Thursday, May 7, 2015

The former hobo ‘jungle’ around Ogden

“HOBOES are caught in the jungles” was a June 13, 1911 headline in the Standard-Examiner.
This was NOT an international story. It was about Weber County some 104 years ago.
In 1911, the Ogden area had a so-called “jungle district” in the Wilson Lane area, west of town, full of what the story described as “undesirable visitors” (or hoboes).
This story stated that these weren’t hardened criminals, but at night some of them would raid chicken coops and gardens in the area.
Some of the hoboes then got arrested and her put on chain gangs which repaired roads in the county.
“The sheriff is of the opinion that the road work will have something to do with eliminating the hobo from the city,” the story stated.
Apart from hoboes, in 1911, the Standard also often referred to the Wilson Lane area as its own separate community of homes, in the same sense as Riverdale, Hooper or North Ogden.
In other historical tidbits:
-“Wild girl of the woods is found,” was an Aug. 11, 1905 Standard headline. “Is arrested with three boys in the brush. Was living like an animal. Was half clothed and tells disconnected story.”
Grace Witcherily, a young girl, was found by police along the Weber River, west of town. She said she had been led after a circus in town. Men working on the Sand Ridge Cutoff, likely in the area of today’s west 30-31st Streets, had provided her some food and clothing.
It was believed her mother was in Salt Lake City and efforts were made to find her.

                  Summit of Ensign Peak, north of Salt Lake City

-Ensign Peak, straight north of downtown Salt Lake City, is one of Utah’s most historic mountains. It was perhaps the first mountain climbed by the Mormon Pioneers after their arrival. An Aug. 9, 1908 story in the Salt Lake Herald talked about plans to develop Peak as a park.
The story also mentioned that on the left side of the Peak was “The Cave,” or “Cave Comfort” as it was called. It also said “Tally Ho Ridge” was located right behind the Peak and it led to higher mountain tops.
It also said there was once “Maiden Falls” was located in one the hollows around the Peak. However, that feature was destroyed by vandals. “Rain Cave” was also located nearby and was graced by same spring water.
Far below Ensign Peak was what was called “The Narrows,” a gully with a large sand pit. In that era, cattle roamed the area, north of where the State Capitol Building would open in 1916.
The story mentioned the great views of the valley from the mound-shaped peak, which was about 1,000 feet above the valley floor. Brigham Young was the first to talk of a possible park being made there. However, it would not be until 1996 that a park was finally established there, complete with a set trail to the 5,414-foot above sea level summit.

(-Originally published on-line and in-print in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on May 7-8, 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:

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