Friday, February 28, 2014

Morgan County names: From Chinatown to Hardscrabble

Morgan County names: From Chinatown to Hardscrabble

Morgan County is home to many historic place names.
Here’s a sampling of them:

Chinatown:  This small section of colorful red rock, similar to Cedar Breaks in Southern Utah, is located northeast of Croydon. It was titled after the Chinese pagoda shapes of some of its unusual rock formations.


Como Springs: Dr. T.S. Wadsworth named the place after Lake Como, Italy, where Mrs. Samuel Francis, an early settler, was born.
Croydon: Its original name was Lost Creek. It may have been renamed in 1866 after a town in England, the homeland of some early settlers in the area.
East Canyon: Mormon Pioneers named it as such in 1847. However, originally it was called Bauchmins Creek, after a local trapper.
Dead Ox Canyon/Peak: Both names originate from oxen dying in the area, either due to snowstorms or starvation.
Hardscrabble Canyon: The canyon supplied lumber for many railroad ties in the area, but it was a hard canyon to get in and out of – a “scrabble” to access. Its original moniker was Mill Creek.
Lost Creek and Lost Creek Reservoir: The creek was originally called Plumbar Creek for an early trapper. However, it was also sometimes called “Plumber Creek,” since it disappears from sight underground occasionally along its course. That angle also gave rise to its “lost” nature, though there is also a tale of two pioneers in 1855, who were lost during a snowstorm in that area.
Morgan: It was strangely named “Monday Town Hollow” at first. The name came from the fact that most settlers moved in on a Monday. But, residents later titled it after the middle name of LDS Church leader Jedediah Morgan Grant (father of eventual LDS Church President Heber J. Grant).
Mountain Green: Named as such in 1859 by settler George Higley for the area’s beautiful meadows, valleys and hills. However, “Deserter Point” was its original moniker, as in May of 1825, a dispute over territory and pay meant that 23 trappers from Peter Skene Ogden’s group deserted and went over to the rival Johnson Gardner trapping party.
Peterson: It was first settled in 1855 as Weber City, being along the Weber River. The name was later changed to Peterson, in honor of early settler, Charles S. Peterson.
Porterville: Titled in honor of all the Porter families who settled there in its early days.

                Modern day Trappers Loop road.                                       Photo by Whitney Arave

Stoddard:  The community was given its title after Judson L. Stoddard settled there in 1860. However, “RumpusTown” was later its temporary nickname after numerous disputes over water rights and usage. Rumors state that farmers needed three essentials during their water turns in the area: hips boots, shovel and sidearm.
Trapper’s Loop Road: Named after the route Indians, trappers and early settlers used to traverse between Morgan Valley and Ogden Valley. However, today’s highway is westward and much higher in elevation than the original path, that clung to lower dips and valleys.

Sources: “Utah Place Names,” by John W. Van Cott and “A History of Morgan County,” by Linda H. Smith.
(-Originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner, Feb. 28, 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:  

Friday, February 21, 2014

When Weber County threatened to carve up Davis County …

 “Davis County’s rough roads” was a July 27, 1911 headline in the Standard-Examiner.
The increasing use of the automobile was demanding smoother, better roads. The article said that Ogden and Salt Lake were taking good care of their highways, but that Davis County’s routes were almost impassible.
“If Davis County continues to remain indifferent to the demands of better roads and the necessity for a good highway between Ogden and Salt Lake, the county (should) be divided by annexation to Weber and Salt Lake counties,” was the outcry of some key Weber County residents.
The article also claimed that Davis County’s main highway to Salt Lake was “rougher than a newly made road through a growth of heavy sagebrush.”
A few years after that proposal to do away with Davis County entirely was made, a variation also came out:  That Salt Lake County would take a strip of Davis County that was two miles wide. According to a May 18, 1914 Standard article, this meant that the county line would move northward to the southern boundary of Bountiful City.
“There are only about thirty voters and property owners in this section and it is said a majority of these have signed the petition,” the Standard story stated. In that era, St. Joseph’s Road House, was about the only thing of note in the area.
(North Salt Lake City was not created until 1946. If this had been accepted, it would have meant that North Salt Lake City, if it still would have been created, would have actually been in Salt Lake County, as its name seems to convey.)
Strangely, the northern part of Davis County had an even more significant proposal for it. The same petition asked that Clinton, South Hooper and South Weber all be given to Weber County, to create a large and uniform Hooper area in a single county.
None of these proposals ever happened and it is likely a good thing, as Davis County was already, by far, the smallest county of Utah’s 29 counties.
--Here are a few other random, but intriguing snippets from Northern Utah history in the early 20th Century:
-“Day-dreaming Salt Lakers” was an April 9, 1901 Standard-Examiner headline. Residents of Salt Lake were still trying to induce the Southern Pacific Railroad to move the proposed Lucin Railroad Cutoff to their territory, in the south end of the Great Salt Lake.  All this, despite the engineering and plans already made for the Lucin route. (Of course the route never changed.)
-Besides problems with speeders in automobiles in the early 20th Century, there were other challenges too. “Autos without the state number are stopped” was a July 19, 1915 headline in the Standard.
The story stated that W. Adams from Layton rode his motorcycle up Ogden Canyon the day prior and he was arrested, because the machine was not registered. He received a $5 fine. Others with unregistered vehicles were also fined.

-“Farmer digs up Indian skulls” was a Feb. 17, 1912 headline in the Standard. John Byington of Hooper caused considerable excitement while plowing his field and finding four Indian skeletons. Rumors of murder abounded, but authorities believed them to be Indians, buried there at least 50 years ago. Byington’s mother said her late husband had also found Indian remains in that same area 29 years earlier. However, those remains were better preserved and wrapped in buffalo robes. Bows and arrows were also found in the same area.

-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, February 7, 2014

Box Elder name origins: From Locomotive Springs to Mount Pisgah

Box Elder County and southern Cache County boasts many unusual and some unique place names.
 Here is a sampling of some of them:
-Brigham City: First it was called “Box Elder,” for the nearby creek and the prevalence of same-named trees, from 1850-51. Next, it was referred to as Youngsville, after Brigham Young. Finally, in 1867, it was titled Brigham City.

-Corinne: Had many early monikers: Connor, Bear River and Burg on the Bear. Its name most likely came from the first white child born there – Corinne -- daughter of General J.A. Williamson.  However, variations also claim it came from a French actress who visited the town, or from a character in an 1807 novel.

-Crystal Springs: It was originally known as “Madsen Hot Spring.” But after some crystals were spotted forming on rocks from the spring water, the Crystal name stuck. Crystal is also the title of a nearby eastern peak.

-Deweyville: First named Empeys Spring and then Dewey Spring for settler John C. Dewey. After a Post Office opened in 1873, the name was changed to Deweyville.
-Dry Lake: This Sardine Canyon feature, actually in Cache County, was originally called “Box Elder Lake,” when the U.S. government made its first survey of the area in 1879. After it kept switching back and forth between wet and dry conditions, with the latter being the norm most years, the “Dry Lake” title took over.
-Garland: Sunset was its original title, in honor of the beautiful sunsets there. Later, it was named for William Garland, who spearheaded construction of the Bothwell Canal and the local sugar beet industry.
-Honeyville: Hunsakerville was its first moniker, after LDS Church Bishop, Abraham Hunsaker. However, by some accounts, he changed the name to Honeyville after his bee-keeping business. But, others claim the name became “Hun-eville,” a contraction of sorts, of Hunsaker’s name. Still others say the name was a reminder of their location, like Canaan in the Bible, a land flowing with milk and honey.
-Locomotive Springs: Named by J.T. Baker and Elijah Reed, who came to the area, located northwest of the Golden Spike National Historic Site, in 1888. At the time, the spring water rushed through a rocky crevice and sounded like a locomotive. However, soon settlers chipped away at the rocks and the noise stopped, but the name remained.
-Lucin Cutoff: It was originally called Pilot Peak, for the area’s dominant mountain. Its permanent name may come from a local fossil, “Lucina subanta.” First, it was 10 miles north of its current location, as small railroad town. Then, in 1903, it moved south as the Lucin railroad shortcut came across the Great Salt Lake.
-Mantua: It had a slew of early titles. It was called “The Little Valley” at first; then Flaxville for a crop raising attempt; Copenhagen, because of its many Danish settlers; and then Geneva, for a Swiss town. LDS Church leader Lorenzo Snow eventually named the town after his birthplace, Mantua, Ohio.
-Mount Pisgah: Likely named by a 19th Century field group that got trapped in a blizzard on the Cache County mountain, near the Cache-Box Elder county line. It is a Biblical mountain name, Deuteronomy 34:1 and other same-named peaks exist elsewhere too, such as one along the Mormon Pioneer Trail.
-Park Valley: The first settler, William Cotton Thomas, in 1869, was impressed with the dense tree growth near Dove Creek and the spectacular view of the valley. Hence, the name.
-Perry: Originally called Porter Spring, for Orrin Porter Rockwell, early landowner. Next, it was referred to as Three-mile Creek and finally named for Lorenzo Perry, pioneer settler and first Mormon Bishop there.

Sources: “Utah Place Names,” by John W. Van Cott; “A History of Box Elder County,” by Frederick M. Huchel; “Origins of Utah Place Names,” Utah Writers Project, 1940; and “A History of Box Elder County,” by Frederick M. Huchel.

-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: