Thursday, April 30, 2015

Chinatown: Remote geological wonder of Morgan County

                   Morgan County's own remote Chinatown formation.

STRICTLY speaking dictionary-wise, “Chinatown” is any non-Chinese area that is dominated by residents of Chinese origin. However, the Top of Utah boasts a natural feature in Morgan County, “Chinatown,” that’s located about 10 miles northeast of Henefer, Summit County.
It contains “strange rock formations and colors of much scenic value,” according to an Oct. 13, 1931 report in Ogden Standard-Examiner. That article was headlined, “Scenic route fund desired.”
O.A. Taylor of Brigham City had interest in a coal mine in that area, but also believed Chinatown was a desirable tourist attraction. His plan never materialized.
Some six months later, a Standard story from Feb. 2, 1932 stated that both the Morgan and the Ogden Lions clubs supported a scenic highway to Chinatown through Toone Canyon, off Lost Creek Road.
Ogden Mayor Ora Bundy said in that story that Chinatown rivaled the scenery of Southern Utah. He also favored a loop road, so that Ogden Valley could be reached from the Morgan County side.
The Richfield Reaper newspaper of June 19, 1930 called Chinatown, “a fascinating curiosity shop of mother nature.” It stated some of the rock formations were named: Japanese Teapot, Alligator Rock, 11 Apostles, Sea Rock, Yellow Dike, Twin Elephants, Big Elephant and Newfoundland Dog.
Red Ridge and Totem Pole were two other formations in nearby Toone Canyon.
A June 14, 1936 article in the Salt Lake Tribune referred to Chinatown as a “geological wonder.” It stated that “Hidden Towers” had been an early nickname for the area.
“About 12 miles northeast of Devil’s Slide is a natural curiosity known as ‘Chinatown.’ It is a miniature Bryce Canyon with many shades of rock …” a Jan. 30, 1938 report in the Standard stated.
Chinatown then faded into obscurity for another 27 years until an editorial in the Nov. 19, 1965 Standard heralded it again.
“The eroded cliffs of Morgan’s ‘Chinatown’ closely resemble the famed earthen spires and pinnacles of Bryce Canyon National Park,” the editorial stated. It urged a three-man committee in Morgan to find a way to open it to the public.
According to Fred Ulrich, the Morgan High School LDS Seminary used to sponsor an annual spring hike to Chinatown, at least into the late 1940s.
Croydon highlighted Chinatown's scenic value and encouraged visitors there as recently as the early 1960s.
However, to this day, Chinatown remains on closed private land and is unavailable to the public.
-I was lucky enough to secure permission to visit Chinatown back in 1990. Then, it required some eight miles of mountain bicycling and about six hiking miles with a 2,000-plus foot climb to access Chinatown, located near the Morgan-Summit County line, overlooking I-84.
I had to pass through four locked gates and multiple private tracts of land to reach the 13-acre site at a 7,800-foot elevation.
 Chinatown appeared more like a miniature Cedar Breaks, than a section of Bryce Canyon. It certainly seemed out of place and more typical of Southern Utah scenery, with 200- to 300-foot-tall eroded red pinnacles, amid a background of quaking aspens and evergreens.
Chinatown received its name because its formations reminded pioneer visitors of Chinese pagodas - pyramidal towers several stories high. Some other formations are shaped more like Indian totem poles.
There was also a lot of conglomerate rock in the area. Several miles north of Chinatown were separate sections of unusual rock that were more reminiscent of Idaho’s City of Rocks and even Zion National Park.
Yes, Chinatown and the greater area are at least worthy of Utah State Park status, but that concept likely isn’t favored by the area land owners. Indeed, half of Chinatown’s attraction is its isolation and solitude, two assets that would surely vanish forever with widespread public access.
 (-Originally published on-line and in print by Lynn Arave in the Ogden Standard-Examiner, April 30-May 1, 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, April 23, 2015

When I-15 almost took a different path in Davis and Weber counties

                            Looking down on a section of Highway 89 in Layton in 2015.

By Lynn Arave

Imagine a mountain hugging Interstate-15 in North Davis County and Southern Weber County.
I-15 from Farmington to Ogden almost went a different route – Highway 89, instead of today’s western route, near Highway 91.
The Ogden Chamber of Commerce had pushed hard for the Highway 89 freeway option. After all, that offered the most direct access to Ogden City and Weber State College.
However, an independent study revealed that it would be far more costly to build I-15 along the Highway 89 corridor. Also, the western route option offered more direct access to the military installations in the Top of Utah.
And, once a Highway 89 aligned freeway reached Ogden, where would it go northward from there, without impacting large sections of homes and businesses?
According to Glen M. Leonard in his book, “A History of Davis County,” The Federal Interstate Highway Act of 1956 expanded federal subsidies for major state highways and meant Washington paid 95 percent of the costs of such superhighways. So, it wasn’t “if” freeways would be built in Utah, it was just “when.”
Leonard’s book states that increased traffic between Salt Lake City and Ogden is why the Utah State Road Commission chose a six-mile section in south Davis County to be Utah's first highway built to interstate standards.
“In a ceremony in North Salt Lake in January 1958, Governor George D. Clyde launched the project by driving a bulldozer into Amasa Howard's ninety-year-old dairy barn to clear a route for the new $7.3-million segment,” Leonard wrote. “Utah's first section of six-lane divided interstate highway reached north to Pages Lane and was completed in 1962.”
However, original plans did not include any interchanges between Farmington and Bountiful. Centerville had to lobby to eventually gain its own freeway access.
Bids for constructing I-15 in the Ogden area opened in 1963, split into several segments.
After three years work, I-15 from south Layton to Ogden opened on Nov. 23, 1966. A huge advantage with this section meant that Main Street (Highway 91) would no longer be so congested with commuters during shift changes at Hill Air Force Base.

                              I-15 in Layton.

The I-15 route north of Layton often followed the abandoned Bamberger Railroad route.
On Dec. 12, 1976, the section of I-15 from the Box Elder-Weber County line to Perry was completed after more than four years of work. This meant I-15 was now continuous from Layton to southern Box Elder County.
However, the Lagoon to Layton section of the interstate was the last section finished in the Ogden area.
The widening and resurfacing of the existing section of Highway 91 from Layton to Lagoon was not open until 1977 through a $10 million project. This finally meant uninterrupted freeway travel existed between Juab County on the south and Box Elder County on the north. Future projects would expand the freeway both north and south.
Leonard also noted that I-15 in Davis County produced a housing boom too.
“The communities along the freeway's route rightly envisioned a new incentive for growth,” Leonard wrote. “Interstate 15 made the greatest difference in the Centerville, Farmington, and Kaysville areas, which had lagged behind other parts of the county because of their distance from both Ogden and Salt Lake City.”
He continued: “Also, as in the Syracuse region, a stable agricultural population existed in the central core. Small subdivisions began appearing in these central cities about the time the interstate began reaching into the county from the south. Suburban sprawl brought the first, small subdivision to Syracuse in that same decade.”
Utahns probably take I-15 for granted today, but inter-city travel in the Top of Utah wasn’t nearly as quick or convenient before the freeway came along.

(-Originally published on-line and in print in the Ogden Standard-Examiner, by Lynn Arave, on April 23-24, 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, April 16, 2015

The Mountain Green Indian battle that never happened …

DID you ever hear about the Mountain Green Indian battle of 1862?
No, because it didn’t happen, though it could have.
According to a story in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on July 20, 1916, all the men of the Morgan Valley were absent and busy in Uintah, with the Morrisite War (June 13-15, 1862).
Some of the nearby Indians became bold after quickly realizing that the men of the area were gone. So, they began feeding their horses in the settlers’ field and demanded food from the area homes in Mountain Green. They also took chickens, pigs and calves.
According to recollections by Mary R. Jessop, about age 62 in 1916, and on which the newspaper account is based, it became a very fearful situation for the women and children in the area.
“We had hoped that soldiers would be sent to protect us,” Jessop recalled. “But instead Bishop Chauncey West of Ogden sent up six wagon loads of provisions and some six head of cattle as a present to the Indians. At once there was a change. The Indians killed the cattle and had a great feast. After that they were very quiet and friendly. That was the favorite method of the pioneers in dealing with the Indians. It was found to be cheaper to feed them than to fight them.”
That’s how an Indian was avoided in Mountain Green.
Yet, Jessop said a year or two later in Ogden Valley there was a battle between Cheyenne and Shoshone Indians, southwest of Huntsville, with many Indian casualties – and no settler involvement.

                        Today's Lucin Cutoff, as viewed from Fremont Island.

More historical notes:
-“To reduce lake area” was a Dec. 16, 1903 Standard headline. With the Lucin Cutoff being finished then, the idea was being explored to use the Cutoff as a dam, to allow the north end of the lake to totally disappear, replaced by a desert.
It was speculated that such a dam could raise the south arm of the lake up to six feet, at a time when some lake resorts had been left high and dry by a receding lake.
Still, the story urged caution because if the GSL totally dried up, it could ruin the local climate and raising certain crops in the area might then be impossible.
-Almost 11 years later, on July 11, 1914, a Standard headline was “Large fresh water lake near Ogden.”
This story stated the north arm of the Great Salt Lake was being made fresh by the Lucin Cutoff and some fish were reported thriving in portions. The possibility of planting fish was being explored.
There were also reports then of carp swimming southward in the north arm of the lake, only to be blinded by the briny waters they encountered. The carp would then swim to the surface, where they were easy prey for seagulls, or they died and washed up on a lake shore.
However, in 1959, a solid fill railroad causeway was constructed across the lake. With this “dam,” salinity then soared in the north arm. Today, salinity averages about 26-28 percent in the north arm and only about 13 percent in the south arm of the lake.

 (-Originally published on-line and in print on April 16-17, 2015, by Lynn Arave 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, April 9, 2015

Ogden's Waterfall Canyon: Deadly scenic beauty and more

            The 125-foot falls, not so impressive in the spring of 2015, thanks to a drought.

By Lynn Arave

OGDEN'S Waterfall Canyon is as deadly as it is beautiful.
Over the decades, more people have likely been killed, or injured there than any other canyon in the Ogden area.
There’s the infamous triple tragedy of Dec. 26, 1962, when three youngsters – all under age 10 – fell off rock ledges just south of the falls and plunged to their deaths.

But there were other accidents there too.
-“Boy, 14, plunges from top of Waterfall Canyon” was a May 16, 1941 headline in the Standard-Examiner.
Leland Oxnam, a student from Washington School, was climbing on rocks directly above the falls, when he slipped and was killed. He was with two other classmates at the time.

                           More a cascade than waterfall in 2015.

-Kimball Vaughn, 25, of Ogden, died in an Ogden hospital on April 24, 1939, from injuries sustained two days prior from a 50-foot fall in Waterfall Canyon.

       The rocks around and above the waterfall are a dangerous magnet to amateur climbers.

-Andrew Cooper, 17, of Ogden, was found dead in the water at the base of the waterfall on April 23, 1974, after a fall from a top the rocks. He was alone at the time.

 There were also lucky survivors from accidents too:

-On Aug. 6, 1883, some boys found a strange metal capsule inside the canyon. It turned out to be an explosive device and went off when one of the boys shook it. His hands were mutilated and he lost two fingers. The other boys suffered face and head wounds.

-David Melvin, 16, fell 30 feet off a cliff in the canyon in April of 1895. He somehow was only bruised.

-“Eludes a rattlesnake, but breaks a leg” was a Aug. 13, 1910 headline in the Salt Lake Herald. “Preferring to take the chance of jumping from a thirty-foot cliff in Waterfall Canyon, than being bitten by a rattlesnake, Fred Craner, 19, today, suffered a severe fracture of his left leg,” the story reported.
The man said the rattler was coiled and ready to strike behind him when he chose leaping to a pile of boulders below instead.

     Now you can no longer legally climb above the waterfall, with a posted no trespassing sign and a steel cable in place to block the way of the traditional route, a draw southeast of the waterfall..

-“Binks ‘comes back’ after fall to death” was a Nov. 14, 1910 headline in the Salt Lake Herald. William Sawyer of Ogden claimed his bull terrier, “Brinks,” had fallen some 200 feet off a cliff while hunting  in Waterfall Canyon. Sawyer said it took hours to climb down to where the mangled animal was and he buried it there, as best he could.
Two weeks later, the dog somehow amazingly came through his family’s gate, collapsing lean and hungry on the doorstep. The family nursed the dog back to health, but could not find a single broken bone. He ate enormous amounts of food, but the family and neighborhood considered it a miracle.

                      The trail at the mouth of Ogden's Waterfall Canyon.

-"Climber rescued after 23 hours on death perch" was an Aug. 3, 1925 newspaper headline. Louis Buswell, 28, became stranded on the cliffs near the waterfall and rescuers needed 300 feet of rope to haul him off a cliff face.

                          Hikers enjoy the limited waterfall flow in the spring of 2015. 

-On May 28, 1958, Larry Smith, 14, fell more almost 100 feet from the rocks around the falls and was severely injured. 
He was climbing the face of the falls freehand. He was near the falls about three fourths of the way up when he waved to us girls and then fell.
He and some friends had skipped school that day with parents permission except, Larry.
Three friends ran to the nearest place which was the St Benedict hospital. They called for help. The friends all hiked back most of the way and rescuers it from there. They took him to the Dee hospital. He was there a long  long time. He was paralyzed for months. After years, he learned to walk with a crutch dragging his feet. He now owns an archery place south of Salt Lake.

 (-Originally published on-line and in print, April 9-10. 20-15 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:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

1909: LDS General Conference ‘too large’ and needs divided?

                  Inside the historic LDS Tabernacle on Temple Square.

“Conference has grown too large” was a Sept. 16, 1909 headline of an editorial in the Standard-Examiner.
This story stated that General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “has grown to such large proportions that the Tabernacle and Assembly Hall in Salt Lake City are too small to accommodate the crowds that gather there for their special uplift.”
As a result, this editorial suggested that “With proper representation, we decline to the idea that President Smith can be made to see the wisdom of discontinuing this Salt Lake conference of the entire church and may be persuaded to next year call for a division of the conference.”
This Standard editorial was suggesting that besides a Salt Lake conference, two similar ones for their areas be created and held in Ogden or Logan in the north and Provo or Manti in the South.
This would not only alleviate overcrowding, since many can no longer find a seat at the Salt Lake conference, but would also mean that other businesses in Utah would gain from the economic benefit of conference goers.
As it is, Salt Lake and the railroad receive too much of the surplus wealth of those attending conference.
Of course none of that proposal happened and eventually microphones, speaker systems, radio, TV, satellites and the massive Conference Center meant that just about any LDS Church member could listen to, or see conferences of the church.
Other historical tidbits:
-“Conference rush has begun” was a Standard headline six months earlier, on April 4, 1909. This story reported that eight train coaches came to Ogden from Malad, Idaho, filled with conference hopefuls.
“One coach was filled with Mormon Indians, who evinced deep interest in conference proceedings.”
A six-coach train had also rolled through Ogden from Cache Valley and another train was due from Coalville.
-“Mormons told how to gain a temple” was a Sept. 22, 1927 Standard headline.
Commemorating the anniversary of the Golden Plates, a vast gathering of LDS Church members had gathered in the Ogden Tabernacle to hear Elder Melvin J. Ballard, apostle.
“Interest in temple work is the thing that will bring a temple to Ogden, and not the mere asking for it,” Elder Ballard stressed. He had commended local members for their strong interest in temple work.
Many church members were turned away from the meeting, not being able to find a seat inside the Tabernacle.
-“Facts and figures” on Weber County were provided in an April 20, 1912 Standard article.
There were 25,580 county residents and 40,000 acres of irrigated land back then, valued at an average of $200 per acre. There were two cement plants, one sugar beet factory, five candy factories, five flour mills, two pickle factories, one meat packing plant, seven banks, 15 hotels, six theaters, one brewery and three broom factories in 1912 Weber County.

               The historic Clinton meetinghouse today, a business property.

-“Rejoicing at Clinton Friday” was a Feb. 27, 1911 Standard headline. The story stated that the new Clinton LDS Ward meetinghouse was finished and featured a grand banquet on Friday, Feb. 24, to commemorate the occasion.
The building had cost $15,000 “and is a credit to any community and a building that the people with their bishop, O.D. Hadlock may well be proud of.”
President Joseph F. Smith and President John Henry Smith of the First Presidency attended the banquet. A dance in the hall followed the dinner.
-Today, that Clinton building is still around and in excellent condition. However, it is no longer and LDS Church meetinghouse and was for sale recently for possible business use.

(-Originally published on April 2-3, 2015 on-line and in print 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: