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:  

1 comment:

  1. Oh yeah, there are very few locations named after a first name. The scenery on top of Lewis Peak must be priceless.
    -Aki Suomela