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:

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