak marker.

                Taylor Arave atop Ben Lomond Peak.

OTHER SOURCES: "A History Weber County," by Richard C. Roberts and Richard W. Sadler.


  1. I just stumbled on this blog today and wanted to add that Mary Wilson Montgomery is my great-great-great grandmother and I, too, was told that she named the mountain Ben Lomond after the peak in Scotland. She was born in Scotland, came to the states and was one of the first settlers of North Ogden. She and her family were part of the Warren Foote Company that arrived in Utah in 1850.

  2. Thanks for this awesome blog! Jeannette Greenwell, who grew up in North Ogden, used to tell how her grandfather mined on the back of Ben Lomond and would go up the face with his animals and equipment. When he got to the top, he would light a fire so that his family knew he was safe. He built a cabin on the peak at first, but this had to be moved, piece by piece, to another location because the wind was so bad.