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:

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