Thursday, June 25, 2015

When the “Devil” was finally conquered in Weber Canyon

  An alcove, all that's left of Devil's Gate today in Weber Canyon,    Photo by Whitney Arave

THE bugaboo of Devil’s Gate in lower Weber Canyon plagued travelers for well over a century.
The single geological feature of Devil’s Gate is what detoured the 1847 Mormon Pioneers through Emigration Canyon, instead of lower Weber Canyon.
Narrow, curvy and sometimes called “Scrambled Egg Curve” in the mid-20th Century for all the overturned trucks, it wasn’t until the freeway came along that the “Devil” was finally conquered.
In 1966, the freeway finally opened through Devils Gate and Weber Canyon. That section of freeway in the lower canyon cost $3.5 million. 1 million cubic yards of material were removed from Peterson to Gateway in Weber Canyon.
The Standard-Examiner of May 22, 1964 stated there were great advantages to eliminating the horseshoe bend at Devil’s Gate.

                      The I-84 freeway bridge span, east of Devil's Gate today.

“A huge overpass at the Devil’s Gate curve was built over the Union Pacific tracks in order to eliminate the treacherous curve,” the Standard of Feb. 26, 1965 reported.
“The river, railroad and highway squeak through the practically vertical cliffs at Devil’s Gate,” the Salt Lake Tribune of May 26, 1965 reported.
All 63 miles of freeway, I-80, from Uintah to Wyoming were open by late 1967.
(Note: There is at least one other "Devils Gate" in Utah. There is another feature with the name found in the extreme northwest corner of the state, in the Grouse Creek area.)
More historical tidbits:
-“Fined for riding on the sidewalks” was a July 6, 1917 headline in the Standard.
Back then, violators to Ogden City ordinance who rode their bicycles on city sidewalks were fined $2.
“It is the aim of the court to break up this practice as soon as possible and every person found riding on the sidewalk will be brought to court,” the story stated.
According to the Standard on April 5, 1910, all sidewalks were then made off limits to bikes, not just certain ones. This law also included motorcycles and even tricycles. Motorcycles were also henceforth required to carry a gong and headlight, to warn others of their approach.
And, the same law meant that cafes and saloons then had to be separate – without connecting doors – or face closure. Each cafĂ©-saloon had two weeks time to remodel, or lose their saloon license.
-The same 1917 story also reported that a man was fined $5 for driving at a reckless speed in his Ford delivery truck, with nine girls as passengers.
-Bicycles had been a controversial form of travel, even in late 19th Century Ogden. “License the bicycle” was a Feb. 7, 1897 editorial in the Standard.
At that time, some 1,000 bicycles (“wheels”) were estimated to exist in Ogden and for a proposed $1 a year license, many road improvements could be done.
-“Kept pigs near his home and is arrested” was a June 1, 1915 Standard headline.
The owner of a fruit and commission store at 2227 Washington Avenue pleaded guilty to charge of maintaining a nuisance – having a number of pigs at the rear of his property. The Italian man said he never intended to keep the pigs long, but a prospective sale of the swine had fallen through.

(-Originally published on-line and in print in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on June 25-26 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, June 18, 2015

Malan’s Basin almost rose to new heights several times

                              Malan's Basin today, just clearing in the trees.

THE resort at Malan’s Heights in Malan’s Basin (weber County, east of Ogden, Utah) closed at the end of the 1904 summer season but plans were already underway to improve it.
“New resort planned. Electric line to Malan Heights, overlooking Ogden” was a May 31, 1905 headline in the 
Ogden Standard-Examiner. David Mattson, Weber County Clerk, had secured a one-year option on the land and then an option to purchase it.
Mattson wanted to improve the wagon road to the resort and eventually put a rail line in.
“Mr. Mattson is very enthusiastic over the proposition and states it is his intention to establish a hotel, dance halls, etc., on the heights and no pains will be spared to make the place attractive,” the Standard reported.
Those plans fell through.
By February of 1907, new plans were underway. Thomas Slight, a local artist, was painting a large picture of Malan’s Heights. It was to be given to engineers to design a cog railroad to Malan’s Basin and even a dam for a lake in the basin.

                    The spectacular view looking north from Malan's Peak.

“Cable to the clouds. Phil O’Mara and Associates to build to Observatory Peak,” was a March 12, 1907 Standard headline. Now, even more ambitious dreams of creating a cog railroad to “Observatory Peak” (today’s Mount Ogden) were made as the resort would be enlarged and known now as “Haven.”
“Will be no Resort at Malan Heights” was a June 30, 1907 Standard headline. “… there were too many obstacles in the way to procuring clear titles to the property” was cited as the reason for this plan’s failure.
In succeeding years, vandalism plagued the old resort’s property. From trespassing herds of sheep, who destroyed trees, to boys and men cutting down trees for Christmas sales/usage, a Dec. 20, 1910 Standard story stated up to 100 evergreen trees had been stolen on the private land and at least $1,000 in trees had been burned down.
“Electric sign on the Heights” was the next failed chapter in the resort, from the July 18, 1912 Standard. Ogdenite Gus Wright wanted the Ogden Publicity Bureau to put an “Ogden” sign, illuminated by electric light bulbs on Malan’s “Point” (today’s Malan’s Peak), to attract the attention of train travelers. That never happened.

                           Mount Ogden, 9,572 feet above sea level.

“Campers endangered by a gang at Malan’s” was a July 20, 1915 Standard headline. Some 50 picnickers in Malan’s Basin were terrorized by an unknown group of men who fired guns in all directions and eventually forced everyone else off the mountain.
“Notice to the public. We have leased Malan Heights for grazing purposes. Do not trespass. Hansen Livestock & Feeding Company,” was a June 4, 1918 advertisement in the Standard.
A May 22, 1923 Standard report mentioned a plan by William R. Miller to establish a pleasure resort in Malan’s grove, complete with a 10-mile automobile road and railroad access. He now had a lease on 1,100 acres, with an option to buy from G.H. Malan. The July 4, 1923 Standard reported that Miller had a temporary store, food and refreshments for hikers available in Malan’s Basin – for that summer only.  Groups of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts also camped there that summer, but no permanent resort was ever realized.
On Sept. 13, 1925, the Young People’s Society of Ogden’s First Methodist/Episcopal Church held Sunday services at Malan’s Heights.
Another big fire on Sept. 5, 1927 destroyed anything left of wood in Malan’s Basin.

            Just a trail now, this was a narrow wagon road a century ago in Taylor Canyon.

Note: Jump to 2005-2006 and Chris Peterson purchased 1,140 acres in and around Malan’s Basin with hopes of a year-round resort featuring skiing and accessibility by a gondola. That modern day proposal didn’t work out either and sadly vandalism (tree carving, equipment destruction, littering) continues to plague this historic property.

(-Originally published on-line and in print, June 18-19, 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, June 11, 2015

Looking back at Malan’s Heights: ‘Copacabana of the West’

                                         Malan's Basin today.

By Lynn Arave

“Malan’s Heights. B. Malan has now completed a road to Waterfall Canyon and is prepared to accommodate any number of pleasure seekers,” The Standard-Examiner of Aug. 20, 1895 stated. “It is the best resort in Weber County. Rates for round trip $1 from end of Twenty-fifth street car line. Carriages leaving at 8 a.m.”
Of course this narrow wagon road, in the making since 1893, actually went up Taylor Canyon, to what would be known as Malan’s Peak and Malan’s Basin. Yet, in 1895, Waterfall Canyon was the likely only place in that area most Ogdenites knew, outside of the Malan Family.
Bartholomew Malan had secured rights to some 800 acres of mountain land in 1891 and constructed the road with the help of his sons. Some passengers were transported along the road a year earlier in 1894, but Malan didn’t advertise his resort until the next year.
There would soon be a two-story hotel, sawmill, seven cabins and a clubhouse, built, owned and operated by the Malan family on about 10 acres of land.
“2,000 feet above the city of Ogden and 6,500 feet above sea level up amongst the pines and loveliest of mountain breezes, so cool and refreshing, having just partaken of a good wholesome dinner, I am now sitting in one of the two-seated conveyances that brought four of us up a rocky serpentine road 2,000 feet and seven miles from the city,” Mrs. L.L. Rogers reported in her “Trip to Malan Heights” in the Aug. 29, 1895 Standard-Examiner.

Hard to see, but a rusty, 120-year-old water pipeline just coming above ground in Malan's Basin.

For $6 a week, visitors had lodging and meals. Individual meals cost from 35 to 50 cents. Fried chicken was the hotel specialty. As many as 100 patrons at a time visited there, though only a dozen at a time could eat in the small dining room of the hotel.
There’s little doubt hikers and runners would have no path there today, or at least a different route, if the Malan family hadn’t pioneered their wagon road.

                                                 Tree vandalism in Malan's Basin.

Malan’s Heights was a paradise by all reports. Some hailed it as “The Copacabana of the West.” However, a year later, 
“You must pay Ten cents toll” was an Aug. 9, 1896 Standard headline. Mr. Malan was forced to levy such a toll to each pedestrian using his road, because of vandalism. Some people purposely pulled rocks down on the road, or hurled stones down, endangering those below. A man was hired to collect the toll and perform upkeep on the road. (This brings to mind the current  vandalism in nearby Waterfall Canyon.)
A Standard report on June 5, 1899 stated, “The visitors exclaim they never saw anything like the mountain scenery of the Wasatch Range near Ogden.” Baseball, horseshoes, croquet and hiking up to “Observatory Peak” (later named Mount Ogden) were among the activities there.
After just a 10-year run, the resort closed for good at the end of the 1904 season, after Malan’s sons grew up and sought other employment.
By a report in the Salt Lake Tribune, most of what was left of the resort burned down on Nov. 8, 1910 in a forest fire caused by careless hunters. A Standard-Examiner report on Dec. 20, 1910 stated that almost all the resort buildings had been burned down by campers in the past two years.
The Malans had moved to 2720 Taylor Avenue, in Ogden and Mr. Malan died in 1913.

                      The old boiler still resting in Malan's Basin.

    An old wheeled chassis in Malan's Basin, presumably used to haul the boiler up the mountain.

(Note: This information is from old newspapers. Malan family history details may differ somewhat.)

-Originally published on-line and in print in the Ogden Standard Examiner on June 11-12, 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:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The legend of Utah’s “Bear Lake Monsters”

              Bear Lake is a high elevation lake in Utah and Idaho, that is 208 feet deep.

By Lynn Arave

DO you believe in sea monsters?
Utah and Idaho’s own rough equivalent of the Loch Nest Monster are the Bear Lake Monsters. (Yes, in the plural!)  They date back to Native American legends and were first reported by pioneer settlers in the summer of 1868 when one mass sighting included 10 different sea creatures at the same time.
“Monsters of Bear Lake” was an Aug. 5, 1868 headline in the Deseret News. Correspondence from Charles C. Rich, namesake of Rich County and LDS Church Apostle comprised this initial monster report, given almost five years after settlers first had arrived there. It included a sighting of 10 total different lake monsters at once.
This lake monster reference is highly significant, occurring 65 years even before the famed Loch Nest Monster became known world-wide (though some Loch sightings date back to the 7th Century).
“All lakes, caves and dens have their legendary histories,” Rich wrote. ”Tradition loves to throw her magic wand over beautiful dells and lakes, and people them with fairies, giants and monsters of various kinds. Bear Lake has also its own monster tale to tell, and when I have told it, I will leave you to judge whether or no (“not”) its merits are merely traditionary.”
Rich continued: “The Indians say there is a monster animal that lives in the Lake that has captured and carried away Indians while in the Lake swimming; but they say it has not been seen by them for many years, not since the buffalo inhabited the valley …”
Rich’s 1868 newspaper account continued:
“Since the settlement of this valley, several persons have reported seeing a huge animal of some kind that they could not describe; but such persons have generally been alone when they saw it, and but little credence has been attached to the monster, and until this summer the ‘monster question’ had about died out.”
“About three weeks ago (likely early July of 1868), Mr. S.M. Johnson, who lives in the east side of the lake at a place called South Eden (about half-way north along the Utah side of the lake), was going to the Round Valley settlement, six miles to the south of this place and when about half way he saw something in the lake, which at the time, he thought to be a drowned person …”
“He did not see the body, only the head and what he supposed to be part of the neck. It had ears or bunches on the side of its head nearly as large as a pint cup ....”
 Rich next wrote that the next day three women spotted a similar monster in the same place along the lake that was “very large and say it swam much faster than a horse could run on land.”
“These recent discoveries again revived the ‘monster question’” Rich reported. “Those who had seen it before brought in their claims anew, and many people began to think this story was not altogether moonshine.”
Rich then recounts more sightings:
“On Sunday last (July 19, 1868), N.C. Davis and Alan Davis of St. Charles and Thomas Slight and J. Collings of Paris with six women, were returning from Fish Haven, when about midway from the latter named place to St. Charles (all in today’s borders of Idaho), their attention was suddenly attracted to a peculiar motion or wave in the water, about three miles distant. The lake was not rough, only a little disturbed by a light wind. Mr. Slight says he distinctly saw the sides of a very large animal that he would suppose to not be less than ninety feet in length ….”
The 1868 report continued: “In a few minutes after the discovery of the first, a second one followed in its wake; but seemed to be much smaller, appearing to Mr. Slight about the size of a horse. A larger one followed this, and so one until four large ones, in all, and six small ones had run southward out of sight.”

                                   Bear Lake's north shore, looking southeast.

Then, in the D. News on June 1, 1870, Charles C. Rich reported that the Bear Lake Monster had been sighted once again. A young man, Marion Thomas and three sons of Phineas H. Cook were fishing in a boat on the lake near Swan Creek (just north of Garden City on the Utah and west side of the lake).
Thomas saw something.
 “He described his head as serpent shaped. He saw about twenty feet of its body, which was covered with hair or fur, something like a bitter, and light brown,” the newspaper report stated. “It had two flippers, extending from the upper part of the body, which he compared to the blades of his oars. He was so near it that if he had had a rifle he could have shot it.”
 “The Monsters” was an Aug. 20, 1870 headline in the Salt Lake Herald newspaper.“ Bishop Budge informs us the Bear lake Monster has been seen very frequently of late. Even the most skeptical are giving away,” the story stated. “One reliable gentleman saw three of them together recently.”
The Herald newspaper later recycled a story from the Corinne Journal newspaper that was later proven a hoax. The fake headline on July 9, 1871 was “Monster Captured.”
The Ogden Herald newspaper, forerunner to the Standard-Examiner, published its first tale of the Bear Lake Monster on Aug. 27, 1881. “A sucker for sheep” was the headline.
Initially stating it could not vouch for its “absolute correctness,” the story was that a sheep was killed, placed on some grappling hooks, attached to a rope and lowered near the shore into Bear Lake, in hopes of catching the Bear Lake Monster.
This report stated: “Some Indians watched the proceedings with evident interest, and after the bait that the monster was expected to bite was thrown into the unsalted deep and the ambitious fishers had departed, the aboriginal individuals hauled in the line, denuded the hooks of the mutton, and substituted therefore the largest of the sucker species they could find. They were opposed to so much mutton being wasted on an unintelligent monster, while sensible humanity was longing for chops. Instead of the mysterious product of the placid Northern lake, the enterprising anglers succeeded in getting a sucker. ”
The Logan Leader newspaper of Sept. 2, 1881 reported that the “yarn” of the Bear Lake Monster had regenerated lately. By now tales of this monster had made their way in political jabbing, newspaper vs. newspaper squabbles and many jokes.

                         Bear Lake's southeast side at dusk.

The Utah (Logan) Journal newspaper on May 11, 1883 defined the Bear Lake Valley as “The Home of the Monster.” This story said that “quite a number of people really believe there is a large being living there.”
The account then told of a fishermen’s account from years earlier when they had a wagon full of fish on the shore. They spotted something large moving toward the shore at terrific speed. One of the men shot at it. It disappeared and then a few minutes later floated motionless to the surface. They paddled out to it in a boat and found it to be nothing more than a “half grown beaver.”
“Yet so curiously did it reflect itself on the water that it really appeared to be from 50 to 100 feet long.”
It was then silent, at least in media reports, about the Bear Lake Monster for some 24 years.
“Bear Lake Monster appears. Leviathan comes from Lake and devours horse while men shoot at it” was a Sept. 18, 1907 headline in the Logan Republican.
“The Bear Lake Monster, a combination of dragon, bear and fish and measuring twenty feet in length and possessing the roar of a lion is again agitating the people over the mountains,” this report stated.
The Logan Republican then had a follow up story o n Sept. 21, 1907, with the headline: “Quil Nebeker sees monster.”
Aquilla C. Nebeker was a VIP witness. He had not only served as President of the Senate of Utah, but as acting governor of the State for a brief time.
Highlights of Nebeker’s lengthy report (the most questionable story of all) are:
The monster “… came to the Nebeker ranch, overturned the pigpen, devoured eight of my finest shoats, and on the return trip to the lake ate a stack of hay (small stack) and terribly lacerated two of my finest milkers …”
It then quickly consumed eight of Neber’s pigs and then swallowed a dozen bales of barbed wire standing near his barn.
Nebeker felt he had to do something.
“I noticed my large graphophone standing on the table ready for use. An inspiration struck me -- I called to mind the value of music in taming the snakes and wild animals of the forest and I decided to try it.
“Hastily winding up the machine, I opened wide the front door, squarely in the face of the approaching monster, and turned loose my music. As It happened, the record on the machine was that incomparable tune, "Home, Sweet Home," and as its strains floated out on the midnight air, I noticed that the monster halted, then stopped. His head being low, a reminiscent smile played o'er his features, and as the chorus was readied we were surprised to see the monster's tall switch 'round toward his neck.
“As we watched we noted a stringed Instrument, something like a Iyre, at end of the animal's tail, and as "Home, Sweet Home" continued, that monster didn't do a thing but utilize his several hands or feet In playing an accompaniment to that grand old tune.  … As I moved to his side, the monster seemed to welcome me as a friend of other days, and before "Home, Sweet Home" was ended the animal's head rested on my shoulder and we were mingling out tears together. … Great streams of tears poured from his eyes, and finally they flowed so copiously that the monster floated away in them. Thoughts of his subterraneous home were too much for him, and though he seemed loth to go, he waved us a sad farewell and disappeared from sight.
“A point of particular Interest just here is that as the monster passed the barn it left my barbed wire stacked up nicely, and on top the pile left that lyre on which it had played that accompaniment. Imagine my surprise at discovering that stringed instrument to be a portion of a bale of that wire and a part of my pigpen worked up into the most approved form.
“Now, boys, this is the straight of that "Bear Lake monster" story, but don't call him a "monster" any longer, for he is truly wondrously human.”
 An unbelievable account, or an imaginative work of fiction? One has to decide for themselves.
Another early 20th Century sighting was reported in the Logan Republican newspaper of Oct. 7, 1915.
“A Bear Lake Monster seen on Lake’s Shore. Swims seven and a half miles in one hour. Ranchers unable to capture animal” was the headline.
A “Mr. Smyth” on horseback was chasing a large bull moose running southward, near the hot springs on the northeast corner and Idaho side of the lake.
The moose took to the lake and began swimming toward Fish Haven. After a 7.5-mile swim, the moose broke through a trap ranchers had set, after being telephoned of his route. He made it into the hills, west of the lake.
 “It resembles the Bear Lake Monster story in so many ways,” the story stated.
A young child claimed to have seen the monster in 1937, while a Boy Scout leader allegedly sighted it in 1946.
More modern era Bear Lake Monster sightings seem much more of a rarity. A tale of some scuba divers spotting something large underwater in the late 1970s is one of those rare stories.

Others have reported strange, large upheavals in otherwise calm lake water when there was no wind or obvious disturbance.
A Bear Lake Valley businessman reported seeing the Bear Lake Monster in 2002 and a boat, named the Bear Lake Monster, sometimes cruises on the lake.
How could a creature (or creatures) so large not be spotted regularly with more people than ever living around the lake, plus each summer recreating in the lake? (The Bear Lake has a maximum depth of about 208 feet; is nearly 50 miles long and from 5 to 10 miles wide.)
Here’s another possible explanation beyond swimming moose or beavers:
“Swimming elk” was a Nov. 19, 1976 story in the Davis County Clipper newspaper.
Bryce Nielson, a Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Fisheries Biologist and an eventual mayor of Garden City, reported on Oct. 24, 1976, that a small group of elk – cows and calves – were boxed-in near Bear Lake, with their escape blocked by the highway.
They then took off in the water, swimming 6.5 to 7 miles across the lake in 3 ½ hours. The next afternoon, Nielson saw the elk swim back across the lake, though a cow and a calf were missing, presumably drowned.
“Local residents indicated that they had never before seen such an event,” this story stated.
Also, it ended with: “Nielson mentioned that looking at the small herd of elk in the middle of the lake made him and other residents think about the legend of the Bear Lake Monster. Could it be that we have solved another mystery.”
The current Wildlife biologist, Darren DeBloois, in Bear Lake Valley, with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, stated:
"I haven't had any "monster" sightings since I have been here. I have heard the story about the elk swimming the lake, and that could account for something in the water. Elk numbers around the lake are small, and I haven't personally seen elk in or around the lake since I started up here in 2006."

 (-Originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner by Lynn Arave on June 10, 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:

Friday, June 5, 2015

Camp Kiesel in the 1920s: Real Wolves and Bears

                                                        Camp Kiesel in 2007.

PLANS for a summer Boy Scout camp in South Fork Canyon date back to 1919, according to the Standard-Examiner of May 24 that year.
“Here’s easy way to give your son a vacation” was an Aug. 7, 1923 Standard headline, in what was referred to as the only “Boy Scouts’ summer camp.”
“This is the first summer camp Ogden has ever known,” the story reported. “The camp is easy to find. Turn north at the end of the pacing in Ogden Canyon, keep going on the main traveled road. You can’t miss the road.”
There was room for 20 Boy Scouts in each of the four periods in the summer of 1923, what was likely the first operating season for what was to become known as Camp Kiesel.
“Summer camp opens June 20” was a March 28, 1925 Standard headline. Scout officials had gathered for an Honor Court and discussion at the Baptist Church in Ogden.
“An interesting discussion was held on the summer camp for the scouts, to be known as Camp Kiesel,” that story reported.
The cost of the camp in 1925 was $4 a week, with fathers permitted to stay one night free with their sons.
“Camp Kiesel offers what is declared a rare opportunity for the parents and friends of the boys who are thee to study trees, flowers and birds,” a Standard report from July 1, 1925 stated. The camp also had a pet donkey back then, “Sleeping Beauty,” who the boys could ride in between shooting arrows.

                                 Camp Kiesel ceremony in June 2007.

“Deed of camp given Council” was a July 6, 1925 Standard headline, as 400 people attended the dedication of the Kiesel lodge. Some $5,000 had been spent camp and lodge, near Causey Creek, thus far.
“The lodge is in memory of Fred J. Kiesel, who with his daughter, often visited the spot and admired it,” the report said. Kiesel was a former Ogden mayor and his family gave the deed to the Scout Council that day.
By June of 1927, Camp Kiesel had added six more cabins and could accommodate 60 boys at a time.
“Camp Kiesel, Scout home, Place of eager spirits and voracious appetites,” was an Aug. 1, 1927 Standard headline. Each Scout kept their own dishes back then and an evening campfire, complete with a stunt or act (skit) by the boys was a highlight of the day (as it is today).
 “Boy Scouts watch play of wolves” was an Aug. 14, 1927 Standard headline. Seventeen Scouts from Troop 36, Roy, followed the tracks of a large bear, only to spot a pack of grey timber wolves. They were hiking to Monte Cristo, led by Scoutmaster L.H. Stoker. Scout Executive S.D. Young and Camp Naturalist T.H. Bybee met the troop for a four-day camp, enjoying nature.

(-Originally published on-line and in print in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on June 4-5, 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: