Friday, May 30, 2014

Late 19th Century Memorial Day Celebrations in Ogden

                          An unidentified Ogden area bicycle racer in the early 1900s.

MEMORIAL DAY was Monday, May 26 in 2014. However, this holiday used to be known as “Decoration Day” and it didn’t always fall on a Monday.
“Next Saturday is Decoration day,” The Standard of May 28, 1891 reported. “As usual it will be almost a universal holiday. Stores will close and all will be in holiday attire.”
The article also mentioned a procession at 10 a.m. on Decoration Day that marched down Washington Avenue. A band, drummers and cadets of the Ogden Military Academy led the parade. Ogden’s mayor and city council followed in carriages.
The procession concluded by going in reverse order to the Ogden Cemetery.
By 1896, a May 29 article in the Standard called the holiday “Memorial Day.” That year, the celebration included a bicycle race from 25th Street and Washington in Ogden to the Hot Springs south of Willard. The race winner received a diamond ring valued at $50 (more than $2,000 in today’s dollars).
Then, there was a baseball game between Ogden and Willard players competing for a winning purse of $10.

(-Originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on May 23, 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:  

From Lake Monsters to Flying Serpents to Hairy Creatures

                              The southern shore of Bear Lake

By Lynn Arave

TERRIFYING monster sightings were reported in the early history of the Top of Utah and Southeast Idaho. The Bear Lake Monster is perhaps the most famous and long-lived of these, first reported in 1868.
Reports of separate “sea monsters” in both the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake soon followed.
However, there were other intriguing, but relatively unknown monster sightings in northern Utah.
For example, “A veritable Eden. The serpent is at his old tricks again” was a July 23, 1894 report in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
This was from the Eden of Weber County, in Ogden Valley. On the previous Friday evening about sundown, “a number of Eden’s reliable men” claimed they spotted a “monster serpent,” 100 feet long and 18 inches in diameter,  flying through the air and swooping down near Wilbur’s Store, at the corner of Independence Park.
They estimated it was moving at 36-40 mph and soon disappeared over the mountains in the direction of Middle Fork Canyon – apparently never to be spotted again.
A serpent in Biblically named Eden, just this side of Paradise (Cache County). Who knew?
The disastrous floods of Willard in 1923 also spawned another monster of sorts.
In the debris from that great summer flash flood that moved boulders the size of houses around, the head of a “vaunted prehistoric monster” was initially believed to have been found.
Yet, in a Standard-Examiner report from Oct. 12, 1923, the headline read: “Weird monster of Willard flood debris is stuffed shark.”
Willard resident Don Harding had returned from an LDS Church mission to the South Seas with a stuffed shark head. When the floods ravaged his home, the shark head was washed away, where it was found on the other side of town. Eventually Harding cleared up that local mystery and reclaimed his souvenir.
“Frightening by a long-haired creature” was a Jan. 28, 1902 headline in the Standard-Examiner.
In a report sent from Pocatello, a group of young people from Chesterfield, Caribou County (about 20 miles northwest of Soda Springs) were ice skating on the Portneuf River in the field of John Gooch.
(Chesterfield today is a ghost town and historic site, while the Portneuf River is also the stream that runs through Lava Hot Springs.)
The skaters claimed they were “visited by an eight-foot-all-hair covered human monster” which “showed fight and flourishing a large stick.”
The skaters fled the scene in their wagons. A party of the young men returned, armed with rifles this time and “got a good view of the monster warming himself by the fire they had left.”
“The beast was at least eight feet high, covered with long reddish brown hair, the face was hidden by immense bushy whiskers, and no part of the naked skin was to be seen except a small spot above the eyes,” the newspaper account stated.
For reasons not stated, the armed young men decided not to approach or shoot the creature.
The next morning they returned and found large, naked tracks in the snow the creature had left with just the imprint of four toes. The tracks measured 7 ¼ inches across.
Later, stockmen reported having spotted similar tracks in the area in recent years.
“The people, feeling unsafe while the beast is at large, have sent some twenty men on its trail to effect its capture,” the reported concluded.

  Soda Point, north end of the Wasatch Mountains, southeast of Chesterfield; west of Soda Springs, Idaho.

The creature was never reported as found.
Today, this hairy creature sighting would best fit the parameters of a Bigfoot or Sasquatch report. However, even those names were more than a half-century away from coming into being, from this, perhaps the region’s earliest of possible Bigfoot encounters ever recorded.
And, you've got wonder how many similar sightings of monsters, or strange phenomenon over the decades have went unreported for fear of ridicule ...?
(-Originally published by Lynn Arave in the Standard-Examiner on May 30, 2014.)

--UPDATE: I heard this from the mother of a son who worked for Union Pacific.
 In about 2005, the son and another U.P. engineer were railroading their usual route from Ogden to Elko, Nev.
Both men claimed to have clearly spotted a flying creature zip in front of the train and speed away. It was clear and massive, kind of like a giant jellyfish.
Both men were shocked, never having seen anything like that in decades of driving trains.
This happened out by Lakeside, along the border of the west side of the Great Salt Lake.
They also claimed they spotted the same flying creature on their return trip to Ogden in the same area.
They said it was a living entity, not some drone or aircraft.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Different Kind of History: Exploring the Ogden Cemetery

By Lynn Arave

HISTORY isn’t just found in books, libraries, or on the Internet.
There’s a humbling, yet definitive kind of history to be discovered in a cemetery
Many people make at least annual pilgrimages to area cemeteries -- and they should look at more than the flowers, or the graves of family and friends.
Take a short walk, explore … Find old graves and new ones, small ones and large ones.
There are tidbits of history to be discovered in cemeteries of those who lived before and helped pave the path for us.
There’s also the lesson in mortality here, that everyone eventually passes on, rich, or poor; famous, or not; young, or old.
The Ogden, Utah Cemetery, for example, is some 54 acres full of tens of thousands of names, dates, inscriptions and epitaphs.
Located at 1875 Monroe Boulevard – just north of 20th Street and just west of Monroe – this graveyard began in 1851.
Without any kind of map, or guide, here’s what stood out to me during several strolls through sections of the Ogden Cemetery:
-The most common epitaphs spotted were: “Families are forever,” “Together forever,” “Love is forever,” “Rest in peace,” “Gone fishin’,” “In loving memory,” “Forever beloved,” “Forever with the Lord,” and “Our angel Mom.”

-Saddest graves: The dozens in “Baby Land” (northwest corner of cemetery) where numerous small headstones herald the many infants buried there. Also, found elsewhere: three graves of the children of Jeff and Holly Ebert, all 3 of whom were born separately and only lived a matter hours after birth, being born between 1986 and 1987.
Examples of unusual epitaphs spotted:
-“A light from our household is gone. A voice we loved is stilled. A place is vacant in our house that can never be filled.” In memory of Martin H. Harris, Sept. 29, 1820-Feb. 14, 1889.
-“From his handsome face to his gorgeous eyes @ beautiful smile he’ll truly be missed @ never forgotten.” “TJ” Timothy Joe Arguello, June 13, 1991-June 26, 2010.
-“Each of us hopes to join you at last on the beautiful heavenly shore. Resting in hopes of a glorious resurrection.” Sarah Y. Thomas, June 26, 1843-March 14, 1906.

-“His contributions to horology during a long and vigorous life are immortal. He had a joy of working with the finest fabric of God’s universe – the measurement of the passing of time.” William H. Samelius, “Dean of American Watchmakers,” March 1, 1873-Nov. 5, 1961; Maybelle Holst Samelius, Sept. 24, 1880-Oct. 8, 1969.
-“Pioneer-churchman, businessman,” Chauncey Walker West, 6 February 1827-6 January 1870.
-“Called to serve Him, Heavn’ly King of glory, Chosen Heir to witness for his name, Far and wide I tell our Father's story, Far and wide his love proclaim.” Elder Stephen Alexander Richards, Feb. 9, 1984-July 22, 2007.

-“A Saintly giant of a woman. Matriarch of one of the largest families in the church,” Elizabeth Patrick Taylor, 1793-1880.
-“Captain of Mormon Battalion and founder of Ogden City,” James Brown, Sept. 30, 1801-Sept. 30, 1863.
 -"I will seek to lay a true foundation in the hearts of the pupils upon which they may build their education,” Louis Frederick Moench, founder and first principal of Weber State College, July 29, 1846-April 25, 1916.
-“One who was a friend to all,” Adam Thomas McEntire, Aug, 23, 1959-May 20, 1979.
-“All the world is a stage,” Thomas L. Poppleton, Oct. 15, 1926-Nov. 13, 2011
-“A loving mother true and kind, a beautiful memory left behind,” Martha Louise Highfield, Sept. 6, 1878-June 12, 1955.
“Victims Farmington Flood, Aug. 13, 1923”: Walter J. Wright, 1899-1923; (and) Weathy C. Wright, 1895-1923.
-“It’s heaven to be ridin’ down the trail,” Junior Ivan Taylor, April 15, 1910-Dec. 27, 1996.

-“Here rests a woodman of the world,” Thomas D. Swift, 1870-1926.
-“Not on this perishing stone, but in the book of life, and in the hearts of thy afflicted friends, is thy worth recorded,” John Hamer, Aug. 15, 1865-Aug. 2, 1890.
-AND, there’s also a special Tiffany’s Memorial Pet Cemetery, in the northeast section of the Ogden Cemetery. One headstone there that stood out was for a dog, Karo Carter, Dec. 14, 1984-July 11, 1996. “A smile, a wiggle and a wag … In memory of our devoted Lab” was the inscription.

(-Originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on May 26, 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, May 23, 2014

Dreams of lofty mountain roads never built in northern Utah

                       The rugged road to Willard Basin was constructed by the CCC in the 1930s.

By Lynn Arave

THIS is a tale of mountain roads dreamed of, but never built.
Ogden area residents were very excited about the advent of the automobile. In fact, they had dreams in the 1910s of constructing auto roads to the top of prominent local mountain peaks.
The first such dream appeared in the Standard-Examiner on June 25, 1912:
“Why not build an automobile driveway to Lewis Peak or one of the other high mountains east of Ogden, so that even those not stout of heart and vigor of limb can reach the heights, see the grandeur of the mighty architectural work of Omnipotence and hitch wagons to the stars,” the report stated.
That way, the story stated, even Postmaster Lewis Shurtliff, who was one of the first recorded to climb Lewis Peak, some 60 years earlier, could “go back in fancy to the days of long ago while a six-cylinder machine under low gear carried him up to the base of the peak in the clouds.”
Ben Lomond Peak, almost a year later, was the next peak mentioned as needing an auto road.
“From Ogden to a peak above the clouds” was the May 20, 1913 story in the Standard.
“To build and improve the road from Ogden to Ben Lomond peak by way of Liberty is a proposition that is receiving the support of a number of Ogden people, among whom is Attorney D.R. Roberts.”
The report stated that the road would have to be made from the backside, from Liberty, as cliffs on the Ogden side prevent a road from there.

                          Another view along the Willard Basin road.

“A road to that peak would attract autoists from all parts of the western country and no transcontinental tourist would pass by Ogden without making the visit to the point,” stated Roberts, who believed the road would be one of the most famous auto trips in America.
The report infers that there already was – in 1913 -- a road of sorts from Liberty (perhaps from today’s North Fork Park area) partway to the back of Ben Lomond.
Of course, neither the Lewis Peak, or the Ben Lomond road was ever built.
(The two stories didn’t mention the still existing “road” to Malan’s Peak and Malan’s Basin that went up Taylor Canyon, starting in 1892. This path was just wide enough for a horse and special small wagon.)
Salt Lakers were also infected with the same conquering spirit.
The Davis County Clipper reported on Oct. 17, 1913, that the Salt Lake City Commission had ordered a survey made of a possible mountain road.
This path would be made around the base of Ensign Peak and continue along the shoreline of Lake Bonneville to Mill Creek Canyon and eventually through the mountains to Morgan.
This report said city prisoners could do some of the construction and big landowners along the route had already agreed to provide legal access.
Some believed such a road would keep tourists in the Salt Lake area for days, weeks and months, instead of just hours.
This road never happened either, though today there is the “Scenic Backway” of Skyline Drive that goes from Farmington Canyon and along the mountain top to Bountiful (yet this dirt route lacks similar access to the Morgan side).

(-Originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on May 23, 2014.)

                Looking down into Willard Basin from the west side. Note the roads below.

-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, May 14, 2014

The Great Stone Face -- Guardian of the Desert southwest of Deseret

                      A statue of Joseph and Emma Smith in downtown SLC.

By Lynn Arave

Does a likeness of Joseph Smith Jr., first president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, exist in the vast Millard County deseret, southwest of Delta?
Some believe so.
On a remote hillside in Utah's Sevier Desert, about four miles southwest of Deseret and some 17 miles southwest of Delta, rises a craggy volcanic outcrop. For almost seven decades, area residents and visitors have been attracted to the formation.
In it, they can discern the outlines of a man's features: head, brow, nose, mouth and even perhaps a high collar.
Welcome to the "Great Stone Face," or the "Guardian of Deseret," or "Keeper of the Desert." From a certain angle, notes the book "A History of Millard County," a 1999 entry in the Utah Centennial County History Series, "some see a resemblance to LDS Church founder Joseph Smith."
This remains a still seldom visited outdoor treasure for Mormons.
The Great Stone Face was originally called "Guardian of the Deseret" by Millard County newspapers during the 1920s, the era when it first claimed local fame as a tourist destination.
(Part of that reference is for the nearby town of Deseret.)
"Many Mormons see an uncanny resemblance of this naturally carved formation to profile pictures of church founder Joseph Smith," Millard County's official tourism site reads.
Whether or not it is partly the power of suggestion, there definitely is a face to be spotted here in the rocks, though some may argue whose face.
Visitors have to decide that for themselves at the site, about 150 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.
The rock pillar sits some 150 feet above the Sevier Desert floor amid a field of lava rock and sagebrush, with a view to Notch Peak to the west.
A steep scramble along a 400-yard-long trail takes hikers to the base of the monument over loose rock. A rugged path, outlined by lava rocks, marks the way.
Indian petroglyphs dating back about 1,000 years are found in the general area just north of the Great Stone Face. These markings are now highlighted by a new sign.
--To reach this natural wonder, travel to Delta and then go southwest on U.S. 6/50 about five miles and turn south on state Route 257.
Then travel about six miles south on S.R. 257 to a signed turnoff to the west (right).
Go west on the gravel road and travel for almost six miles to the north edge of the black lava beds. The gravel road — passable by cars in dry weather, though there are washboard ruts in the road in places and three cattleguards to cross — loops around the west side of the hill and ends at a small parking area. There is no admission fee. 
The petroglyphs are located just a few hundred yards before the parking lot and feature their own sign.
These inscriptions were jokingly called the first edition of the Deseret News back in the 1920s and 1930s by Millard County newspapers.
Hike south up the hillside, looking for the dominant rock. Those who can't or don't want to hike can still see the Great Stone Face from a distance, best viewed with binoculars.
This is a moderately strenuous hike up the hill side.

(The accompanying photos show the Great Stone Face, as well as the petyroglyphs sign.)

The Great Stone Face formation was reported as early as Nov. 18, 1927, when the Millard County Chronicle reported a visit there by local Boy Scouts.
Even then, the connection to being a likeness of Joseph Smith was reported.
The Chronicle newspaper reported on April 7, 1938 that sunrise Easter Services were held at the Great Stone Face that year by the nearby Hinckley and Deseret Wards of the LDS Church.

For more information on the Great Stone Face, go to:
(Modified/expanded, but originally presented in the Deseret News,  May 13, 2010, by Lynn Arave.)

-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, May 9, 2014

Ogden’s Great Train Robbery Mystery of 1911

By Lynn Arave

THE Golden Spike in Utah completed the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. However, one of the Ogden area’s most dastardly of train robberies actually happened almost 42 years later and more recently than in most Hollywood versions of the wild west -- just over 103 years ago, on January 2, 1911.
According to the Jan. 3 Ogden Standard-Examiner of that year, “Train held up, one man killed and passengers robbed just west of Ogden” was the key headline. This may have been one of the last of the area’s big train robberies and was referred to at the time as “the most daring train robbery ever planned and executed in the west.”
Thieves robbed the Overland Limited, at Reese, about nine miles west of Ogden. Besides the robbery, the two masked men with short-barreled rifles, shot and killed a porter and wounded another porter. Both those shootings appeared racially motivated.
The robbery happened shortly before midnight and word of the robbery reached Ogden about two hours later.
The men had tried to steal the engine of the train, to reach Ogden, but were thwarted by a freight train following the limited. They robbed two girls in Warren, en route to Ogden and were believed to be somewhere in town. The men appeared to have intricate knowledge of the operation of the railroad and their only shortcoming was in failing to account for a train following their train. 
Posses set out in every direction but failed to find a trace of the bandits the day after the robbery.
However, the bandits, W. Lewis, 39, and Peter Murphy, 37, were caught 11 days later sleeping in an Ogden lodging house at 2417 Grant Avenue.
The Jan. 14, 1911 Standard said, “Holdups make no effort to resist officers,” as they were caught napping by officers. One of the men captured immediately held out his wrists to be handcuffed.
A “great crowd was attracted to the scene of the arrest.” Their landlady said they had been gambling with their new wealth. Two other men, who acted as a fence for the thieves, were also arrested.
Police reported they believe the same two men held up the Oregon Short Line, near Ogden, in the summer of 1910 and had also robbed an Ogden pawn shop.
“All afternoon the (Ogden) police station was besieged by persons desiring to catch some sight of the bandits,” the Standard reported.
However, that wasn't near the end of it. Soon, the police released Murphy, kept W. Lewis, but decided Thomas O'Dell was the other culprit (Standard-Examiner Jan. 16, 1911).
Yet, within days those two suspect were released for lack of evidence.
"Suspects are to leave the jail" was the Standard's Jan. 23, 1911 headline.
Next, the Weber County Sheriff's Office received tips and extradited Bryan O'Hara and Victor Clore from Michigan for the crime, as prime suspects.
But on May 22, 1911, those two men were also released because of a lack of sufficient evidence against them.
So, no robbers were ever found for that great crime. It remains an unsolved mystery to this day.

                                                                     Photo courtesy of Weber County Sheriff's Office Archives.

This historic photograph, taken May 22, 1911, shows Bryan O'Hara and Victor Clore (left side) with two Sheriff's Deputies as they were released from jail after a District Judge cited a lack of evidence.

”Trains are to carry guards” was an aftermath of the train robbery and a Jan. 7, 1911 headline in the Standard. All Harrison Company passenger trains would now include heavily armed guards to prevent future such robberies.
Yet, the 1911 train robbery wasn’t the last for the Ogden area, as occasional, much smaller railroad thefts still took place. For example, in March of 1916, a so-called “Gentleman robber,” whose “commands were mild in good language” stole mail off a train in Roy. The lone robber missed taking the local mailbag and walked off with two out-of-state mailbags, according to a March 29 Standard report. There was no report indicating this train robber was ever caught.

(-Revised and originally published on-line and in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on May 8-9, 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:  

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Goodyear Cabin: Ogden’s greatest historical treasure

By Lynn Arave

THE Miles Goodyear Cabin in Ogden is the oldest non-Native American structure in Utah. It is also perhaps Ogden’s greatest historical gem.
Built in 1845, two years before the Mormon Pioneers arrived, the now 169-year-old cabin was the first permanent house built in Utah.
However, it is a miracle the cabin has survived the times, in that it has moved at least seven times around town – and was also towed on a trailer in one Pioneer Day Parade.
It is presently located on the Weber County Pioneer Museum grounds, 2104 Lincoln Avenue.

The historic log cabin, about 250-square-feet in size and made of Cottonwood logs, originally stood near the junction of Ogden and Weber Rivers, close to where today’s Fort Buenaventura State Park in West Ogden now stands.
In the fall of 1847 it was sold by Miles Goodyear (along with the entire Ogden area) to settler Captain James Brown of the Mormon Battalion, representing the Mormon Church, for $1,950.

                              Captain James Brown

The cabin first had to be moved about 440 yards southeast of its original location, to higher ground, to be protected from an overflowing Weber River in 1850, according to the Standard on Dec. 27, 1919.
 In 1857, it was purchased by Amos Pease Stone and used as a blacksmith business. In 1860, Stone moved the cabin to the banks of Mill Creek.
In 1866, it was relocated to 1342 Washington Boulevard (named “Main Street” in those days.) On April 3, 1896, Minerva P. Shaw purchased the cabin, who soon relocated it slightly south, near her residence, 1265 Washington Boulevard (“Avenue” back then). The cabin was then repaired and its dirt roof was replaced with a shingle roof.
In 1916, Shaw donated the cabin to the Ogden Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. The cabin made a special appearance in the July 24, 1916 Ogden Pioneer Days Parade, incorporated into a float.
David O. Mckay, chairman of the Ogden Pioneer Days Pageant, recommended that it appear in the parade so that it “might go visiting and show itself off to the big buildings that have been erected since it pioneered,” as quoted in the June 4, 1916 Ogden Standard-Examiner. (The article also mentioned that a controversy was also recently settled proving the cabin was the oldest house in the state.)
The cabin was next transported to the rear of Ogden City Fire Station No. 3, 901 Washington on Dec. 4, 1919. The Sept. 21, 1920 Standard stated that the City of Ogden was now going to take steps to safeguard the oldest house in the state. A shed, to protect the building from storms, was then erected over it.
In 1928, the cabin was moved to Ogden’s Tabernacle Block. There it resided for more than eight decades.
The cabin was meticulously refurbished in 1994-1995. It was dismantled and each of the approximate 500 pieces were numbered. The logs were treated for preservation and a solid rubber membrane was added to the roof, for weatherproofing. Like a sort of jigsaw puzzle, the cabin was then reassembled and each log was linked with an acrylic material.
Near the end of 2011, the cabin was moved to its current location, 21st Street and Lincoln Avenue. The cabin had to be relocated because of the underground parking garage construction for the new Ogden Temple. The LDS Church paid expenses to move the cabin. City leaders hope the new location gives the priceless cabin more visibility.

 (-Written by Lynn Arave and originally published on-line in the Ogden Standard-Examiner, May 1, 2014 and in print on May 2, 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:  

Southeast Utah -- Where the Wild Wild West Still Rules

     Reaching Sipapu Bridge is a 0.6 mile steep hike in Natural Bridges National Monument.

By Lynn Arave
TAKE a survey of Utah adult residents and you'd probably discover that 80 percent or more have been to Southwest Utah and St. George.
However, you would likely also find that only 10 percent or so have been to Bluff/Blanding/Mexican Hat and Southeast Utah.
("Four Corners" is probably the largest draw in the area.)
While the St. George area is bustling, crowded and congested, southeast Utah is where the open wild wild west still rules.
Spectacular views, anchored by Monument Valley, dominate the landscape. It is like living in a John Wayne western movie.
No traffic jams, motels so laid back that credit cards are not even asked for and friendly locals.
               White Canyon, northwest of Bluff, Utah in Natural Bridges.

                    Part of the rugged, yet exciting way down to Sipapu Bridge.

Southeast Utah was the last section of Utah to be settled by pioneers. In fact, it was only 1904 -- barley over a century ago -- that National Geographic explored portions of San Juan County.
One may often wondered what the first explorers found or thought when entering a virgin region. Here is an early account of the exploration of southeast Utah:
In 1905, "Wonders of San Juan County" was a May 3 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
S.T. Whitaker was a photographer in a small group sent out by the Commercial Club of Salt Lake to explore southeast Utah.
Whitaker took some 700 photos in a 30-day expedition.
The group took a train to Thompson Springs and then went by wagons to Moab and then Bluff City.
From there, it was a 20-animal pack train of supplies that had to be used to penetrate the area. Some Navajo trails were used and at one point the group had to detour some 25 miles to get through a slickrock ridge.
"Upon arriving at a canyon called White Canyon we found what is perhaps one of the largest, if not the largest, natural stone bridges in  the world," Whitaker, from Ogden, wrote in his report. "We called it the Augusta, it is 310 feet (wide) ..."
(The party named two other large bridges "Caroline" and "Edwin," oblivious to the fact that National Geographic had named the same bridges "President," "Senator" and "Congressman," in order of height, just about one year prior.)
Today, these bridges are located in Natural Bridges National Monument and are named Sipapu (meaning place of emergence), Kachina and Owachomo -- also variations on Native American words.
If often took all 250 length of rope for these early 20th Century explorers to descend into White Canyon and reach these stone features. They also noticed some ancient inscriptions in the rocks of White Canyon.
The expedition also discovered a 400-foot-long cave in the area, its entrance almost completely covered by a waterfall.
They also noticed mounds all over the habitable landscape, which they believed to be the ruins of past natives.
The group also reported finding relics -- crumbling pots, some mummified remains and most interesting -- battle axes near a lot of bones and skulls -- proof of a large battle long ago in the area.

                           One of the rustic wooden ladders en route to Sipapu.

--Today visitors to Sipapu and other natural bridges are aided by stairs, ladders and defined trails to reach the bottom of White Canyon.
Obviously a visit to the Four Corners is a visitor highlight in SE Utah, but don't forget to savor the open landscape here, as the native Navajo nation seems to do so.

Taking a "loop" here, if you have the time, is the best way to appreciate the area. Go down Utah Highway 95 from Hanksville and you'll see the Henry Mountains, Hog Springs (great picnic area), the north end of Lake Powell -- with some spectacular rocky viewpoints that rival Canyonlands or Dead Horse Point.

Continuing toward Blanding, it is quite a winding drive, but erosion of the landscape is the focus here.
Returning north, take Highway 191 through Monticello and Moab for a faster, straighter drive.

                         Monument Valley in the far distance.

-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: