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 café-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:

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