Friday, August 29, 2014

The Roots of ‘Peach Days,’ ‘Tomato Days’

                         The Brigham City LDS Temple.

“PEACH Days,” the premier annual celebration by Brigham City, is set for Sept. 3-6 this year (2014).The first Peach Days event was held in 1904,to celebrate "an abundance of the best peaches in Utah."“Peach Day crowds at Brigham” was a Sept. 20, 1911 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner. By then, the event had hit its stride, when some 400 people boarded the Oregon Short Line Train at Ogden to travel to Brigham City for the festivities. In all, some 1,500 people were riding the rails from the south to Box Elder County’s largest city.Events held for the two-day event back in 1911 (Wednesday-Thursday timeline) included: a parade, balloon ascension, a baseball game, wrestling match, musical concert, moving pictures exhibition, dancing and horticultural judging.A highlight of the festivities were free peaches and other fruit – available in abundance – to visitors at the city park and various stores in town.By 1912, Peach Days had welcomed the automobile age and many Weber County visitors traveled north by car. However, there were also at least five traffic accidents reported en route to Peach Days, between Brigham City and Ogden.According to the Standard of Sept. 18, 1913, at least 10,000 people attended Peach Days.“A delegation of Commercial Club members met the first train at the station and escorted the visitors to the city park,” the Standard reported of the celebration 101 years ago. “Huge piles of luscious peaches, with a score of pretty girls to serve them, awaited the visitors.”300 barrels of free peaches were given out that year. Besides baseball games in 1913, there were also various horse races. Festivities ended with a dance.

-Switching to another historical celebration:Hooper City’s annual Farm Bureau Day/Tomato Days, dates back to 1926.About 2,000 people were reported to have attended the premiere event, 88 years ago.George Parker headed the committee to organize the first celebration, which included a lecture on feeding beef and dairy cattle, chariot races and other pulling and riding competitions.A free melon bust was also featured and “Visit Hooper on Labor Day” was the slogan organizers wanted the public to remember. Team pulling contests and horseshoe pitching competitions highlighted events at Hooper on Sept. 5, 1927, in its second annual celebrationCecil Newey, Robert Purdy and John Wilson, some of Utah’s best horseshoe pitchers, gave a demonstration of their skill at the event.Horse races, foot races, a tug-of-war, dance and various agricultural judging were other events held.(“Tomato Days” this year is Saturday, Aug. 30 and Monday, Sept. 1, with a rodeo, farmers market, 5K run/walk, parade, craft fair and more.)

-Also, earlier in 1926, the Hooper Farm Bureau had staged a very unusual “Mock Wedding Party Feature,” according to a headline in the Standard of Feb. 26 that year.A mock marriage between “Joshua Farmer” (played by Mrs. Dale Russell) and “Madelda Farm Bureau” (portrayed by Les Stoddard) was the highlight of the banquet/dance, attended by 75 couples.John Belnap impersonated a minister, with a wedding march after the “ceremony.”James K. Widdison was the toastmaster of the evening and old time dances followed the banquet.

                The center of Hooper today, looking north along 5900 West.

(-Originally published by Lynn Arave on August 29, 2014 in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.)

-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, August 22, 2014

Utah’s ‘Alcatraz Island’ proposal

                 From the northwest end of Antelope Island, looking back to the Wasatch Mountains.

THERE'S current talk of moving the Utah State Prison.
Ninety-two years ago, there was a proposal to move the prison the first time, from its original location (where Sugar House Park is now), to Antelope Island.
“State prison may be moved” was a Sept. 28, 1922 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
Utah Governor Charles R. Mabey appointed a commission to the study that possibility. Of course, it never happened, but even in the 1920s, the prison encircled by residential neighborhoods, was not deemed desirable.
Antelope Island, undeveloped, could have made a kind of “Alcatraz Island” in the Top of Utah.
At about the same time, the mid-1920s, Edward Fenton Colburn, of Salt Lake City, had dreams of turning Antelope Island into a full-scale resort.

                           The northern end of Antelope Island.

He had plans to build a concrete bridge to the Island, install bathing facilities there, cottages, sports grounds and even create a game preserve.
Colburn, a Salt Lake judge, was trying to secure financing for such a resort when he died on Jan. 14, 1926. His dreams apparently died with him.
But Colburn wasn’t the first to envision Antelope Island as a resort. J.E. Dooly, President of the Antelope Island Improvement Company, spoke of possible recreational facilities there in 1910. He even wanted a four-mile-long railroad spur to access to isle – and even a loop of iron rails to encircle Antelope.
Yet, some Utah Methodists, even earlier, in 1888, had dreams of a “Utah Chautauqua”(an adult education movement, featuring entertainment and culture)  on 

            Looking east from Antelope Island, to the causeway, back to civilization.

Antelope Island, also with access to the railroad. However, it was decided there wasn’t a high enough population base in the area to support that idea.
Antelope Island was originally called “Church Island,” starting in 1849, when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints started ranching operations there. The isle was also referred to as “Buffalo Island” in the early 20th Century, with bison were placed there.
In other historical notes:
-“A wild animal” was an Oct. 28, 1884 Standard headline.
“We have been informed that a large savage pig, with an ugly and menacing tusk, is running at large in Harrisville, and doing considerable damage,” the story reported.
The beast attacked one child and an old gentleman. Area residents were ready to destroy the marauding animal.
-The legendary “Buffalo Bill Show” made several visits to Ogden in the early 20th Century, performing on Tabernacle Square.
Appearances to Ogden were reported in the Aug. 13, 1902 and the Sept. 10, 1908 Standard.
An estimated 19,000 people were thrilled by Buffalo Bill’s 1902 visit. Almost as many turned out for the show seven years later too.
Trick horse riding and re-enactments of Indian battles were highlights of the show, on national tour, with 550 horses and 800 entertainers. It took 57 rail cars to transport the show to Ogden.

(-Originally published by Lynn Arave in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on Aug. 22, 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:  

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Utah flashfloods of 1923 and More History ...

                           The sign inside Willard Basin.

CLOUDBURST Death Toll Mounts, Mangled bodies found in debris; Scouts victims” was an Aug. 14, 1923 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
Ninety-one years ago this month, floods struck Willard, Farmington and Centerville, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage and eight people were killed.
There were two fatalities below Willard Canyon and six in or around Farmington Canyon.
Crops in the wide area were ruined and the main highway was blocked by up to six feet of mud in Willard and Farmington.

                      Looking downward into lower Farmington Canyon.       Photo by Taylor Arave.
Flood crests in Farmington Canyon were observed to be 75-100 feet high and 200 feet across. Patrons at Lagoon had to be rescued from trees, or roofs, where they had fled from the rising waters.
Willard lost all electrical power and communications and most of Farmington too.
A.L. Glasmann, editor of the Standard rushed to Willard after hearing of the disaster and worked throughout the night helping people.
“The district is a picture of desolation,” Glasmann stated.
The Standard also set up a relief fund and helped raised thousands of dollars for flood victims.
Much of the devastation resulted from overgrazing in the Wasatch Mountains. In the 1930s, government programs created reservoirs, terraces and flood basins above Willard and from Farmington to Centerville in the mountains to help prevent future such disasters.
By the way:
-Maelstrom  in the Lake,” was an April 16, 1903 headline in the Standard. Back then as the Lucin Cutoff was being built, fanciful stories of a bottomless sinkhole and whirlpool in the Great Salt Lake abounded.

  The Great Salt Lake at the north end of Fremont Island, where the Lucin Cutoff spans the water.

J.H. White, stockman and part-owner of Antelope Island called such stories “fairy tales” and laughed at them. Some such tall tales were told by Southern Pacific officials, who bet a solid road bed could not constructed for trains over such a sink hole. However, less that 18 months later, by September of 1904, trains started using the shortcut.  
-“Is Salt Lake destined to disappear?” was a Sept. 9, 1899 headline in the Standard. Claims of crop irrigation depleting the water from the streams that used to recharge the lake was cited as the cause, that would leave the inland sea at the sun’s mercy.

                Salt Flats at the east side of Fremont Island, when the lake is low.

Proof that the lake was vanishing was the fact that its length had decreased by 10 miles, from 80 to 70 miles in the past decade.
Yet, 115 years later, the Great Salt Lake is still there.
-“Would make part of Great Salt Lake fresh reservoir” was a Jan. 11, 1925 Standard headline. A possible dam was suggested on the east side of the lake from Saltair to Promontory Point. Inflowing river water would then make the briny waters fresh over time.
Almost four decades later, Willard Bay came along to the north of that original idea of creating fresh water on the lake’s eastern edge.
-More history:  Zion National Park was headed for a record tourist season 87 years ago. An Aug. 28, 1927 headline in the Standard stated, “Zion Park and Bryce Canyon are overrun with tourists.”
Californians in particular were visiting Utah’s two National Parks in record-setting numbers.
Deer hunting the Kaibab Forest, north of the Grand Canyon was also a big controversy in that era, with locals believing they had the right to five deer a year from that area.

(-Originally published on Aug. 15, 2014 in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.)

-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:  

Saturday, August 9, 2014

When Snow fell in August and a Salt Lake Temple invasion

By Lynn Arave

SNOW in August is probably the least likely time for a taste of winter in the Top of Utah. However, “Snowstorm in middle of August” was an Aug. 19, 1912 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
Travelers going from Woodruff, Rich County, over the mountains into Huntsville on Aug. 18 that year, encountered a “heavy snowstorm.”
Temperatures were reported near freezing at Huntsville and even “Observatory Peak” (Mount Ogden) received snow from the same storm that day.

More history:
-Reports of a “mysterious invasion” of the Salt Lake Temple comprises another strange news item, also from just over a century ago.
“Invades the Mormon Temple” was the headline. According to the Standard of Sept. 16, 1911, a blackmailer was trying to extort $100,000 from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The criminal supposedly had “flashlight photographs” of the interior of the Mormon Temple and would publish them, if not paid off.
Max Florence, the former “movie king” of Salt Lake City was believed to be the alleged blackmailer and now residing in New York City.

LDS Church President Joseph F. Smith was quoted as saying, “That the Church authorities did not desire to enter into any negotiations with thieves and blackmailers.”
He also said he didn’t care if the photographs were published or not, since some 800 non-members of the Church had toured the inside of the temple before its 1893 dedication.
President Smith said furthermore that the pictures were not taken by flashlight, but likely a few months earlier when the temple was closed for cleaning. That’s because some furniture in the photos were covered by canvas.
It was later determined that an accomplice, an active Elder in the Church, who also had special access to the Temple, had taken the photographs for Florence. He was later excommunicated from the LDS Church for his actions.
Florence meanwhile, was known to be in personal financial trouble. However, he first scoffed at the alleged $100,000 ransom for the pictures, claiming if had actually done that, he would have asked for a lot more money. By January of 1912, Florence had returned to Salt Lake and said he had received some offers to buy the temple pictures, but had taken none, because the buyers wanted him to defame the LDS Church and he would not do that.
That controversy then faded away. (However, Florence was arrested twice in succeeding years for separate issues. In 1917, he was arrested on a felony for false imprisonment of a theater owner. In 1918, he pleaded guilty to breaking Utah’s “dry law,” by bringing in barrels of whiskey from Wyoming.)
 -More history: “Muzzle the bulldogs” was a May 19, 1911 editorial in the Standard. Pitbulls may be the most controversial canine breed today, but bulldogs in that era were the hot issue.
The editorial cited the death of a dog and a cat as recently happening in Ogden from bulldog attacks, plus a Salt Lake girl, 10, was attacked and injured by a loose bulldog in that city.
(-Originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on August 8, 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: