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:

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