Thursday, November 20, 2014

Back when prep and collegiate players met on the gridiron

EVER wonder how Utah’s best high school football team would fare against Utah’s college teams?
Back in 1907, such games were a reality. Since there were few high schools around, grid contests were regularly played against prep schools from as far away as Montana and yes, sometimes even vs. college teams.
Ogden High had the best prep football team in the state 107 years ago. It lost to the University of Utah 19-0 and to the Agricultural College at Logan 6-0 that year.
“All Hallows defeated by Ogden” was a Nov. 19, 1907 headline in the Standard-Examiner, as the Tigers captured the state prep grid title for the second year in a row.
“My, what a surprise!!” the Standard story stated. “The boys with the tiger striped sweaters cavorted around Cummings field yesterday afternoon, while two thousand fans, dyed in the wool Salt Lakes, sat on the bleachers aghast. When finally the game was ended they filed out without making any noise, or comment. The score was 33 to 0.”
(All Hallows was a small Catholic college that existed in S.L. from 1886-1918 and that somehow was a member of the Utah high school football league in that era.)
After its impressive victory in S.L., it was hoped that Ogden High could play against the best team from Chicago, Ill., but that didn’t happen as travel costs would have been a pricey $1,500 (more than $36,000 in today’s dollars) for the visiting team.
Prep football fans in Salt Lake also had some sort of wild demonstration that season.
“High school rowdies in Zion.  They are to be severely dealt with. Worst of the disgrace has not been made public, it is said,” was a Nov. 8, 1907 headline in the Standard.
The story stated was that some Salt Lake High School students had paraded in a rowdy manner and were simply lawless before the start of the Ogden vs. Salt Lake High School football game.
 (Back in 1907, there was only ONE Salt Lake public high school and that was West High School, though many simply called it “Salt Lake High.”)
Ogden beat Salt Lake High 10-5 in one 1907 game.

-What was Thanksgiving Day like, back in 1907?
 “Thanksgiving Day, How it was spent, Ogdenites observe the day in the most elaborate manner – Union services held by churches –Students have the streets illuminated at night,” was a Dec. 3, 1907 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
(The last Thursday of November, Nov. 28 that year,  was designated as Thanksgiving, until 1942, when the fourth Thursday became the current standard.)
Thanksgiving morning in 1907 was described as quiet, like a Sunday. The First Congregational Church did hold special services, with a large congregation.
The Salvation Army reported feeding many needy families and baskets of food were delivered to others.
“There is not a home in Ogden where there is found any poverty that is not remembered by the Salvation Army every Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year,” the Standard reported.
The Weber County Jail served special chicken dinners to its residents. Meanwhile, inmates at the State Industrial School received turkey dinners.
Ogden area high school boys got street lights turned on, that had not been lit for weeks. There were also some bonfires, as many people headed to the theaters, parties, ice skating or dancing.
-Twenty years earlier, in 1887, Thanksgiving Day was on Thursday, Nov. 14, as designated by the Territorial Governor of Utah, as a day of “thanksgiving and prayer.”
-Utah’s first-ever Thanksgiving was technically celebrated Aug. 10, 1848, following the first harvest of wheat.

(-Originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on Nov. 20-21, 2014 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:  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

When 60 mph shattered the Ogden to Salt Lake speed record

                                        I-15 in Layton today, with a 65 mph speed limit.

ALMOST 90 years ago, the automobile had only been a prominent fixture in Utah about two decades. Of course, there was no I-15 and the Bonneville Salt Flats had not yet become a racing mecca. So, racing in record time from Utah’s second-largest city to its biggest city was a worthy speed challenge.
“Baker breaks Salt Lake-Ogden auto mark, Famous pilot shatters old record in marvelous dash” was an April 10, 1925 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
Erwin “Cannonball” Baker of Indiana, who had set cross county speed records (including New York to Los Angeles in 71 hours and 33 minutes) had averaged 60.33 mph in traveling from Ogden to Salt Lake, a distance of 33.5 miles, in 36 minutes and 18 seconds.

                       "Death Curve" in Roy today, at 1900 West and Riverdale Road.

“The famous Death Curve” out of Ogden was taken at better than 60 miles an hour,” the Standard reported. (That might have actually been in Roy at today’s Riverdale Road and 1900 West junction.)
The Standard-Examiner sports editor, Warren Erickson, Baker’s mechanic and a man from Postal Telegraph Company rode in the record-setting Rickenbacker model car
Jenkins raced through Sunset, Clearfield, Layton, Kaysville, Farmington and Bountiful. His top speed was 87 mph and 35 mph his lowest (during a brief engine problem). He had police escorts on motorcycles as long as they could keep up.
The mark by Baker broke the previous record, set by Abe Jenkins of Salt Lake, at 39 minutes even.
“This almost unbelievable record may never be shattered,” the Standard story concluded.

                              1900 West Street in Roy today.

-Today, much of the speed limit between Ogden and Salt Lake is 65 mph and some drivers greatly exceed that.
MapQuest lists the distance from Ogden to Salt Lake at 39 miles, requiring 40 minutes. However, that includes a number of traffic signals, as well as 5.5 miles more than in the 1925 record run.
 Knock off that extra distance and no doubt the majority of I-15 drivers today easily exceed Baker’s speed record all the time.
(Note that the Bonneville Salt Flats first attracted world-wide attention about two months later in June of 1925. That's when Utah's Abe Jenkins outraced a Union Pacific train from Salt Lake to Wendover by five minutes in his Studebaker. A year later, Jenkins would set his own cross country driving records, though he was most famous for racing the "Mormon Meteor.")
-Baker’s record Ogden to S.L. run was only possible because in August of 1920, the state highway between the two cities had been completed after two years of construction.
“Completion of State Highway is to be celebrated at Lagoon by three counties on August 18,” was an Aug. 4, 1920 headline in the Standard.
Separate parades left Salt Lake and Ogden, meeting up at Lagoon, where Governor Simon Bamberger officially opened the new road.
William Haight of Farmington, a pioneer, also spoke of the trail conditions for the three counties in 1848, as he saw them while wintering cattle in Weber County.
Swimming races, baseball games, bucking contests and more were held to celebrate the occasion after the new paved road was open.
-Another historical note: “Runaway street car imperils many lives, dashed down steep hill; crashes into store,” was a Nov. 15, 1918 Standard Headline.
A Twenty-Fifth Street car going eastbound up the hill above Washington Boulevard, lost traction because of leaves and dust on the tracks. It rolled backward and became a runaway westbound, crashing into the Sims hat store, next to the Broom Hotel.
No one was hurt, including the four passengers, one of whom jumped out of the trolley at about Adams Avenue.

(-Originally published on Nov. 13-14 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:  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Monster bear encounters and a forgotten distillery

                    A bear statue at Ogden's Prairie Schooner Restaurant.

"KILLED a Monster Bear” was an Oct. 17, 1904 headline in the Standard-Examiner.
Frank Adams of Hooper came home with the hide of a 900-pound grizzly bear which he killed “in a desperate encounter in Black Bear Canyon at the head of Beaver Canyon.”
(Beaver Canyon is in the upper portion of today’s South Fork of Weber County, off Highway 39.)
Adams was on his way from camp to the bedding ground for sheep in the area, “when he was suddenly confronted by a huge infuriated bear that came for him open-mouthed. The beast was only twenty yards away and Adams had no weapon but his twenty-two,” the Standard report stated.
“With a nerve and accuracy which is astonishing under the circumstances, he began firing as rapidly as possible … The little missiles seemed to have no effect … Thirteen shots were fired while the bear was approaching, the last striking under the eye and penetrating the brain; but none too soon, for the brute literally fell at the feet of the brave hunter.”
Some eleven years earlier, the Standard had reported “A Narrow escape. A close encounter with a monster cinnamon bear” in its Oct. 25, 1893 issue.
Ogden City Councilman A.I. Stone, Joseph Ririe, R.H. Froerer, George Froerer and David Johnson were climbing in the mountains west of Huntsville, where a bear had been sighted earlier in the week.
They spotted the huge bruin and commenced shooting at it, amidst thick brush. It got within six feet of the men, before falling. It weighed 258 pounds and was put on display in Ogden. The men believed it would have killed one or more of them, had it not been brought down.

-In separate historical note, Carla Vogel of Ogden, 82, said in the early 1940s she recalls finding an old distillery, not anywhere near 25th Street, but on the land that is today’s Mount Ogden Junior High School.
About 100 feet up from 32nd Street, she and a Polk School classmate were digging around the area and discovered this great underground room.
“It was full of barrels, buckets, wood stoves,” she said.
Even at elementary school age, she said they knew what it was, though they never told anyone about it at the time.
Vogel said she later rode horses all around the east bench area of Ogden. She moved away in 1953 and Mount Ogden Junior opened in 1958.
“They probably didn’t know it was there,” she said of the still and the school builders. She’s convinced it was left over from the Prohibition of the 1920s and today is located under grass of the playing fields behind the school.

               The old St. Benedict's Hospital today, senior housing.

-Vogel also said she recalls her father saying the eventual site of St. Benedict’s Hospital (top of 30th Street) was the specific place where the Clark Family wanted the LDS Church to build an Ogden Temple back in 1921. That was the top of a hill above Harrison Avenue on land the Clarks were going to give the LDS Church, if it would construct an Ogden Temple there. (News reports of 1921 had stated the land donation address as 30th Street and Tyler Avenue, at the base of the hill and perhaps the last developed eastward street at the time.)
The Church declined the donation and it would be another 50 years before Ogden received a temple.

(Written by Lynn Arave and published on-line and in print by the Ogden Standard-Examiner on Nov. 6-7, 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: