Thursday, February 5, 2015

1890s: When living west of the tracks in Weber County was a pain

     Aerial photo showing the vast width of the Ogden railyards, circa 1950s, looking northward.

 “CROSSING the tracks” was a big deal in 1890 West Ogden.
“Be careful how you drive, Gentlemen from out of town,” the Standard-Examiner of Dec. 16, 1890 reported.
People from Hooper, West Weber, Kanesville and Wilson all used 24th Street to enter Ogden and the large train yard was considered a “blockade.”

The Standard reported that some 40 teams of horses and wagons had to wait for at least 30 minutes that day prior before trains moved out of the way.
“It is a common occurrence,” C.C. Wilson of Kanesville said of tracks blocking 24th Street.
An estimated population of 2,500 people lived west of Ogden in 1890 and the word “viaduct” was now viewed as the only future solution.
(However, such a viaduct on 24th Street would not open until 1910, two decades later.)
-Speaking of roads, “State aroused as ‘Death Road’ claims two more lives” was a Dec. 8, 1947 headline in the Salt Lake Telegram.
The strip of State Highway 91 in Davis County, between North Salt Lake and the north end of Farmington , had claimed 28 people that year in traffic accidents, far more fatalities than anywhere else in the state.
“Strip of Death” was another nickname for that stretch of highway, with speed limits of up to 50 mph.
Highway officials planned to study the section of busy road and make safety improvements. However, if would not be for almost 20 years, until I-15 was constructed in that area, that the road became much safer for motorists.
In other historical tidbits:
-“Gorilla at large” was a Sept. 16, 1887 headline in the Standard. A gorilla from a circus at Union Square had gotten loose just after dark and disappeared.
Men were reported running around with torches, peering into yards and over fences, trying to find the animal at a late hour.
Two days later, on Sept. 18, the Standard reported that the gorilla had eventually been found, happily eating at a bakery on the lower side of town.
-“Law may pursue the Ogden girl with the hobble skirt” was a Jan.  17, 1914 Standard headline.
An Ogden Judge, V.C. Gunnell of the juvenile court, had started a campaign against girls and young women wearing hobble skirts.
"It is a common thing " the Judge said, "to see young girls trying to get over ice or through snow and mud where so ridiculously hobbled as to make them objects of pity as well as ridiculous."
He had noticed nearly every day, while going to and from his home, school girls trying to get to the high school from Washington Avenue, with their legs dangerously and evidently painfully bound and made nearly useless by tight skirts.
The Judge favored shorter, more nicely fitting dresses.

 (-Originally published on-line and in print on Feb. 5-6, 2015 in the Ogden Standard-Examiner, 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:  


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