Thursday, July 30, 2015

Summer outings to Lagoon began in mass as early as 1908

LAGOON has been a focal point for summer outings for some 107 years. There are few large businesses or LDS Church Stakes in the Top of Utah who don’t have a day of their own at the theme park.
According to the Standard-Examiner of July 30, 1908, this all may have started on Aug. 6 that year when the Mutual Improvement Association and the Sunday Schools of the Weber Stake had the first official stake outing to Lagoon. These groups were also the first to travel to Lagoon in mass over the completed Bamberger railroad.
A baseball game between the two groups was a highlight of the summer excursion.
Many may think of “Stake Lagoon Days” as a modern invention, but they essentially date back more than a century. The Ogden Stake Sunday School outing at Lagoon in 1914 attracted some 2,000 people.
Just over a decade later, these “stake outings” had multiplied and expanded. The Aug. 20, 1925 Standard reported that horseshoe, dancing contests, as well as swimming and running races dominated the activities at Lagoon that year.
By the 1930s, many LDS Church returned missionary groups staged annual outings at Lagoon. For example, the Standard on July 27, 1934 stated that missionaries who served in the British Isles, as well as those who emigrated here from there, met at Lagoon. There was “an English soccer football game,” swimming, a luncheon and a program.

“Old folks” also got in the act as by the early 20th Century, there were annual “Old Folks Days” at Lagoon. From train transportation to food and events, these gatherings were totally free to senior citizens back then.
One of the first “Old Folks Days” at Lagoon for Weber County was on June 19, 1914 and attracted more than 1,000 seniors. They also had wore colored badges too – if you were age 70-79, you had a red badge; 80-89 a blue colored badge; and if you were 90, or more you wore a yellow badge at Lagoon.
Special heritage days were also held at Lagoon too. In 1926, there was an “All-German Outing” at Lagoon in July.
It was also in these “roaring 20s” that Lagoon really hit its stride. It had its lake fully stocked with fish for fishermen; bright lights above its outdoor pool kept swimmers going after dark (and 1,000 tons of beach sand were hauled in for Lagoon’s beach); there were bicycle races geared for children; and there were large fireworks displays at Lagoon both on the Fourth of July and July 24th.
 More historical tidbits:

                               Mirror Lake and Bald Mountain.

-We probably take access to Mirror Lake and the High Uintas for granted these days, but it wasn’t until late summer in 1957 (58 years ago) when the “Mirror Lake Highway” (U-150) was fully paved from Kamas to Mirror Lake.
According to the Park Record newspaper on Aug. 29, 1957, the final 10 miles of highway to Mirror Lake were paved, with a 2 ½ inch thick layer.
Kamas Valley residents were excited over the future tourists who would now travel on a smooth road through their community to the Uintas.
A rough, dirt path, originally known as the “Provo River Road,” was completed to Mirror Lake in 1925, but it wasn’t improved until the 1950s and then paved. The road is now Utah’s highest elevation paved highway, topping out at 10,715 feet above sea level.
-Swimming was a popular pastime on the Great Salt Lake in the late 19th Century. However, rowing races on the briny waters had their era too. Back in 1888, the Standard-Examiner on Aug. 28 reported that many eastern states amateur rowing clubs converged on the lake for races. Teams from as far away as Chicago and Delaware took their oars to the lake.

(-Originally published on-line and in print on July 30-31, 2015, by Lynn Arave in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.)

-UPDATE on Stake Lagoon Days:  “We discontinued the official (Stake Lagoon Day) program in 2016 but Stakes are still able to schedule a day individually if they choose to,” Lagoon Spokesman Adam Leishman stated in 2018.

-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, July 23, 2015

When Ogden's Berthana opened in 1915

“Opening of the Berthana is a brilliant social success” was the May 27, 1915 headline in the Standard-Examiner of the building’s debut.
The story stated that the facility, located on 24th Street, between Grant and Hudson avenues,. has “given the younger generation an environment of wonderful attractiveness.”
It was also explained that the building’s title was a composite name, in honor of Mrs. Bertha Eccles and Mrs. Anna T. Dee.
The ballroom at the Berthana was 120 feet long and 80 feet wide. Many dances took place there over the decades, where undoubtedly many young people met their spouses to be.
The facility also originally included a men’s smoking room.
The Thomas D. Dee Company and the David Eccles Estate made the building’s construction possible. Utah Governor William Spry spoke at the Berthana’s opening night gala and said “It stands as one of the marks of the ‘Ogden spirit.’” After that speech, the better part of some 600 guests eagerly tried out the dance floor.
“It is impossible to describe all the wonderful features embodied in the building and the care with which it has been constructed,” the Standard report stated.
The Standard also listed alphabetically, all 600 or so of the invited guests to the grand opening.
(After more than 40 years of being empty, the Berthana building – now over 100 years old -- has recently been remodeled for some $750,000 and today houses a variety of businesses.)
In other historical tidbits:
-West Weber hosted a large July 24th Pioneer Day celebration back in 1880. A marching brass band got things going, followed by speeches, singing, games, horse and foot races.
Some 70 pounds of candy nuts were given to children, while 60 gallons of homemade beer and 80 gallons of lemonade were available for free too.
There were no drunks, fights or quarrels at the festivities, according to the Standard report from July 31, 1880.
-The town of Hooper also had a big Pioneer Day celebration on July 24, 1883. As reported in the Standard on July 27th that year, T.S. Johnson delivered an impressive speech on the history of the pioneers and the LDS Church, recounting some of the miracles that occurred in traveling to the territory.
Strangely, four children illustrated the evils and the high cost of having a chewing tobacco habit during the program. Games, foot and horse racing followed, with an evening dance.
Charles Parker was the “Marshall of the Day, with John Flinders as Chaplain. James Beus, Sam Ridout, Eli Spaulding and George Fowers were on the Committee of Arrangements for the event.

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


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Old Ephraim: Utah’s most legendary bear

                 The stone monument to Old Ephraim, erected in 1966 by Boy Scouts.

By Lynn Arave

“OLD Ephraim” was a legendary, giant, marauding grizzly bear who roamed the Wasatch Mountains in the early 20th Century. Almost 92 years after his death, the bruin still lives on, in campfire tales and various tributes.
For example, in Bear Lake Valley, there’s the Old Ephraim Pizza, 32 inches in diameter; in a remote side canyon of Logan Canyon, there’s a large stone monument where he was killed; and “Walking Thunder” (1997) was not only one of actor/singer John Denver’s last two movies, but was inspired by the tale of Utah’s Old Eph himself.
“Grizzly bear killed near Logan” was an Aug. 22, 1923 headline in the Standard-Examiner, reporting on the bear’s demise.

                           One of the inscriptions on the monument.

“The largest grizzly bear that was ever known to inhabit the Wasatch Range is reported to have been killed in the Right Hand Fork of Logan Canyon by William (Frank) Clark, a sheepherder,” the story stated.
The bear was believed to have killed as many as 15 sheep in one night and Old Eph was indeed possibly the largest and most elusive bear ever in the Beehive State.

               The Right Hand Fork is still a somewhat pristine area off Logan Canyon.

Clark set many traps for the bear over the years, but the animal evaded them. He was finally caught in a trap in the earliest of hours that fateful August morning. However, the bear, reputed to stand 9-feet-11 inches tall and weigh some 1,100 pounds, clawed down the 8-inch diameter tree the trap was tied to and ran up a hill with the trap still on his foot. Clark fired all his bullets into the bear before it dropped.
Years later, Clark reflected on Old Eph’s demise to a Deseret News reporter and stated:
"I sat down and watched his spirit depart from that great body and it seemed to take a long time, but at last, he raised his head a mite, gasped, and was still.
"Was I happy? No, and if I had to do it over I wouldn't kill him. . . . I could see the suffering in his eyes as he tried to climb that bank."

                     Even today Old Eph's turf is a rugged place.

Clark claimed to have killed 43 bears in his 34 years of sheepherding, but Old Ephraim was his last by choice.
Various historical accounts of Old Ephraim credit his range as from Weber County to Soda Spring, Id. However, make that from Morgan County to Idaho as a Nov. 9, 1911 story in the Salt Lake Telegram newspaper reported that a bear hunting party was looking for Old Eph in Morgan County too. Led by former Utah Governor John C. Cutler, this group spent several days in the wild and only found the bear’s huge tracks.
Eventually the bear was believed to have settled exclusively in Logan Canyon. Originally known as “Old Three Toes,” because of a deformity in one foot, it was a tale by P.T. Barnum that affixed the more fanciful name of Old Ephraim to the animal.

                 Part of the rough backcountry road leading to Old Eph's grave.

-Old Ephraim's legend is summarized concisely by Nephi J. Bott's poem, inscribed in a plaque at the bottom of the stone monument, erected in 1966 by Logan Boy Scouts, where the bear was buried:
"Old Ephraim, Old Ephraim, your deeds were so wrong yet we build you this marker and sing you this song. To the king of the forest so mighty and tall, we salute you, Old Ephraim the king of them all."
-Note that the bear's remains were later dug up and the skull and various bones were taken away. The huge skull ended up at the Smithsonian and was later put on exhibit at Utah State University as proof that this grizzly was indeed one of the largest of its kind. 

(-Originally published on-line and in print on July 16-16 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:

Monday, July 13, 2015

Name repetition confusion abounds in Utah’s outdoors -- Don’t get lost in a ‘Dry Canyon’

    The north end of “Dry Canyon,” along Highway 89, between Brigham City and Logan, headed down to “Dry Lake.” (“Sardine Canyon” is the popular nickname for this entire area.) Forty-six Utah canyons are named Dry Canyon, making it the most overused place name in the entire State.

By Lynn Arave

IT is rather surprising how many place names are duplicated in the State of Utah. Unique names are a rarity.
You would think that Weber County settlers would NOT have named two canyons “Cold Water Canyon,” but they did – even though they are only about six air miles apart.
In Salt Lake County it is even worse. There are three different “Twin Peaks” in 20 miles of the Wasatch Mountains, stretching from above the University of Utah to just south of Snowbird. (And, state-wide there are another 12 other Twin Peaks to be found.)
However, Carbon County is the granddaddy of duplicates with six different “Bear” Canyons.
And, if you ever become lost in Utah’s outdoors, hope it is NOT in a “Dry Canyon.” There are some 46 canyons in the Beehive State sharing that title and so rescuers could easily become confused.
The nation’s second driest state has a fleet of Dry Canyons. Tooele County alone contains five different Dry Canyons. Kane and Duchesne counties have four each. Of Utah’s 29 counties, only five lack a Dry Canyon.
There are also Dry Canyons northeast of Brigham City; by the North Ogden Divide; in Ogden Canyon; east of the town of Uintah; and one in Morgan County too.
"Dry" is also one the more popular geographical monikers Utah overall. There are some 250 “Dry” names, counting canyons, hollows, forks, creeks, lakes and washes.
The second most popular name is “Cottonwood,” with 40 different versions. Grand and San Juan counties each boast four different Cottonwood Canyons.
“Pole” is the third most popular title with 38 variations and Utah County has four Pole Canyons.
Plus, to round out the 10 most common Utah canyon  place names, there are 30 separate Rock Canyons; 30 Spring Canyons; 29 Water Canyons; 29 Trail Canyons; 26 Bear Canyon; 22 Long Canyons and 20 Horse Canyons.
Big, Black, Box Elder, Broad, Bull, Coal, Corral, Cow, Coyote, Deep, Fish, Flat, Maple, Mill, Pine, Red and Sawmill are all monikers in 10 or more Utah canyons.
Besides Canyons, there are at least two dozen different “Narrows" in Utah, including the world-famous Zion Narrows.
In addition, there are 16 different Black Mountains to hike in Utah; 14 Little Mountains and 11 different Bald Mountains.
 Mud Springs boasts 50 versions; Willow Springs, 40;  Cottonwood Springs, 26; Rock Springs, 26; and Cold Springs, 21, comprise other heavily used Utah monikers.
The Little Valley name is the most used valley term, with 29 versions – including a Little Valley that’s above South Farmington. Birch Creek has 32 renditions; Willow Creek 26; and Cottonwood Creek 24 total.
There are more than two dozen Spring Hollows and Dry Forks in Utah; plus more Left-Hand this and Right-Hand that places than anyone would want to total.
Lake names too may not be unique. There are 15 Blue Lakes; 15 Dry Lakes; 13 Mud Lakes; seven Big Lakes and four separate Bear Lakes in the Beehive State.
The High Uintas contains many duplicate names too. For example, there are at least two Lost Lakes, a pair of Wall Lakes, several Island Lakes and two Lilly Lakes there.

          Noah’s Ark in southern Utah is one of the State’s more unusual of place names.

-To be fair, Utah does contain some unique and colorful place names too. Among them are:
Accident Canyon, Ant Peak, Baboon Seep, Bellyache Canyon, Beer Bottle Spring, Blubber Creek, Brew Canyon, Convulsion Canyon, Dead Ox Peak, Girl Hollow, Hang Dog Creek, Horsethief Canyon, Keg Spring, Noah’s Ark, No Man's Mountain, No Man's Canyon , Shoofly Hill, Skull Crack Canyon, Sunday Canyon and Weed Basin.
Finally, Hell Canyon, Morgan County, is not an unusual title, but it does connect directly with Paradise Canyon.

SOURCE: United State Geological Survey database.

(-Published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on July 13, 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, July 9, 2015

1917: When a motorcycle ride to Malan’s Basin made headlines

                                           The mouth of Taylor Canyon in 2015.

                   Some rugged outcroppings on the Taylor Canyon trail.

"MOTORCYCLE driven from Ogden to Malan’s Heights” was a large headline in the Sept. 18, 1917 Standard-Examiner.
With World War I still raging, five young men from Ogden – L. Keller, Ronald Halstrom, James Rawson, Ed Lewis and Wright Corey – combined their might to get the machine up Taylor Canyon and eventually into Malan’s Basin, where a resort had existed 12 years prior.

                                       Malan's Peak.
The route up had so deteriorated in just over a decade that while Keller rode the motorcycle, his four friends had to physically lift the bike over rocks and some impassible places in Taylor Canyon.
“Several spills were unavoidable,” the report stated. The bike was driven down into lower gear, braking most of the way.

                                  Malan's Basin in 2015.

This was likely the first time a motorized vehicle had traversed Taylor Canyon, up to Malan’s Peak and into Malan’s Basin.

More historical tidbits:
-“Young people climb mountain” Was a July 21, 1915 headline in the Standard.
Seven “young folk” – one young man and six young women, including Iva Bailey, Theresa Chadwick and Earl Chadwick from Weber County, plus three New York young ladies and a Salt Lake young woman made the hike to Ben Lomond Peak.
They hiked up North Ogden Canyon, then followed the mountain saddle to Ben Lomond and returned by way of Liberty.

                   Ben Lomond Peak, center, as seen from Malan's Peak.

The group reported snow on the peak up to 10 feet deep, so snow must have persisted on local summits far longer that they do in the 21st Century. They also found the register book and flag pole left there two years earlier in good condition.
-“Trip of Ben Lomond Club” was a Sept. 30, 1924 headline in the Box Elder News. The stable men of the 116th Calvary took horses from the south side of Mantua to Ben Lomond Peak.
The group periodically nailed signs with arrows on them to help future travelers to the peak. They also reported deep gullies and fallen trees to negotiate through – especially near Willard Canyon, where a severe flood in August of 1923 had obliterated the trail.
Yet, every member of the company reached the Ben Lomond summit. Its 41 horses had been tied one quarter mile below the peak. The new group voted and adopted its bylaws while resting on the summit before its return.
-“Sunday sales City problem” was a Sept. 7, 1927 headline in the Standard-Examiner. It was then reported that some small stores in Ogden City, on north Washington Avenue, were using their soft drink licenses as a subterfuge for keeping their stores open on Sunday to sell all their other merchandise too.
City ordinances back then did allow soft drinks to be sold on Sunday, but not other merchandise. Ogden Mayor George E. Browning asked the police to investigate this illegal practice, as this business is “unfair to larger merchants whose stores are closed on Sunday.”

 (-Originally published on-line and in print on July 9-10, 2015 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, July 2, 2015

When Monte Cristo was mysterious and isolated

                   Utah Highway 39 with Monte Cristo Peak, center, in the background.

BEFORE Utah Highway 39 was constructed, that would travel just a few hundred yards below Monte Cristo Peak, the only way to access the area was on foot or horse. And, it was a 10-mile trek up from Camp Kiesel, the nearest trailhead.
“Monte Cristo, that mysterious peak on the great ridge running between Weber and Rich counties, is a part of the watershed of Camp Kiesel,” stated O.H. Bybee in the July 2, 1926 Standard-Examiner.
Bybee had recently hiked to Monte Cristo Peak, elevation 9,148 feet above sea level, from Camp Kiesel, elevation 6,100 feet. He noted that some of the finest aspens he had ever seen were traversed and that on the Monte Summit he could see the High Uintas, Mt. Ogden and Ben Lomond peaks.
On the way down, he ran across the “fresh trail of a bear not more than 15 minutes before.” He proclaimed he was glad he was heading south and not the way that bruin was. He also said that any Boy Scout who makes this 20-mile trek “will be given a special award to show their prowess.”
(Note: The first road to Monte Cristo Peak was built from 1927-1928. And, the fact that the peak was named BEFORE Highway 39 was built, proves road builders did not name the peak -- by a road worker who was supposedly reading a book about the Count of Monte Cristo. It was likely named three decades earlier, back in the La Plata mining boom in the area.)

-The campfire has always been a key focus of any stay at Camp Kiesel. A July 3, 1925 Standard story said that all Scouts at the camp gather at the campfire each evening.
“The forepart of the program is confined to community singing. Then comes the scribes’ report, in which the scribe of each patrol reads his record of the day’s events from the humorous viewpoint of a boy. Following this the boys listen to stories of the great out-of-doors, of adventure and of thrills and exciting experiences,” the story reported.
The report concluded: “Nine o’clock is dismissal time. The boys arise, repeat the scout promise and law. Then, they bow their heads while a short prayer is uttered. Soon the melody of taps float away on the breeze and the day is done.”
  More historical tidbits:
-“Spectacular parade morning feature of Ogden’s celebration. Great throng lines streets; Logan and Brigham make fine showing; Plenty of band music adds to patriotic occasion,” was a July 4, 1924 Standard headline.
Ogden’s parade was described to be four miles long, with more than 80 floats, plus cowboys, horses and automobiles. Brigham City’s parade entry, with a peach theme, was judged as the best. Second-place went to a Daughters of Utah Pioneers float overflowing with patriotism; and Logan City’s float was ranked third-place.
-Back on July 4, 1888, Ogden’s Fourth of July festivities were described as “a glorious time,” with “processions, speeches, music and song,” plus with “baseball and games.”
The celebration concluded with 10 p.m. fireworks in Lester Park. However, earlier that afternoon a four-year-old boy, was playing with fireworks near Lester Park, had set his family’s eight-ton haystack afire, after his father refused to give him money to buy more. Joseph Wheelwright’s hay was a total loss, but firemen saved the surrounding buildings.

 (-Originally published on-line and in print on July 3-4, 2015, 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: