Thursday, May 9, 2013

The 'Weber" name leaves plenty to wonder about ...

Weber County, as seen from Mt. Ogden, with Taylor Arave sitting on copter pad.

By Lynn Arave

A county's name is, naturally, the first element in any identification. The sources of the names for most of Utah's 29 counties are clear cut, ranging from descriptions of the regions or their inhabitants to memorials to specific individuals.
However, the origins of a few are in a bit of dispute, and one - "Weber" - is extremely obscure. 
Only in recent decades has new evidence seemed to clarify the story behind the county's name. Weber County school students have over the years learned next to nothing about the background for the county's name, with history lessons jumping quickly ahead to tales about trappers and traders like Peter Skene Ogden and Miles Goodyear.
Where did Weber County's name originate? Consider these theories:

- The book "Utah Place Names" indicates the name probably came from John W. Weber, a trapper killed by Indians near today's Weber River in 1823.
- The Weber River and Weber County could have been named for another trapper, Pauline Weaver, who became a frontiersman in Arizona, according to "Weber County . . . Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow." The name Weaver was corrupted to Weber. The book also refers to the story of John Weber, indicating he was killed by Indians near the river in the winter of 1828-29.

                          The Weber County sign in Weber Canyon.

- Some have suggested the name came from a member of Peter Skene Ogden's trapping party. However, Weber is a not a French-Canadian name. So, it may be Capt. John G. Weber of Danish nativity who is the namesake. He is said to have died in 1859 in Bellevue, Ill., according to an undated historical sketch of Weber County.
- John H. Weber was in the Ogden area from 1822-27 and discovered the Great Salt Lake, Weber Canyon and the Weber River, summarizes the book "Beneath Ben Lomond's Peak."
- Weber County, says "A History of Ogden," was named for Capt. John B. Weber, who was with trappers in the area until 1827. He died in Iowa in 1859.
- Several other books, such as "Utah: A Guide to the State" and "Ogden: Junction City," simply state the river and county were named for "Capt. Weber." John G. is listed in the first of those books; John H. is named in the second.
So what's the most plausible story behind the name?
The late William W. Terry, an Ogden historian now in his 90s, spent many years sorting out the facts. He came up with this:
John H. Weber (note the middle initial) was born in Altona, near Hamburg, then a part of Denmark. He joined the William Henry Ashley trapping party in 1822. Weber was described as a large man, with a nose like a Roman emperor and eyes like an eagle. But he was also said to be very moody, as well as brash.
The Ashley party eventually split in two, and Weber led one group, with Jim Bridger also belonging to it for a while.
In the fall of 1824, Weber, then 44 and much older than most mountain men, likely discovered Bear Lake. In the winter of 1824 he took his group along what is today's Weber River to the Great Salt Lake, reaching it almost six months before Peter Skene Ogden.
Bridger had discovered the Great Salt Lake the preceding summer, and Weber and his party trapped on the Weber and Ogden rivers for about six months.
The trappers called the larger river the Weber, in honor of their leader. When Ogden arrived on the scene, the river was already known as the Weber (or some times "Weaver" river.)
Weber went east in 1827. Although he had earned $20,000 trapping - a small fortune in that day - dishonest partners apparently swindled him out of his money. He died in 1857 at age 78. Weber is buried in the Bellevue, Iowa, cemetery. Terry visited the community and found Weber's grave to prove Indians didn't kill him at the river named in his honor.
Terry also discovered that some of the men in the Ashley-Henry trapping group were the ones who misspelled the name Weber as "Weaver." Hence some of the confusion over the name.
Today Weber is a prominent name in the area, with Weber State University making it nationally known - though it is often incorrectly pronounced "Webber" outside of Utah.
-- HERE are the stories behind the names of Utah's 28 other counties:
Beaver County: Recognizes the plentiful beaver in the area.Box Elder: Box Elder trees east of Brigham City apparently lent their name.
Cache County: First called Willow Valley by a trapper. Also referred to as Logan's Hole in memory of Ephraim Logan, who was killed near Jackson, Wyo., by Indians in the mid-1820s. The Cache name is said to have been applied after a trapper, employed by the Rocky Mountain Fur Co., was killed during a cave-in while excavating for stashed furs (caches).
Carbon County: Named for coal deposits in the area.
Daggett County: Ellsworth Daggett is the source of the county's name. The first Utah surveyor general, he surveyed an irrigation canal in the county.
Davis County: Named for Daniel C. Davis, a captain in the Mormon Batalion, who died in 1850.
Duchesne County: The source of the name is uncertain. The word supposedly came from the Duchesne River, but before 1875 the river was known as the Uinta River. So, there are six other possibilities: 1. Du Chasne, possibly an 1830s French trapper in the area; 2. an early Indian chief in the region; 3. Rose Du Chesne, founder of the Society of the Sacred Heart in America; 4. Fort Duquesne, built by the French in 1754 in what became Pittsburgh, Penn.; 5. the Ute Indian word,"doo-shane," meaning dark canyon; 6. Andre Duchense, French geographer and historian.
Emery County: Named for George W. Emery of Tennessee, who was appointed governor of Utah Territory in 1875. (Some residents wanted to name it Castle County.)
Garfield County: Received its name in 1892 in honor of U.S. President James A. Garfield, who was assassinated in 1881.
Grand County: Established in 1890 and named for the Grand or Grande River, now the upper Colorado River in the area. It was in 1921 that the name "Colorado" was extended upriver beyond the confluence with the Green.
Iron County: Originally called Little Salt Lake Valley County, the name was later changed to Iron County as a reminder of the iron mines west of Cedar City, which was the Mormon Iron Mission.
Juab County: The name comes from what Indians called the valley, apparently meaning level plain or flat. Another variation of the word is said to mean thirsty valley.
Kane County: Named for Col. Thomas L. Kane, friend of the Mormon settlers.
Piute County: Recognizes the Piute, or Paiute, Indians who inhabited the region.
Millard County: Honors U.S. President Millard Fillmore.
Morgan County: Jedediah Morgan Grant, father of LDS President Heber J. Grant, is the source of the name.
Rich County: Originally created as Richland County, the name was later shortened to Rich. The name came from Charles C. Rich, an early Mormon apostle and prominent settler in the Bear Lake region.
Salt Lake County: Named for the nearby Great Salt Lake.
San Juan County: There's a slight dispute on this county's name origin. Most credit it to the San Juan River, in turn named for one of two early Spanish explorers in the area. Both Don Juan de Onate and Don Juan Maria de Rivera are credited as sources for the river's name.
Sanpete County: The name is a variation of San Pitch, who was a Ute Indian chief who lived in the area.
Sevier County: Named for the Sevier River. The name is a variation of Rio Severo, a Spanish word meaning severe and violent. The river also had other names, such as the Ashley River. Some incorrectly believe the county was named for Brigadier Gen. John Sevier of Kentucky.
Summit County: This name came from the county's high country. Summit encompasses 39 of the state's tallest named peaks - the most of any county in Utah. (Second is Duchesne, with 28, but Duchesne also has Kings Peak, the state's tallest at 13,528 feet above sea level.)
Tooele County: Spelled "Tuilla" at first and later changed. The origin is a subject of dispute. Some believe it came from a Goshute Indian chief named Tuilla. Others say the word refers to the rushes and weeds so common in swampy areas of the valley.
Uintah County: Named for the Ute Indian tribe that lives in the basin. Early maps put an "H" on the end of the word. John Wesley Powell left the H off in his writings, and as a result both variations are in use.
Utah County: Apparently Anglicized from "Yuta," which is what the Spanish explorers called the Ute Indians. The name probably means meat eaters.
Wasatch County: A Ute Indian word meaning "mountain pass" or "low place in a high mountain." This Ute word was a general reference to Weber Canyon, the lowest cut in the Wasatch Mountains.
Washington County: Named in honor of George Washington, the first U.S. president.
Wayne County: Supposedly named for Wayne Robinson, son of state legislator Willis E. Robinson. A counterclaim for the name's origin indicates it honors Revolutionary War Gen. Anthony Wayne.

(-Distilled from an article by Lynn Arave, Jan. 5, 1996, in the Deseret News.)

Utah -- A pretty crooked state -- Boundary-wise!

By Lynn Arave

UTAH has been called a "pretty, great state." Surprisingly it's a "pretty crooked state," too. And we're not talking crime, but the state's deceptively tidy shape.
Minus the distinctive notch in its northeast corner, Utah is commonly thought of as a perfect rectangle. However, those fourth-grade Utah history students are drawing it all wrong with straight lines.In fact, if the borders had been drawn straight - as intended - some Idaho border towns, like Franklin, might straddle the state line. At least one other community, Strevell - now a ghost town - would definitely have been in Utah.
Also, the state would be somewhat larger, maybe several hundred acres bigger, because of land that ended up in Idaho, Colorado or Wyoming.
Utah's true borders contain at least seven crooked spots that are considered "pretty" crooked by mapmaking standards, though perhaps only "slightly" irregular by public perceptions.
These irregularities vary from as small as a quarter of a mile off the true mark to almost a mile in error.
Looking closely at the official Utah State Highway Map, two of the irregularities can be spotted. On the small statewide map on the cover of the Utah Atlas & Gazetteer, a third crooked spot can be seen.
With the Gazetteer's detailed topographical maps, three more crooked locations can be readily seen. The seventh error stands out most on the Bureau of Land Management's overall state map.
Three of the irregularities involve a meandering line, while three others look like notches and the seventh resembles a hump. (See story above.)
                                         Four Corners monument.

Were these six crooked spots meant to be there?
"They're survey errors that were made when the state boundaries were laid out," said Gary Nebeker, chief of operations for the Salt Lake office of the U.S. Geological Survey Center.
The Salt Lake office of the Bureau of Land Management is the caretaker of the original survey documents made on the Utah state line boundaries. It agrees on the cause for the crooked lines.
"It was primarily survey errors," said Daniel W. Webb, chief cadastral surveyor for the BLM in Salt Lake City.
He said surveyors in the late 1800s had crude instruments and pulled 66-foot-long chains for measurements.
A colleague of Webb, Dave Cook, is a cartographer with almost 40 years of map experience with the BLM and the National Weather Service.
After several hours of examining the original, 100-plus-year-old diaries of the different federal surveyors, he could find no apparent reasons for their mistakes.
Cook speculated that surveyors were paid by the mile, so they were in a hurry. If they made a mistake - even if they knew it - they weren't likely to go back and redo it.
Survey crews traveled in parties of one to two dozen men and suffered harsh conditions on Utah's rugged borders in the 1870s and 1880s. Rocks and wooden posts were the common markers left by survey parties. They theoretically put markers every mile along state boundaries, though obviously some are missing more than a century later.
Cook said the sad thing is that we live with these mistakes. Longtime federal laws make states rely on existing survey monuments for borders, whether they are in the right place or not.

"Monuments prevail," he stressed.
Those laws have been challenged by various courts over the years and have always been upheld.
Even with exact location technology available with orbiting satellites, no federal entity has the time or money to correct such errors, according to Webb.
At best, small adjustments may be made as specific landownership issues are raised.
Since Utah's borders are crooked, so are those in the adjoining states of Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado. Cook believes many other states probably have similar boundary problems. For example, the same surveyor who made at least three mistakes across the Utah-Idaho border also kept going west to the Pacific Ocean.
Checking detailed Oregon maps, he made at least four similar mistakes along its southern border with California.
(-Distilled from an article by Lynn Arave, July 26, 1998, in the Deseret News.)

-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:  

At least 17 lakes misidentified in the High Uintas

  Mirror Lake, High Uintas, is named correctly, but many other lakes are not.

MAPS are one of the last places you'd expect to find misspellings and inaccuracies. However these source materials aren't always as precise as you hope them to be. Case in point - at least a dozen lakes on the west side of the High Uintas are identified incorrectly on most maps, according to two former summer residents of the area.
John "Jack" Clegg, of Provo and his sister, Patricia C. Christiansen-Burke of Heber City, would both like to set the record straight and get these lakes listed accurately on maps - especially before the origin of some of the names might fade away.
"I think they should be looked at," Clegg said of the map errors.
Clegg's father, "Cardie" spent 56 years working for a union of all irrigation companies having reservoirs on the upper Provo River watershed.
Cardie named at least 17 of the area's lakes himself. Growing up, John Clegg and his sister, Pat, spent many summers working with his father, near Trial Lake.
"Places needed names and there weren't any," Clegg said of the Trial Lake area when his father began working there. "He had no plans to enshrine his friends or relatives (in the naming process)."
Clegg said names were critically needed to help people get around the area and that his father did his best at creating some of those titles.
He said most errors in lake names crept in during the map transcribing process.
                     There are hundreds of lakes in the High Uintas.
One of the most unusual of misspellings is the prominent Blizzard Lake, just south of Bald Mountain Pass. Although it does seem appropriate for a snowstorm name in a high-altitude land where white moisture can fall from the sky in almost any month of the year, blizzard is not accurate for the lake's name.
Clegg said it was originally named Blazzard Lake, after a pioneer family in Kamas that still owns a lumber yard there. Map errors have repeated themselves over the years.
Traipsing around with Clegg and his sister in the Trial Lake area of the Uintas provided a firsthand account at the inaccuracy of some lake names.
Visiting officially named Azure and Rock lakes shows why the names should be reversed.
Located less that 100 yards from each other, the eastern lake - Azure - is actually the one with rocks all around it and even a few large boulders cropping up in the water. Rock Lake to the west, meanwhile, has grasses growing all around it and is partially surrounded by pine trees.
Clegg said this misnamed Rock Lake is the true Azure Lake because of the poignant sky-blue color it assumes under a clear sky.
A visit to so-called Hourglass Lake also proves it is inaccurately named. Circling the lake, there's no hourglass shape visible. However, a spectacle (eyeglasses) shape does exist and that was its original name - Spectacle Lake.
             Mirror Lake, as seen from near the top of Bald Mountain's summit.

Still another wrong name involves Adax Lake, located three miles north of Long Mountain. Sometime at least after 1964, maps started spelling the name from its original Adix form. It was named for Vern Adix, son-in-law of Cardie Clegg, who planted the first fish in the lake.
Yet another misspelling comes with Rhoads Lake. It was originally called Rhodes Lakes, after Ollie L. Rhodes, a friend of Cardie Clegg and poet who featured the Uintas in his writings.
One lake name change that's actually been good is Fire Lake, located west of Trial Lake. Clegg said it was originally "North Fork No. 5." Somehow Five was twisted to Fire.
"That's OK," Clegg said. "That adds a little charm. But it leaves `No. 1 Junior' to the north of `No. 5' with no meaning."
Besides some lakes having wrong names, different maps - Forest Service, U.S. Geological, etc. - don't always use the same title for lakes in the high Uintas. But that's another story.
--Additional Information
The misidentified:
Wrong Name/Original Name
Adax Lake Adix Lake
Azure Lake Rock Lake
Beaver Lake Duck Lake
Blizzard Lake Blazzard Lake
Duck Lake N. Fork No. 6 Lake
Fire Lake North Fork No. 5
Petit Lake Petite Lake
Rhoads Lake Rhodes Lake
Rock Lake Azure Lake
Twin Lakes Lower Twin Lake
Twin Lakes Upper Twin Lake

(-All photographs by Roger Arave.)
(-Distilled from an article by Lynn Arave in the Deseret News, Oct. 27, 1997.)

-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:  

The name's the same -- only the places have changed in Utah's outdoors

  Don't ever get lost in "Dry Canyon" in Utah ....

  The Narrows is a common Utah place name. This is the Virgin River Narrows in Zion National Park. There are 24 different "Narrows" in the Beehive State.

IF you ever get lost in the Utah outdoors, let's hope it's not in Dry Canyon. 
That's because there are at least 46 canyons in the Beehive State sharing that name, and searchers could conceivably find it a little confusing to know which one you're actually in.
(Utah is certainly a "dry" state ... But still, you would think history could be a little more unique on place names sometimes ...)
There are five different Dry Canyons in Tooele County alone, and four each in Duchesne and Kane counties. There are also Dry Canyons found east of Laketown; east of Logan; east of Paradise; northeast of Brigham City, by the North Ogden Divide; in Ogden Canyon; east of the town of Uintah; in Morgan County; east of Alpine; east of Pleasant Grove and near Mount Nebo. Only five of Utah's 29 counties lack a Dry Canyon, including Daggett, San Juan, Summit, Washington and Wayne. 
Utah is the second-driest of all states, which helps explain why there are so many canyons named for their waterless natures. "Dry" is one the most popular geographical titles in the state, period - counting creeks, forks, hollows, lakes and washes - with some 250 names using the term.

                        Little Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake County
Cottonwood is the second-most common canyon name, with 40 different versions. There are four Cottonwood Canyons each in Grand and San Juan counties. Third-place in popularity is Pole Canyon with 38, including four versions in Utah County.
There are 30 Rock Canyons, 30 Spring Canyons, 29 Trail Canyons, 29 Water Canyons, 26 Bear Canyons, 22 Long Canyons and 20 Horse Canyons, to round out the top 10 most common names.
Big, Black, Box Elder, Broad, Bull, Coal, Corral, Cow, Coyote, Deep, Fish, Flat, Maple, Mill, Pine, Red and Sawmill are all names applied to 10 or more canyons.
In a state the size of Utah, you would expect some name duplication in different counties or sections. However, some of the repetition seems to defy explanation.
For example, there are six different Bear Canyons in Carbon County alone. The close proximity of same-named canyons is also remarkable. There's a Bear Canyon on the east side of Mount Nebo, running northeast-southwest between the Bear Canyon Campground/Salt Creek Road and the Mount Nebo Scenic Byway. Barely three miles away as the bird flies and on the west side of Nebo is yet another (and non-connecting) Bear Canyon above the town of Mona that runs east-west. How two Bear Canyons could end up so close together is not clear today, but it's unlikely any renaming will take place at this stage in local history.

             Cold Water Canyon in North Ogden. There's also one in Ogden Canyon.

Still another example of this phenomenon is found in Weber County. There's a Cold Water Canyon east of North Ogden that is infamous for producing mud slides, while yet another Cold Water Canyon is less than four miles away in Ogden Canyon. There's also a Cottonwood Canyon southwest of Laketown in Rich County, and not too many miles away is another connecting with Logan Canyon.
Canyons are not the only feature subject to duplication, either.
If you're leaving to explore "The Narrows," you'd better indicate whether it's in Zion National Park or wherever - there are at least two dozen different "The Narrows" in Utah.
   The Bald Mountain actual summit, north of and above  the Mirror Lake Highway. There are at least 11 Bald Mountains in Utah and several are found in the High Uintas.

There are also 16 different Black Mountains to hike in the state, along with 15 Twin Peaks (three in Salt Lake County), 14 Little Mountains and 11 Bald Mountains.
Deseret Peak is another common name, with three versions - the kingpin's in Tooele County (at 11,031-feet above sea level), but there is also a 6,984-foot Deseret Peak west of Lakeside and yet another (7,510 elevation) northwest of Echo Canyon.
Other popular geographical names include 50 Mud Springs, 40 Willow Springs, 26 Rock Springs, 26 Cottonwood Springs and 21 Cold Springs.
For valleys, the Little Valley name is tops with 29 versions, while Birch Creek leads its category with 32. There are also 26 Willow Creeks and 24 Cottonwood Creeks.
There are 25 Spring Hollows in Utah, 28 Dry Forks and more Left-Hand This and Right-Hand That features than anyone would care to count.
                        Bear Lake, straddling the Utah-Idaho line.

Lakes also suffer from name duplication. There are 15 Dry Lakes, 15 Blue Lakes, 13 Mud Lakes, seven different Big Lakes and four different Bear Lakes in Utah. Even in the High Uintas, there are at least two of the following name repeats for: Wall Lake, Island Lake, Lilly Lake and Lost Lake.
Mollies Nipple isn't as common a name as some believe. There are only five in the state, including two in Utah County. (It's probably just that this is the type of unusual name you don't tend to forget.)
--Place names abound in duplicate, triplicate and more in Utah, but some mighty unusual monikers can also be spotted on maps in Utah. Among them:
Accident Canyon, Convulsion Canyon, Baboon Seep, Blubber Creek, Skull Crack Canyon, Girl Hollow, Hang Dog Creek, Horsethief Canyon, No Man's Mountain, No Man's Canyon, Weed Basin, Keg Spring, Beer Bottle Spring, Brew Canyon, Ether Peak, Shoofly Hill, The Peak, Sunday Canyon, Ant Peak, Dead Ox Peak, Deadman Gulch, Pets Spring and Bellyache Canyon.
There's also a First, Second and East "Hamongog," and there are Becky Jimmie, Scott and Bill's basins - all in close proximity.
Hell Canyon in Morgan County is not an unusual name in itself, but it connects directly with Paradise Canyon!
And, if you'd like an impossible peak to climb, try Impossible Peak, topping out at 7,767 feet above sea level in Garfield County, northeast of Boulder.
(-Distilled from an article by Lynn Arave, published in the Deseret News, Aug. 13, 1995.)

-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, May 7, 2013

Salt Lake's Majestic Landmarks of the Wasatch Mountains

THE most striking geographical features in Salt Lake County are the Wasatch Mountains on the east side of the valley.
Rising sharply 7,000 feet above the valley floor, the Wasatch Mountains create natural landmarks in Salt Lake County. (The Oquirrh Mountains dominate the west side of the valley.)

We take these mountains for granted, and while we may enjoy their inspiring, majestic beauty, their place as natural directional landmarks may not be appreciated until we visit a region that is flat.

(See the photos below for the peak/canyon names of S.L. mountains.)

"When I drive through Kansas or Nebraska, I wonder how people know where they're going" Dale J. Green, a past president of the Wasatch Mountain Club, said.
Green started hiking the Wasatch Mountains in 1953 and believes he may have hiked almost every trail in Salt Lake County. He said his favorite peak is the "Pfeifferhorn," not visible from most of the Salt Lake Valley but located between American Fork Twin Peaks and Lone Peak on the south side of Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Charles L. Keller is another longtime Salt Lake hiker who is wrote a book on the Wasatch Mountains, "The Lady in the Ore Bucket."
"They're my church," Keller said of the Wasatch Mountains. "I've spent the last 40 years trampling over them."
He especially loves Little and Big Cottonwood canyons and Mill Creek Canyon. His favorite hike is up Kessler Peak.
"It's steep, and there's no easy way up," he said.
Keller agrees it is too easy for Salt Lakers to take these mountains for granted.
These mountains are home to many animals, offer year-round recreational activities and are important watersheds — a critical factor each year.
The Wasatch Mountains are also the reason we have substantial water in the Salt Lake area.
"They're the main source of water for Salt Lake," said Brian McInerney, a hydrologist with the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service.
Without the mountains, the storms would just keep moving by without raining or snowing here, and there would be neither the snowpack to fill the reservoirs nor the recharging of groundwater supplies.
McInerney said mountains substantially change how air circulates in the area.
Perhaps the most dramatic view of Salt Lake's segment of the Wasatch Mountains can be enjoyed from near the north end of Beck Street. Here, the peaks all seem compacted together, rising sharply above the city's downtown skyline.
What's the tallest peak in Salt Lake County? How many names of the peak do you know? Where did the peak names originate?
The Twin Peaks (11,489 and 11,433 feet above sea level) are the tallest summits in Salt Lake County, but where are they located? Could you point out Mount Olympus, Farnsworth, Lone Peak or Wire Mountain? You probably know where Little and Big Cottonwood canyons, Mill Creek and Parleys canyons are, yet could you pinpoint Bells, Ferguson or Heughs canyons?
One of the most surprising things about the names of Salt Lake County mountain peaks is the repetition of Twin Peaks. There are no less than three sets of Twin Peaks in the Salt Lake section of the Wasatch Mountains listed on maps. Don't get lost or in trouble on one of these peaks, because who will know which one you're on? (You would think a name like "Double Peaks" or "Dual Peaks" would have been used instead of Twin Peaks three times.)
The "Broads Fork" Twin Peaks are perhaps the most 

noticeable of the three Twins in Salt Lake County. They also 

contain the Twin Peaks Wilderness Area and are located 

more near the center of the Salt Lake Valley than the other 


(-Distilled from an article in the Deseret News, by Lynn Arave, on Aug. 2, 2001.)


PEAKS, from north to south --- below

                                      Photographs by Scott Winterton

-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:  

Does Utah mirror the Holy Land?

                                       The Great Salt Lake

By Lynn Arave
THERE  is "a striking comparison" between 19th century Utah and the Holy Land in the Near East, according to a Texas college professor.
Dr. Richard V. Francaviglia, professor of history and geography, the University of Texas at Arlington, said that even Utah's settlers in the 1800s saw similarities between the two regions, based on maps and memories.
"The Latter-day Saints are modern day Israelites," he said during a presentation on Sept. 24, 2004 at the 52nd annual meeting of the Utah State Historical Society in the Salt Lake City Library.
For Francaviglia, it was an intriguing 1896 map showing the Great Salt Lake area and an upside-down Dead Sea region side-by-side that highlighted this striking comparison best. He also said many mapmakers of the day were also aware of similarities.
He noted similarities in hydrology, names and geographic 


                            There is a "Zions Bank" in Salt Lake too.
• Both the Great Salt Lake and Dead Sea are salty bodies of water so laden with salt that bathers can usually float like a cork.
• The GSL and Dead Sea are both fed by fresh waters from "Jordan" rivers — the River Jordan from the Sea of Galilee in the Near East and the Jordan River coming out of Utah Lake here.
• Both Jerusalem and Salt Lake City are situated similarly along the shores of their salty seas. Francaviglia said a French Catholic Priest who visited the Territory of Deseret in the 1850s wrote that the GSL reminded him of the Dead Sea.
• Not only was America believed by many to be a promised land, but Mormons also thought of Deseret as their divine land. He said Mormons had visited the Holy Land as early as 1841, six years before coming west.
                  The triple summits of Utah's Mount Nebo                          photo by Ravell Call

• The two regions are bordered by mountains and a desert. Mountains are symbols of revelation and uplift, while deserts represent wilderness challenges. Mount Nebo is somewhat like the Golan Heights, he said.
• Some place names in Utah not only represent the Book of Mormon (Nephi, Manti, Bountiful, etc.) but also the Bible (Mount Nebo, Moab, etc.)
Francaviglia stressed that not everything is alike. For example, Utah's elevations are much more abrupt and higher, ranging from 4,500 feet above sea level to 11,300, as compared to the Holy Land's 1,200 feet below sea level to 3,000 feet.
However, for Deseret, the Wasatch Mountains were viewed as a barrier than could help protect the church members from their enemies, as well as from corruption.
Also, Salt Lake City was laid out in a rectangular orderly fashion, while Jerusalem relied on a very irregular and disorderly kind of street layout,
"Early Mormons were so pro-Israel in the 19th century," 

Francaviglia said, noting the Mormons may have pioneered 

some of this favor to Israel that is much more widespread by 

American churches today.

There is also a "Zions Bank" in Salt Lake City too.

-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: