Thursday, March 26, 2015

Much ado about misdemeanors in 1902 Ogden

  Driving a train more than 8 mph, or without continuous bells was a misdemeanor in 1902 Ogden.

THERE was a big fuss in the Ogden area during early 1902 over the committing of misdemeanor crimes.
Here are some of the misdemeanors that existed in Ogden City back then, according to a Standard-Examiner article from Feb. 24, 1902:
-To drive a horse fast.
-To run a locomotive or train in Ogden over 8 mph.
-To run a locomotive in the inhabited part of Ogden City without continuously ringing the bell.
-To ride a bicycle on certain sidewalks, or to ride bicycle without a lamp.
-To spit on the sidewalk.
-To slap a man or boy.
-To threaten a man or woman.
-To get drunk.
-To carry a concealed weapon.
-To place a sign on the sidewalk.
-To throw a piece of old meat or decayed vegetable or fruit on your own or neighbor’s lot, or in the street.
-To tack a card on a telegraph pole.
-To shoot or kill quail in Ogden City.
-To have a pig pen, cow stable or dairy within the limits of Ogden City.

                It was illegal to walk on the grass in any park in Ogden City in 1902.

-To walk on the grass of the city parks.
-To cut a flower, branch or twig from any shrubbery or trees in any city park.
-To have the measles, chickenpox or whooping cough in your house and fail to notify the health board.
-To take a newspaper from your neighbor’s lawn.
-To shake hands with the cook on duty at the Ogden Pest House (or “Fever House,” where those with communicable diseases used to be put).
That last misdemeanor was what Ogden Mayor William Glassman (also the Standard-Examiner owner/publisher) was cited for and fined $10 (more than $239 in today’s values) a few weeks before the 1902 story was printed. This set off a public clamor of how serious a misdemeanor was.
“A misdemeanor is the smallest possible violation of any law,” the Standard article stated. It also said that “probably no man lives to the age of 21 years without having been guilty of a misdemeanor.”
The story also stated that no person, even the Governor of Utah, hadn’t committed some misdemeanors over the years.
The Standard pointed out that Utah Governor Heber Wells had spit on the sidewalk recently when he visited Ogden. Although not cited, he was technically guilty of a misdemeanor.
-In another historical tidbit: “Trout swim in Ogden gutters; Tourist agents please notice” was a June 24, 1915 headline in the Standard.
Earl Carver, a young family member of the J.S. Carver Grocery Store, caught a three-quarter-pound trout swimming in the gutter in front of the store. He didn’t need a hook, or pole, but did show a fishing license to keep his prize.
The story also reported that rumors were that other trout were found and caught in the gutter on eastern 24th Street. The screens at the head of the canal in the foothills were also going to be inspected.

(-Originally published on-line and in print in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on March 27-27, 2015, 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, March 19, 2015

1920: When Brigham City was threatened by a ‘Devil’ and saved by a miracle

                                             The historic Brigham City Tabernacle.

“Brigham City threatened by flood from reservoir which may give way at any moment” was a May 10, 1920 headline in the Standard-Examiner.
However, this long story didn’t say exactly where this dam was, or even what its name was. That’s when it can be very helpful to often rely on more than one source of information.
A personal history account on, written by the dam’s builder, A.K. Chatfield, revealed that the reservoir’s name was the “Devils Gate Dam” at Devil’s Gate Valley in the mountains south of Mantua (not to be confused with Weber Canyon’s separate Devil’s Gate). This history also corrects the Standard’s misspelling of Chatfield’s name, from “Chadfield,” though some of its year dates cited are obviously incorrect.
The history refers to the winter of 1918 as when the “catastrophe” happened, although it has to be the winter of 1919-1920 based on both the Standard article and weather records.

                The area just southwest of Devil's Gate, Box Elder County.         Photo by Liz Hazen

Back to the flood tale details: Heavy spring storms had caved in a 300-foot long tunnel that was used to operate the gates of the 20-foot-deep dam. (A scarcity of metal piping during World War I had meant such pipes were not available when the dam was created.)
Due to storms and snowmelt, the dam’s water level had raised three feet in 24 hours and was now within three inches from the top of the 90-foot-high earthen dam, built on 90 acres a few years earlier at a cost of about $65,000. The dam drained into Box Elder Creek and was just below a portion of today’s dirt road to Willard Basin.
An army of 50 men were working at the dam to try and release some of the water along an old roadway. But, their efforts had little effect.
“Should the water break loose from the dam the residents of North Brigham City would be in danger of being completely washed out …” the Standard story stated.

                    The rugged road to Willard Basin, south of Devil's Gate.

According to Chatfield’s history, he “ultimately attested and expressed a petition to the Almighty to provide any and all means necessary to avoid the impending catastrophe.”
Soon after, the water level was dropping quickly for no apparent reason. Later, Chatfield heard a bathtub-like draining sound and it was soon discovered that all the water –1,600-acre feet – had drained underground in automobile size holes.
Chatfield maintained that none of the reservoir’s water was ever found above the surface and that this was simply a divine miracle of intervention.
In a May 10, 1922 article in the Box Elder News, Chatfield referred to the dam as unfinished. He tried to calm public fears refilling the dam would create, but apparently it was never refilled or finished.
Additional source:
In other historical notes:
-“Will the City be submerged?” was a March 24, 1899 headline in the Standard.
Fears in Weber County were running high that spring that a rapid snowmelt from the heavy winter would flood fields particularly in Marriott, Slaterville and Plain City and also impede travel, as had previously happened in 1866.
History didn’t quite repeat itself and there wasn’t as much flooding in 1899, as in 1866. Still, 1899 was the worst recorded winter in the 19th Century for the Top of Utah.
-“A cemetery on the bench land” was a July 26, 1917 headline in the Standard. This editorial advocated that Ogden City should establish a new cemetery on the “bench land to the north of Ogden Canyon.” It stated that the gravel made for perfect drainage. Of course, this never happened.

(-Originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner by Lynn Arave on-line and in print on March 19-20, 2015.) 

-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, March 12, 2015

When the Brigham City Fire Department took a holiday …

“Firemen gone: Fire breaks out” was a June 27, 1912 headline in the Box Elder News.
“A big train load of firemen and their friends had hardly got beyond the city limits this morning bound for Lagoon, when a telephone call came for the department station that Andrew Holst’s barn in the First Ward was on fire,” the story stated.
The few firemen and a number of citizens responded as best they could to the Brigham City blaze, but the barn, a new wagon, two pigs and more were destroyed by the blaze.
Children playing with matches had started the fire.

-In other historical tidbits:

                  The Wasatch Mountains on the south end of Ogden.

-“Citizens indignant over fires destroying mountain beauty” was an Oct. 11, 1922 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
During the past few weeks that fall, several fires in the mountains, east of Ogden, had occurred. All were believed to be the result of campfires not properly extinguished by campers.
The Ogden Chamber was offering a $25 reward ($352 in today’s dollars) for the arrest and conviction of anyone starting those fires.
“Fires such as are burning in ‘Jump-Off’ Canyon in the mountain range north and east of the city hall will prevent that section from being reforested for at least 25 years to come,” the story stated.
Indeed, that fire in Jump-Off Canyon prompted an anonymous resident, “A. Wasatcher,” to write a long editorial in the Standard on Oct. 29, 1922, as “A plea to save ‘Jumpoff’  for hikers.”
The writer not only expressed concern about the fires, but also regarding the encroachment of the automobile on forested area.
“Why not reserve one place for just plain pedestrians, people who like to exercise their legs as well as their feet,” they wrote.

                                      Malan's Peak today.

-And, there were more than fires and autos in the Wasatch Mountains east of Ogden during the 1920s.
“Still found as deputies trail miners” was a June 22, 1922 Standard headline.  Authorities arrested one man and were searching for another who had a large still and stash of alcohol in a box canyon that branched off Ogden Canyon.
Four deputy sheriffs had to stage an all-night vigil to catch the still being operated.
-Finally, Harry Anderson, an Ogden resident actually wanted motorized development east of the city. In a March 13, 1924 Standard story, he asked the Ogden Lions Club to support creating an auto road from 29th Street up Waterfall Canyon and a separate railway to Mount Ogden.
Anderson, a local advertising man, said he believed cottages and a hotel were feasible in Malan’s Basin, as they had been decades before. “Malan Heights,” a tourist’s delight was his vision.

(-Originally published on-line and in print in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on March 12-13, 2015, 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, March 5, 2015

1894: Ogden’s first recorded earthquake

               --From the book, "History of Ogden, Utah in Old Post Cards," by D. Boyd Crawford.

By Lynn Arave

THE Ogden area suffered in 1894 what was likely the first recorded earthquake since the pioneer settlers had arrived.
“Earthquake” was the simple headline in the Standard-Examiner the afternoon after the quake, on July 18, 1894.
At the tithing office the shock was felt quite strong, some light articles being tipped from the shelves,” The Standard reported. “At the Reed Hotel the shock was also quite strong. At the county court house the people rushed out of their offices in amazement. At the Utah Loan & Trust building the walls cracked like a pistol shot. In A. R. Heywood's office the lamp swayed back and forth from the shock. In other parts of town the shock produced considerable alarm.”
Seismologists later estimated that was a 5.0 quake.
Here’s a listing of other significant Ogden area earthquakes:
-There was also a small quake in Ogden in 1907 that University of Utah instruments measured, but was not felt by humans.
-Next, on April 8, 1914, “Earthquake caused mild excitement in this city,” was the headline in the Standard. “Shock felt as far north at Plain City and south to Farmington – Dishes rattle and rumbling noise is heard – Huntsville in the seismic zone – Rock slide occurs in South Fork Canyon.”
The shock lasted several seconds, but was not felt in Salt Lake City. There were no estimates for that quake intensity.
-Then, just over a month afterward, another quake, a strong one – with two jolts, three minutes apart -- struck Ogden on May 13, 1914:
“Earthquake shocks cause excitement throughout the city,” was the Standard headline that day.
“Near panic in many of the schools when buildings begin to fall – Children scream – Windows broken and plaster falls – Man with an incubator loses his eggs – Quake felt in Salt Lake,” the story continued.
Structurally, there was no major damage and quake was at  a 5.5-6.0 intensity.
(-Ironically, also on an April 8, but in 1911, a Standard headline had stated: “Earthquake to swallow Zion.” This story focused on a Utah Academy of Science professor who said two massive quakes had struck the Wasatch Front in prehistoric times, causing the ground to sink 20 to 50 feet in places.)
-“Earthquakes shake mountain area,” was a March 12, 1934 headline in the Standard. “Death comes to Ogden woman as house trembles; Much Excitement But Little Damage Follows Series Of Temblors; Buildings Sway, Light Fixtures Swing And Some Plaster Loosened,” the story continued.
This Hansel Valley quake, centered in Box Elder County, was estimated at 6.6 intensity. Railroad cars at the Ogden yard also shook violently and many clocks stopped.

                         Ogden's old City and County Building.

-The Aug. 17,1959 Yellowstone Earthquake (7.1 intensity) was also felt in the Ogden area.
-And, the Pocatello Valley Quake (6.0 intensity) of March 27, 1975 was felt in Weber County and most of the Top of Utah.

-BONUS MATERIAL NOT IN THE NEWSPAPER ACCOUNT: A magnitude 6.9 quake struck the San Francisco Bay area on the afternoon of Oct. 17, 1989, causing $5 billion in damages and killing 67 people. 
This was often called the World Series quake, since it struck during the pre-game of that event.
I was likely the ONLY person in the Intermountain area who saw effects of that quake (outside of anyone looking at a seismograph) -- despite the fact I was at least 600 air miles away in Layton, Utah.
What happened was that was the only season I kept my in-ground, 18,600-gallon swimming pool heated and open that late in the season.
Being a sunny and calm day, my pool was uncovered when the quake struck in San Francisco. I'm in the kitchen and hear splashing. I look out the window to the pool and see 3 to 4 foot waves splashing over the sides of the cement deck. Curious, because it is not windy and no one is in or around the pool.
After 20-30 seconds, the waves just stop. Humans felt nothing in Utah from this California quake.
About 20 minutes later, I turn the evening news on and realize there had to be a connection with what I saw happen strangely in my pool and that quake.
Weeks later, I talked to a Utah Seismologist and he said the fact my pool was uncovered and there was no wind meant the water had surface tension. Those seismic waves, though not felt by humans, traveled the 600 or so miles and broke that surface tension, getting the water to move like a bowl of Jello shaking. 
In essence, I had a crude earthquake detector that day and it worked.

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