Friday, December 20, 2013

The first Christmas celebration in Utah?

Weber County's first Christmas observer also traveled up Weber Canyon and then from Peterson to "Ogden's Hole" in an expedition that began New Year's Day. He may have been near today's Trappers Loop Highway.                                                                                      Photo by Whitney Arave.

Who was the first white person (or persons) to celebrate Christmas in Weber County, if not all of Utah?
Was it:
A.  Miles Goodyear, in Ogden, 1845.
B.   Mormon settler James Brown and company, in Ogden, in 1847.
C.   John C. Fremont and/or Kit Carson in 1843.
D.  None of the above.
If you answered “D,” you would be correct.
Surprisingly, it was a mountain man and trapper, Osborne Russell, who celebrated the holiday, Dec. 25, first in Weber County in 1840.
Russell (1814-1892) was most famous as a political leader who later helped form the government of the State of Oregon.
  He kept a detailed journal of his nine years (1834-1843) in the Rocky Mountains and his account is a fascinating read, which predates John C. Fremont and Kit Carson’s visit in 1843 by almost 3 years.
He outlines his Christmas holiday as taking place near where the “Weaver” River (Weber River) empties into the Great Salt Lake. By that description, he most likely would have been in today's Hooper (or perhaps West Haven) for the holiday season.
 Russell spent the holidays in an Indian lodge, in the company of a French Man, his Native America wife and their child. In nearby accommodations were other Indians and children.
It was agreed on by the party to prepare a Christmas dinner …” Russell wrote in his journal.
He noted that his understanding of French and Indian language was helpful, as only three others knew English and that was a pretty sketchy proficiency.
At about 1 p.m., the group sat down to Christmas dinner, “in the lodge where I staid which was the most spacious being about 36 ft. in circumference at the base with a fire built in the center …” Russell wrote.
What did they eat?
   “The first dish that came on was a large tin pan 18 inches in diameter rounding full of Stewed Elk meat,” Russell wrote of the 1840 holiday feast.
The group had found a large group of elk, out west, by the lake, wintering in the thickets of wood and brush by the river.
“The next dish was similar to the first heaped up with boiled Deer meat (or as the whites would call it Venison a term not used in the Mountains),” Russell continued.
“ The 3d and 4th dishes were equal in size to the first containing a boiled flour pudding prepared with dried fruit accompanied by 4 quarts of sauce made of the juice of sour berries and sugar Then came the cakes followed by about six gallons of strong coffee already sweetened with tin cups and pans to drink out of large chips or pieces of Bark Supplying the places of plates,” Russell wrote in his journal.
He also explained that eating did not commence until the word was given by the landlady. Then, conversation was expected of all.
“The principal topic which was discussed was the political affairs of the Rocky Mountains The state of governments among the different tribes …” Russell wrote.
What about after dinner?
“Dinner being over the tobacco pipes were filled and lighted while the Squaws and children cleared away the remains of the feast to one side of the lodge where they held a Sociable tite a tite over the fragments. After the pipes were extinguished all agreed to have a frolic shooting at a mark which occupied the remainder of the day,” Russell ended his holiday account.
 He remained where he was until Jan. 1, 1841, at which time all the streams were iced over. So, he moved eastward.
 Russell wrote that he then followed the Weber River eastward and then when it forked, it went right into Weber Canyon.
“The route was very difficult and in many places difficult travelling over high points of rocks and around huge precipices on a trail just wide enough for a single horse to walk in …” Russell write of Weber Canyon.
 He likely camped in the Peterson area, where the snow was some 5 inches deep. It snowed another 8 inches that night. The next morning, he went north over rolling hills into Ogden’s Hole (today’s Ogden Valley), where the snow was 15 inches deep. He spotted a herd of 100 elk and shot one for food.
The next day, he returned to where he had spent Christmas and remained there for the rest of January.
There is much more to Russell’s early account of the Ogden area, including descriptions of Fremont and Antelope islands.

(Special thanks to Terry Bennett of Layton for suggesting this first Christmas holiday account).

Note: Russell’s journal accounts were left as they were written, abbreviations and grammar notwithstanding.
Also, the offensive word of today -- "squaw" -- was also not changed, but left as it was written ... for historical accuracy's sake and nothing else intended.

(-Written by Lynn Arave and originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on Dec. 20, 2013.)

-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:  

Friday, November 29, 2013

The unheralded Lewis Peak: Ogden’s friendliest mountain?

               Lewis Peak, northeast of Five Points.                                           Photo by Whitney Arave

By Lynn Arave

CALLING someone by their first name usually denotes familiarity. By that reckoning, Lewis Peak, an often unrecognized summit, located northeast of Ogden’s Five Points, ought to be the friendliest mountain in Weber County.
It’s a rare mountain you can be on a “first name” basis with.
Lewis Peak, 8,031 feet above sea level, was named for Lewis Warren Shurtliff, who was among the first known group of white settlers to scale the summit of the most prominent mountain, between the much more well-known Mount Ogden and Ben Lomond Peaks.
Shurtliff, then 16, of Weber County, climbed what would be known as Lewis Peak on June 6, 1852, with Ira N. Tiffany and Martin Harris. The three young men often hiked in the area to scout and help protect the settlers from unfriendly Indians. The three men also made a pole to mark the peak and placed some sort on flag atop it.
As the youngest of the three, the peak was named “Lewis,” in his honor, though it is very unusual for a geographical feature to be titled after a person’s first name. In fact, Lewis Peak is only one of a few Ogden Wasatch Front mountain peaks that is even named after a specific person.
Shurtliff’s “name” is also affixed to two other Weber County places. Strangely, his middle name, Warren, is who the communities of Warren and West Warren were named after. Makes you wonder more about who this unusual man was, who so inspired other pioneer residents to commemorate him using the first two of the three parts to his name.

                                               Lewis W. Shurtliff
Among his many accomplishments, Shurtliff eventually served as the Weber LDS Church Stake President; as a probate judge; as a Weber County Commissioner; as a state senator; as chairman of the Utah Irrigation Commission; and also helped start Ogden’s first trolley system – initially powered by mules.  
In addition, as the Weber Stake President, Shurtliff also helped organize the beginnings of Weber State University (originally named Weber Stake Academy) on Sept. 10, 1888.
Technically, Shurtliff was the University's first president.
(Today, a Lewis W. Shurtliff scholarship award is presented yearly to a qualifying Weber State University student.)
He died in 1922 at the age of 86.
(One his daughters, Louie Emily Shurtliff, was Joseph Fielding Smith’s first wife. She died in 1908, but he later became president of the LDS Church.)
Lewis Peak was officially designated as such on maps by 1912. Six employees of the Ogden Post Office hiked to Lewis Peak in June of 1912, according to a report in the Ogden Standard-Examiner. 

                          Lewis Peak, left side of picture.        Photo by Whitney Arave

Utilizing directions provided by Lewis Shurtliff himself (also the Ogden Postmaster from 1910-1914), they located the original pole, although only torn ribbons of the flag were left.
The Standard-Examiner also reported that in September of 1916, relatives of Shurtliff placed a metal flag pole and a copper plate with an inscription on the summit of Lewis Peak. They returned two years later and replaced the old flag with a new one, according to a later report in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
Although Lewis Peak isn’t even one of the 30 highest summits in Weber County, it is located further westward than many other peaks in that area, is very rounded and thus has more prominence than just its height provides. There are at least four other unnamed peaks in the immediate area, taller than Lewis, with the highest being 8,136 feet, but the others are set back further to the east and thus not as prominent.
Lewis Shurtliff and company made their own bushwhacked trail to the summit in 1852, including a likely trip through the rugged canyons below. Today, a standard hiking path leads to the summit. Starting at the top of North Ogden Divide (elevation 6,184), this version of the Skyline trail goes up and southward 3.3 miles to a trail junction. The western path goes another 1.5 miles to Lewis Peak, a broad mound of rock. The U.S. Forest Service created the spur trail to Lewis Peak back in 1978.

Access to the area is also offered by a northern section of the Skyline Trail that begins from the southeast, near Pineview Reservoir, or by more rugged hikes up canyons to the west.
The view atop Lewis Peak is superb, since it juts out so far into the valley. Visible to the west are Coldwater, One Horse and Garner canyons en route to Lewis Peak. Just south of Lewis Peak is Jumpoff Canyon.
Because of its lower elevation, a hike to Lewis Peak is often accessible in May, far sooner than Ben Lomond Peak, which looms some 1,700 feet higher.
-Originally published by Lynn Arave in the Ogden Standard-Examiner, Nov. 29, 2013.

SOURCES: Ogden Standard Examiner, June 17, 1912; “Utah Place Names,” by John W. Van Cott;

-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:  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Southern Utah's Titanic Mountains: The Tushar Range

                                                                                                         Photos by Liz Arave Hafen

By Lynn Arave

They're by far the tallest mountain range in southwestern Utah, rising more than 12,000 feet above sea level. However, the Tushar Mountains remain relatively unknown.

''Under-appreciated and relatively uncrowded'' is how tourist officials describe these scenic, recreational gems, which are located east of Beaver -- about 210 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Some 30 miles long and up to 20 miles wide, the Tushars are part of the Fishlake National Forest.
Many Utah residents speed by to the west on I-15, and although the rugged shaped Belknap Peak may catch their eye briefly, most have no idea what mountain range they're looking at.
The light-colored Tushars are named after a Paiute Indian word, ''T-shar,'' meaning white. The range is believed to have been formed by intense volcanic activity below the ground that thrust upward some 5 million to 30 million years ago.
Access to the Tushars is easy. U-153, a scenic byway, is paved 19 miles up Beaver Canyon to Elk Meadows ski resort (elevation 10,000 feet). A dirt and gravel road continues another 21 miles to the east -- with some long and steep stretches. It connects with U.S. 89 at the town of Junction.
Another access road, although not paved, is Forest Service Road No. 126, out of Marysvale on the east side of the Tushars. It goes up Bullion Canyon about seven miles. More rugged roads and scenic backways also access the north side of the Tushars from I-70 and go to the old Kimberly mining area.
Kingpin of the Tushars is Delano Peak, 12,173 feet above sea level, a rounded summit that doesn't appear to be the tallest when looking at the range from I-15. As the highest peak in both Beaver and Piute counties, Delano is the 41st tallest named peak in Utah and the seventh highest outside the Uintas. The peak was named for Columbus Delano, U.S. secretary of the Interior in the 1870s.
Hiking to Delano Peak is a moderately strenuous, 13-mile round-trip trek that will require an average of six to seven hours. Since access roads go high into the mountains, it's just a 2,173-foot climb to the peak, probably making it the state's most easily accessed over-12,000-feet mountain. Regular hiking season is July to September.
The Wasatch Mountain Club ranks the Delano hike at a 7.7 in difficulty. In comparison, Ensign Peak holds a 1.5 rating, Bald Mountain in the Uintas is rated 3.3, Timpanogos Peak is rated 11, and Lone Peak in Salt Lake County is rated 14.8.
For pure scenic and pristine value, though, some hikers -- like Salt Lake's Winford ''Dub'' Bludworth -- prefer the Tushar's second-highest peak, the much more dramatic-looking Mount Belknap (it's 12,137 feet above sea level).
There are also some spectacular ATV trails through the Tushars. That's what attracted Bryan Burrell of Riverton to the area. He has a cabin on the east side of the mountains.
''This is a premier place for ATVs,'' he said. ''No one's disappointed who goes up there.''
Mountain bikers have also recently discovered the area, and intermediate to expert rides are available on the Kimberly road, the Big John Flat, the Puffer Lake Loop and the Skyline Trail.
Burrell is especially fond of the volcanic history of the area and also of Bullion Falls, an 80-foot water drop, named for the Bullion gold mine and town, where some 5,000 people once lived. There are also lots of colorful names in the Tushar Mountains: Horse Heaven, Grizzly Ridge, Robbers Roost, and Bellyache Canyon to name a few.
With a history of mining operations, mostly for gold and starting in 1888, names like Prospect, Gold Mountain, Grasshopper Mine, Deer Trail Mine, Glidder Mine, Sunday Mine and Copper Belt Peak also dot the mountainside of the Tushars.
There are six U.S. Forest Service recreation areas in the Tushars: Little Cottonwood, Ponderosa, Mahogany Cove, Kent's Lake, City Creek and Anderson-Meadow. There are also a few small bodies of water in the Tushars -- Puffer Lake, Kent's Lake, Blue Lake, LaBaron Lake and Willow Lake, plus a Boy Scout Camp.
Big Rock Candy Mountain, along U.S. 89, is a part of the northeast section of the Tushars.
Not without legends, talk of the Tushari, a mysterious, ancient Indian tribe was supposed to have inhabited the region. Also, Gorilla Ridge on the west slope of the Tushars and near Mount Baldy, was titled after a mine of the same name, and is believed by some to have Sasquatch sighting connections.
(-Written by Lynn Arave and originally published in the Deseret News.)
                                  The Tushar Mountains as seen from I-15 to the west.

-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:  

Fingers of the Kolob: Often Overlooked View

By Lynn Arave

NEW HARMONY, Washington County, Utah — What a huge difference 0.4 of a mile can make.
Many Utahns have probably driven the five-mile Kolob Canyons scenic drive , just east of I-15, in a section of Zion National Park at exit No. 40. That's a signed turnoff and well-publicized.
However, did you know that a less than half-a-mile drive off I-15 west at exit No. 42 yields an incredible, but less often heralded view of "The Five Fingers of the Kolob" —also part of the Kolobs Canyon section of Zion National Park?
In the New Harmony area, west of I-15 are amazing views of the Kolob, not visible from the freeway, since it is too far east.
"One of the main attractions of New Harmony, and something it's famous for, is the Kolob Canyon Scenic Drive," states Juli Danis, a realtor in Southern Utah, on her Web site,
"If you drive into the town of New Harmony, and turn around and look towards the mountains on the east, you can see the magnificent view of the Kolob Fingers, truly one of the most magnificent sites you'll ever see. This is a well kept secret, as traveling down the I-15 freeway, they are not visible to the routine traveler," she continued.
There are some power lines that can get in the way of a photograph, but for any traveler headed to St. George, Las Vegas, or California, it is worth it to at least once take 5-10 minutes and exit the freeway west at exit No. 42 to see the Fingers of the Kolob and know what is there above you that you CANNOT see from the freeway.

(The two photos show the Fingers of the Kolob, from just west of I-15 at Exit No. 42. Photos by Elizabeth Arave Hafen.)

-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:  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hottest Day Ever in Salt Lake? 107.1 degrees on July 13, 2002

  Salt Lake City's hottest  air temperature ever recorded was 107.1 degrees on Saturday, July 13, 2002.

The previous time it came close to being this sizzling

was 106.6 degrees on July 26, 1960.

 "Mercury climbs to 107 to smash all records" was a Deseret 

News deadline back then.

"Hot, hotter, hottest" was the headline when that record was 

broken in 2002.

Despite that single day heat record, the summer of 2013 was 

the hottest overall on record. There were not a lot of 100 


According to the Salt Lake Office of the National Weather 

Service, the summer of 2013 had the most number of days -

-54 -- with a high temperature of 95 degrees F or more.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Day the Sky Fell in Salt Lake City: April 5, 1876

       Arsenal Hill, site of the huge 1876 explosion, was located where today's DUP Museum stands.

By Lynn Arave

It was the LDS Church General Conference that started off with a bang.
 On April 5, 1876, 4:48 p.m., the powder magazines at Arsenal Hill (west of where today's state Capitol stands), exploded with a fury of 40 tons of gunpowder that Deseret News reports compared with the devil himself.
A trio of explosions rocked the city the afternoon before the semiannual four-day conference started. The Arsenal, the only building then on Salt Lake City's northwest bench, was leveled."Terrible disaster. Terrific explosion of forty tons of Giant, Hercules, blasting and other powder. Four persons killed instantly and others injured. Great damage to property" was the following day's headline in the Deseret News.
The raining debris covered a two-mile radius. The explosions were felt in shaking buildings as far north as Kaysville. Four different gunpowder magazines exploded, creating four separate bombs of debris.
Some people shouted "A volcano!" Others "An earthquake!" as an immense mass of flame shot heavenward. One reporter described the calamity as the former with "a column of smoke and debris as grand as Vesuvius ever belched forth."
Hundreds of people were lying on the ground, women and children screamed and many men turned pale, according to Deseret News reports. Some ran toward the explosion, others away. Many animals bolted away from wagons, frightened by the loud noise.
Two young men, identified as Frank Hill, 18, and Charles Richardson, 18, were near the building at the time of explosion. They had been tending cattle on the hill earlier in the day and were known to have been shooting a rifle at birds. They were killed instantly by the explosion. The men were suspected of causing the explosion when a burning paperwad from their shotgun ignited some loose gunpowder.
No specific blame for the explosion was ever laid, but a jury requested additional precautions for any other explosives kept in the city.
Vandals had previously shot through the Arsenal's main iron doors with guns for used for sport and target practice. The Arsenal building was made of rock, with a tin roof, but a thicker iron door was added after repeated vandalism.
Also killed were Mary Jane Van Natta, struck by a rock on the head as she was pumping water outside. James Raddon Jr., 5, died when he was struck in the chest by a rock while playing outside. Another woman was said to have died from fright after the explosion.
Broken glass created the biggest problem, with virtually all Main Street businesses and several nearby LDS meetinghouses hardly having an unbroken window left. The walls of the 20th Ward schoolhouse were badly damaged. There were no reports of damage to the Salt Lake Temple, under construction at the time, but it was likely only in the first story stage.
Several merchants were charged with selling glass at twice the usual price in the days after the explosion.
A large boulder went through the mayor's roof and two floors of his new home. A flying rock also took away part of the ear of a son of D.P. Kimball.
Several residents reported moving babies or children from rooms that were soon thereafter heavily hit by raining debris. Several dozen boys playing baseball to the west of the armory were knocked to the ground twice by the explosions and found shelter to avoid the biggest shower of debris.
President Brigham Young's flour mill, a half-mile away up City Creek, was destroyed, as were the covers for the city waterworks and the adjacent building near City Creek. One of President Young's daughters, siting near a window on South Temple, also suffered a head wound from shattering glass.
One Civil War veteran said after the explosion he saw less damage in Fredericksburg after a month of cannon bombardment there.
"The Prince of the Power of the Air had a roisterly time on Wednesday afternoon . . . Not many of our citizens, previously, had any realizing idea of the immense reserve force stored up in a few grains of charcoal, and nitre and sulphur . . . The explosion has been the main topic of conversation in the city ever since and will be more or less for future days to come. Years in the future, the time of it will be referenced to as an era, whence and with which the happenings of other events will be calculated and compared," the Deseret News reported two days after the explosion.
Other newspapers made the disaster sound even worse. For example, one other newspaper headline read: "Nearly every house in Salt Lake more or less wrecked." Other stories also spoke of 200-pound boulders, although the largest confirmed boulder of debris to hit downtown was 115 pounds - a rock that struck the Theatre Saloon on 100 South.
Still, the Deseret News reported every building within a 1.5- to 2-mile radius of the explosion sustained some sort of damage. But apparently no general conference talks made reference to the disaster, or at least nothing was recorded by conference reporters.
The Arsenal building was reduced to craters. It was privately owned by the DuPont Co. and had cost $26,000 to build. According to some sources, the Arsenal was at the top of Main Street, about two blocks north of Temple Square and approximately where today's Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Building stands at 300 N. Main. However, photographs taken in the Arsenal area after the explosion make it look more likely the building was at about 200 N. Main. The arsenal was never rebuilt.
The area surrounding Arsenal Hill in the 1860s and 1870s consisted of bare, open fields. The Arsenal Hill area was vacant, probably because not until the late 1880s was a year-round water supply secured for the area.
This, of course, was long before the area came to be known as Capitol Hill. The entire plateau between Ensign Peak and Temple Square was originally called Prospect Hill. Then, when the Arsenal was placed there - probably in the early 1860s - it became Arsenal Hill.

Not until Feb. 28, 1888, did Elder Heber J. Grant propose that the Salt Lake City municipality donate 20 acres of the former Arsenal Hill property for a future Utah State Capitol site. The actual donation took place on March 1. The Capitol building was slow in coming and wasn't started until 1913 and completed in 1915.
(-Written by Lynn Arave and originally published in the Deseret News, April 2, 1995.)
                                      The modern Salt Lake City.

-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:  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Watkins Dam ("Willard Bay") – Reclaiming fresh, from eventual salt water

                     Willard Bay, as seen from Willard Peak.                              Photo by Liz Arave Hafen

By Lynn Arave

WOULD you like to go fishing, or boating at northern Utah’s Watkins Dam?
Where’s that? What?
Sometimes, popular usage over time can supersede official titles …
We’re talking Willard Bay here, but its original name was Arthur V. Watkins Dam or Watkins Bay.
The nearby town of Willard and/or Willard Peak soon became the water reservoir’s official  namesake, by popular reference.
(In fact, one of the few places you will find the Watkins name used today is on the Bureau of Reclamation's official Web site.)
Willard Bay, residing 11 miles northwest of Ogden and adjacent to the Great Salt Lake, is often taken for granted. But this artificial treasure has a history worth examining.
However, it is surprising how little of it is in the history books, or accessible via Google.
Thanks to some additional information supplied by the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, here’s the scoop on “Willard Bay” …
This water project was authorized by an act of Congress on August 29, 1949. It was U.S. Senator Arthur V. Watkins (R-Utah) who worked to create funding for this project.
It became a 14.5-mile-long, rough rectangle shaped dike structure which impounds surplus fresh water from reaching the Great Salt Lake. Some 17 million cubic yards of material were used to create the dam.

 The earthen dike material used in the project is highly compressible. So in order to allow maximum time for settlement, the dam was constructed in three stages over a period of more than 7 years.  The dam was built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and completed in 1964.  Essentially a dike was created. The salt water was drained out and fresh water was then stored inside.
In 1990, a fourth stage of construction entailed restoring the dike crest to its original 4,235 feet above sea level (about 36 feet high), following even more additional, yet anticipated settlement of the foundation.
Surplus water from the Weber River and its tributaries, which cannot be controlled by mountain reservoirs, as well as winter releases through Gateway and Wanship Powerplants and other private utilities, normally would flow into the Great Salt Lake.  This surplus water is diverted from the Weber River at the Slaterville Diversion Dam, located west of Ogden, and carried north 8 miles by the Willard Canal into Willard Bay Reservoir. To meet project needs, water can be returned in the summer from Willard Bay Reservoir to the Weber River and into the Layton Pumping Plant intake channel, as needed, for irrigation of lands lying along the shores of the Great Salt Lake.
About 5 miles north along the diversion canal, a turnout can also divert water into the Plain City Canal, a privately owned irrigation system.

Water can also be released to the Harold Crane Wildlife Management Area and to Great Salt Lake Minerals through a siphon outlet at the southwest corner of the Willard Bay dike. 
Willard Bay Reservoir is the lowest reservoir of the Weber River system. It averages 19 feet in depth and as much as 36 feet.
Willard Bay can hold a maximum of 215,120 acre feet of water (almost twice that of Pineview). Among the Bureau of Reclamation’s 25 dams in Utah, only Flaming Gorge and Jordanelle reservoirs can hold more water.
Operation and Maintenance of the dam was turned over to the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District in 1968.
Creating Willard Bay meant the loss of some farmland dating back to the pioneer era. Unlike most area settlements, Willard (originally known as “Willow Creek”) had most of its farmland on its fringes, rather than its interior.
 Notwithstanding, Willard Bay’s creation eventually led to a multiplication of much more new farmland in northern Utah, thanks to the additional water available.
Principal agriculture products that are sustained, or aided, by its irrigation water are: fruit, vegetables, potatoes, alfalfa, grains and livestock.
 Willard Bay State Park came along in 1966. The Utah Division of Parks and Recreation maintains facilities at the site.for picnicking. Willard Bay Reservoir is used for camping, picnicking, swimming, boating, water skiing, and fishing for Wipers, Walleye, Channel Catfish, Black Crappie, Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill, Common Carp, Largemouth Bass, and Yellow Perch.
The view of the rocky spires on the mountainside above Willard Bay is also simply incredible too.
Willard Bay is at its most stunning, though, from the view atop Willard Peak. Its blueness contrasts sharply with the surrounding briny waters of the Great Salt Lake.
Over the decades, there have been considerations to dike off other areas of the east side of the Great Salt Lake and divert surplus water into similar fresh water reservoirs. No others have ever happened, so Willard Bay remains Utah’s lone Great Salt Lake side reservoir.
And, funding for a feasibility study to see if Willard Bay itself could be expanded even more, recently failed to gain approval.

(-Originally published by Lynn Arave in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on May 16, 2014.)

-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:  

When Straight Roads Aren't Straight in Utah

            The north end of 4500 West in West Point: notice the jag after the intersection.

By Lynn Arave

Have you ever wondered why some roads don't line up?
When is a straight road not a straight road?
When it’s 4500 West Street (also State Road 110) in West Point, Utah.
Anyone who’s traveled this north-south corridor in northwestern Davis County knows it has a large bend in it on its south end, to the west, near 700 South and the Syracuse border.
They may also know it does not line up directly with a continuing segment of 4500 West in the northern edge of West Point, that travels north of 1800 North (State Road 37) into Hooper City. To continue further northward on 4500 West, a jag to the west of about 150 feet is required.

        At the south end of 4500 West Street is this bend that realigns it back to normal.

However, it is also clear that the extreme south and north ends of 4500 West line up, if they could be connected. It is only that long, middle segment, about three miles long, that is out of alignment and likely closer to being 4400 West.
How did this important corridor end up being mismatched?
“It has been that way since pioneer times, way back 100-plus years ago,” Max B. Elliott, Davis County Surveyor, said. “It is the road by usage,” he said of the section that’s out of alignment.
He speculated that some homesteads were in the way of having a straight road and over time that simply became the legal right of way as there was likely too much property to displace.
“There are other roads like that,” Elliott said of 4500 West, though it is the one most visible in its misalignment.
Howard Stoddard, 86, former West Point Mayor, said he didn’t know why the road was crooked.
“It has been that way all of my life,” he said.
Val Hinze, who has lived on 4500 West for more than 35 years, said while he has been keenly aware of the misalignment of part of the road, he too has never heard any cause mentioned.
Today, 4500 West is the most western north-south corridor in Davis County. Lacking any traffic signals or stop signs, it also remains the lone, free-flowing road on Davis County’s west side.
Although the exact cause of the crooked road can’t be identified, a further look at a history of that road and adjoining highways, contains some interesting information.
The 4500 West Street was first designated as a state road, U-195, in 1935, connecting U-37 with U-108 (today’s Antelope Drive).
Back in 1935, U-37 (1800 North or the “Clinton Road”) ended at 4500 West. It wasn’t until 1945 that the road officially looped into Hooper and past “Pig Corner” at its bend.
And, before Hill Air Force Base was established, 1800 North (U-37) used to go all the way east, up and over a sandy hill into Weber Canyon. So, it is more than a coincidence that this road lines up with the mouth of the canyon.
Elliott said the lack of direct access to Weber Canyon would have been cut off by Hill Field in the early 1940s.
The 4500 West Street was dropped as a state route for a time starting in 1947, but when it became a state thoroughfare again, it was renamed U-110, being 3.5 miles long, and at an elevation of 4,230 feet.
U-107, or 300 North Street, was improved and officially designated as a state road in 1931, and offered eastern access off 4500 West.

(-Originally written by Lynn Arave and published in the Syracuse Islander, March 13, 2013.)

Spanning Salt Lake's History: Eagle Gate

By Lynn Arave

MANY Salt Lake City motorists drive under a historic monument every day, likely without giving much thought to it.
Eagle Gate, which is at State Street and South Temple, has changed many times during its 146 years of existence.
As the entrance to Brigham Young's estate at the mouth of City Creek Canyon, it is located near where the pioneers homesteaded that first summer in 1847.
Consistent with his New England heritage, President Young fenced and gated the land for privacy and also for protection from City Creek flooding. It was designed by architect Truman O. Angell and Hiram B. Clawson.
The original eagle was carved by Ralph Ramsey and William Spring from five laminated wooden blocks and used an actual eagle that had been found in City Creek Canyon as its model. The monument weighed 500 pounds, had 16-foot-wide outstretched wings and rested upon curved wooden arches that used 9-foot-high cobblestone bases as their anchor. The eagle sat on a beehive and a star mount.

Large wooden gates closed the 22-foot-wide opening of the original Eagle Gate at night. Young had the Beehive House, Lion House, private offices, a flower garden, school, barns, sheds, greeneries, orchards and vegetable gardens in his yard. For many years, the gate not only marked the entrance to Young's property but also to City Creek Canyon, as the highway was then the canyon toll road, not State Street.
Fourteen years after Young's death in 1891, the gates were removed and the street was widened to two lanes. Soon after, electric streetcars began traveling the area and a greater height was needed to accommodate the overhead wires.
The eagle was then sent back East to be covered with a layer of copper, and new supports resting on stone pillars were added. The gate was also widened in a new design by architect J. Don Carlos Young.

It was remodeled another three times during the next 60 years and eventually became just wide enough for four lanes of traffic, but there was no extra room.
On April 18, 1960, a truck severely damaged Eagle Gate. The eagle and beehive were removed later that day. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owned them, eventually gave the eagle and beehive to the Daughters of Utah Pioneers because the wooden portions had deteriorated and could not be remounted again. They are in the DUP museum today at 300 N. Main.
In succeeding weeks all the gate structure was removed. A time capsule dating to 1891 was found in one of the bases of the old support columns. For more than three years, there was no Eagle Gate at State Street and South Temple.
Architect George Cannon Young, a descendant of Brigham Young, began to design a new frame to support a new Eagle Gate. Artist Grant R. Fairbanks made a replica of the original bird out of bronze, though this one was larger, with a 20-foot wingspan and 10-foot-long body, and weighed about 4,000 pounds. The stone fence near the Lion House was moved 20 feet west to make room for a larger five-lane span.

State highway funds financed the project, but the LDS Church granted the state millions of dollars in rights of way for the project. By November of 1963, Eagle Gate — the one we enjoy today — was back.
"The Eagle Gate is famed throughout the world as an example of pioneer art and culture," C. Taylor Burton, director of Utah's Highway Department, said in 1963. "Millions of tourists each year visit Temple Square, the Beehive House, the Eagle Gate and other pioneer works in this area."
A large bronze plaque at the northeast corner of Main and South Temple says Eagle Gate has come to represent both Brigham Young and the pioneer spirit.
Today the gate has a 74-foot span.
However, even today's wider arch isn't immune to some traffic problems. A vehicle in mid-August 2005 bumped the arch's monument base, located between arches on the east side of State Street. This concrete structure was pushed off to the side, nearer the sidewalk.

(-Originally written by Lynn Arave and published in t he Deseret News, Nov. 24, 2006.)

-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:  

Mormon Battalion gold 'bought' much of the Ogden area

      Ogden, as viewed through all the microwave apparatus, atop Mount Ogden Peak.

By Lynn Arave

IS the Ogden, Utah area worth $1,950, or about 103 ounces of 


Dutch colonists are often said to have purchased all of Manhattan 

Island, New York in 1626 from the local Indians for trinkets and 

cloth, worth only about 1.5 pounds of silver, or perhaps just $24.

Jump forward in time from that event, some 221 years, to the Utah 

Territory, in 1847, to a somewhat similar event in history.

Today's Ogden was the only place in the territory already settled 

by whites when the Mormon Pioneers arrived in July of 1847.

Mountain man Miles Goodyear and his family had built a fort (today's Fort Buenaventura) and cabins in what is present-day West Ogden in 1845-46, before the Mormon pioneers arrived.
James Brown, a Captain in the Mormon Battalion, under the direction of Brigham Young, used Mexican or Spanish gold coins, worth about $1,950 -- earned from service in the Mormon Battalion -- to purchase much of today's Ogden area.

                                         Captain James Brown

That price included: a fort, about 210 square miles, 75 cattle, 75 goats, 12 sheep, six horses (and a "$10 cat," according to some sources) from Goodyear on November, 24, 1847.
(Where Goodyear got that many cattle is another story ...)
Based on prices per Troy ounce of gold for that era (at least in the weight of gold), that purchase price might have equaled about 8 1/2 pounds (103 ounces) of gold paid by the Mormon Pioneers.
In today's current gold values, what the pioneers paid in gold could now be worth almost $136,500. (In today's dollar values, that $1,950 is only worth about $47,500, though).
This gold was Brown's own money, not only earned for his service in the Mormon Battalion, but also from some of his business enterprises in California. 
(Despite "owning" all of the Ogden area land, Brown never charged any settler for homesteading land there.)

             The historic Miles Goodyear cabin today, at 2104 Lincoln Avenue, Ogden.

Goodyear's deed (claimed with an alleged grant from the Mexican government) described the boundaries as:
"Commencing at the mouth of Weber Canyon and following the base of the mountains north to the hot springs; thence west to the Salt Lake; thence south along the shore to a point opposite Weber Canyon; thence east to the beginning."
By that geography lesson, the purchase likely stretched from Weber Canyon to Ogden Canyon (today's 12th Street) and to the Great Salt Lake in between.
(There is a hot springs near the Box Elder-Weber County line, but that’s northwest and so the purchase boundaries were more likely referring to the hot springs at the mouth of Ogden Canyon.)

    Much of the Ogden area as viewed from Ben Lomond Peak.        Photo by Liz Arave Hafen.

 So, the area included not just most of today's Ogden City, but also some of West Weber and West Warren, all of West Haven, Hooper, Roy, South Ogden, Riverdale, Washington Terrace and Uintah.
Also included would have been some of Davis County -- parts of South Weber, Sunset, Clinton, West Point and Hill Air Force Base.
Of course Goodyear almost certainly had no true deed to the property, or even a land grant from Mexico.
"So far as the land was concerned he had sold Captain Brown a wooden nutmeg!" is how the book "Beneath Ben Lomond's Peak" summarized the land transaction.
Goodyear was seemingly more than a capable mountain man, he was apparently a shrewd salesman and entrepreneur too.
This was the only such land purchase made anywhere by the Mormon Pioneers -- call it a payment for privacy.
As Goodyear moved out and took his family to Benicia, Calif., only some scattered Native Americans were left in the area. Goodyear’s  former home first became known as Brown's Fort, or Brown's Settlement. Soon "Brownsville" took hold as the name and held for several years.
The city was named for Peter Skene Ogden on Feb. 6, 1851, when it was incorporated.
Peter Skene Ogden was the brigade leader of the Hudson Bay Fur Company, who were in the Ogden Valley in the 1830s(but ironically who never set foot on the front side of the Wasatch Mountains into today's Ogden City.
(Can you imagine if Brownsville had become the name of today's Ogden?)
By 1860, Ogden had a population of 1,463 people, but was primarily a farming community.
Ogden really took off in 1869, with the establishment of the transcontinental railroad. Soon, Ogden became "Junction City," near where the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads met.
Eventually, the equivalent of today's chamber of commerce adopted the motto: "you can't get anywhere without coming to Ogden!"
That was true as all passengers and shipments by train in the Mountain West went through Ogden.
Weber County today boasts more than 237,000 residents and the portions of Davis County in the Goodyear purchase have many thousands more. So, the $1,950 "purchase," more than 165 years ago -- legally necessary or not -- certainly appears to have been a great investment of sorts.

SOURCES:;, "Beneath Ben Lomond Peak" book, by Daughters of Utah Pioneers; "The Utah Story" book, by Milton R. Hunter; "Weber County is Worth Knowing," by William W. Terry.

--Originally published by Lynn Arave in the Ogden Standard Examiner on Dec. 6, 2013.

-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: