Thursday, August 27, 2015

1924: When the Great Salt Lake was ‘drying’ up for good

              The Great Salt Lake has much more shoreline and marshes these day.

JUST over nine decades ago, some geologists believed the Great Salt Lake was drying up for good, not then understanding its natural cycles.
“America’s famous ‘Dead Sea’ soon to be dry land” was a Feb. 3, 1924 Standard-Examiner headline.
“Why the water in Great Salt Lake is rapidly vanishing and how one of the richest mineral deposits on earth will be laid bare when this immense ‘sink’ is empty,” was the sub headline with this national news story.
“Within a century the Great Salt Lake, in Utah, will have dried up,” the story predicted. It likened the GSL’s demise to that of its predecessor, Lake Bonneville. The Great Salt Lake had dropped 10 feet in depth from 1900-1915, until some exceptional wet years had recently gained most of that loss back.
“Were it to disappear, Salt Lake City would lose its principal attraction,” the story surmised. Also, a lack of buoyant bathing would be lamented by area resorts.
It stated that what would be left with the lake gone would be an immense sink, which would be worthless for agriculture, given its salty soil.
The story also noted the many similarities between the Dead Sea/Palestine and the Great Salt Lake/Salt Lake Valley.
(Some ninety-one years later in 2015, the lake is still there, though it is in another of its lowest ever cycles.)
More historical tidbits:
-“Syracuse Junction: North end of Davis County transformed by push to its people” was a May 7, 1907 Standard headline.
Although Syracuse would not even have a town board until 1935, it was steadily developing in its early years.
“No spot in Utah has developed more genuine push within its history than this district. Fifteen years ago the traveler was stared at by nothing but sage brush and burning sand for the entire distance between Layton and Ogden,” the story stated. “Today this same spot furnishes the canneries of the state with a product superior to any other in the inter-mountain region, and farms, supplied with everything the agriculturist could desire, dot the landscape.”
The Stewart Investment Company was dividing and developing the land there and the Weber River waters now diverted there for irrigation, had caused the desert to bloom.
 -“Selling the Fair Grounds” was a Dec. 19, 1913 Standard headline. William Glasmann, Standard publisher and former Ogden Mayor, responded to proposals to sell the Ogden fair grounds. He said the people of Ogden would later regret such a move.
“Fairs are not intended as profit makers,” Glasmann stated. “But improvers of products and breeds … Fairs pay indirectly, not directly.”
He also stated that if the Salt Lake Fair, which receives a $20,000 budget, can’t come close to making a profit, why should the Ogden Fair expect otherwise.
(More than a century later of fairs, their often lack of profits and gate receipts are still a controversy …)

 -Originally published on-line and in print on Aug. 27-28, 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, August 20, 2015

What might have been – A Great Salt Lake resort at Promontory Point

                              Promontory Point as viewed from Fremont Island.

THE early 20th Century featured numerous beach-side resorts around the Great Salt Lake, including the Saltair, Lakeside and Syracuse resorts. However, Ogden never had its own such resort.
“A resort on the lake” was a Nov. 17, 1923 headline in the Standard-Examiner. “Ogden has no lake resort. A few years ago the Southern Pacific Company made a preliminary survey, with the object of establishing a resort at Promontory Point, but met with no encouragement from this end,” the story stated.
“The most attractive beach on the entire shore line of the lake is on Promontory Point, where the rocky point enters the lake and a sandy floor makes for ideal conditions for bathing,” the story continued.
“While waiting for this resort to materialize, Ogden should have a boulevard from the city to the lake shore near Little Mountain, so that among the attractions would be an automobile drive to the Great Salt Lake,” the story concluded.
(As early as April 4, 1912, a Standard editorial had urged, “Ogden should have a lake resort” at Promontory Point.)
Of course this resort never happened, but it was proposed and studied. (And, there was a temporary lake resort, or sorts, for the Ogden area, used in 1905, after the completion of the Lucin Cutoff, also near Promonotory Point.)
Compass Minerals (formerly Great Salt Lake Minerals) has dominated the Little Mountain area (straight west of Ogden’s 12th Street and near the Lucin Cutoff railroad line) for more than four decades, yet there could have been a popular recreational predecessor in the area.
-Little Mountain was in the news a lot in 1923. “Alpine Club visits famous spot on Little Mountain; Flag hoisted at place where Lieut. Fremont and Kit Carson stood 80 years ago to view lake,” was a Sept. 9, 1923 headline in the Standard.
The Alpine Club erected a mound of stone on the historic site of the lake’s first recorded government exploration in 1843 and hosted what was believed to be the first flag seen there in eight decades. A box containing a record book that listed the names of those at the 80th anniversary gathering was also placed there. There was also a proposal for an auto road to the top of Little Mountain.
More historical tidbits:
-Taylor Canyon is famous today as the access to Malan’s Peak and Malan’s Basin. It was also at one time proposed to be an established campground. However, in the summer of 1925 it was also the site of a musical production in what was described as a natural amphitheater at the mouth of the canyon.
Weber College and the Ogden Tabernacle Choir apparently presented an outdoor performance of Joseph Haydn’s “The Creation” there, according to an announcement in the Standard on March 15, 1925. The audience was to be seated in their cars and in a limited number of seats provided, with natural acoustic properties carrying the music for long distances in the area.
-The telephone was a big part of the Ogden area by 1925, according to a Standard story on Feb. 22 of that year. The Mountain States Telephone & Telegraph Company switchboard was handling some 60,000 local calls a day in Ogden then. Another 600 to 700 long distance calls were also being handled back then.
Ogden, with an estimated population of 40,000 then, was believed to have about 7,000 telephones, with 130 persons employed at Mountain States.

 (-Originally published on Aug. 2-21, 2015 on-line and in print 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:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

1911: A landmark hike by Ogdenites through Yellowstone

                                                                A Yellowstone hot pool.

DURING Yellowstone National Park’s early years and four years before the first automobile traversed the area, a group of 40 Ogden residents hiked an estimated 160 miles through the park in the summer of 1911.
“Ogden hikers arrive home” was an Aug. 14, 1911 headline in the Standard-Examiner.
This landmark hike spanned 12 days and was organized by Rev. F. V. Fisher of Ogden. Their trek began just east of today’s West Yellowstone at what was then called “Yellowstone Station.” The party walked to Old Faithful, to Yellowstone Lake, to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and to Mammoth. Then, they returned southwest to their starting point.
The Standard story reported that this was believed to be the largest group to ever hike across Yellowstone to date and it included the largest number of women to ever attempt such a hike there too.

                                    Artist's Point in Yellowstone.

“The unusually large number of walkers attracted attention all along the 160-mile route and soon became known to every party of tourists passing through the park,” the Standard reported.
The Ogden group covered as much as 26 miles in a single day and often hiked at 4 miles per hour for 4-5 hours at a time, with little rest.
There were four Ogden ministers in the group and so Sunday featured plenty of campfire sermons. No member of the party was injured, but a bear did attack a man in a nearby camp. The group also had to maintain vigil at night to prevent bear attacks.

                          The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

The Ogden hikers also saw a tourist from Michigan slip and slide almost 300 feet down a slope in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, before he stopped himself a thousand feet above the chasm. He had to hang on for an hour until a rope rescue arrived. Another tourist was spotted falling backwards into a hot pool. He was badly scalded and transported to a hospital in Salt Lake City.
-Despite the grizzly bear danger in Yellowstone, the Ogden area had its own bruins to deal with. “Killed a grizzly: Third one this year,” was an Aug. 23, 1910 Salt Lake Tribune headline. A Kaysville man had to kill another grizzly near the mouth of Bair Canyon, with so many of his sheep disappearing.
-“Bear streaks are on Ogden bills of fare: Big grizzly, a Cinnamon and two cubs brought to market” was an Oct. 20, 1908 Tribune headline. A 900-pound bear was killed near Huntsville and others too, to provide many bear steaks in Weber County that fall.
-The Oct. 2, 1887 Standard reported the narrow escape of Edward Bartlett, a sheepherder from North Ogden, from a grizzly bear in the North Fork of the Ogden River area. Bartlett quickly climbed a tree and the bear grabbed his shoe. Fortunately, the sole of the shoe separated and the bear left.
-“Bear disappearing from this state” was a Nov. 20, 1914 Standard headline. Forty-nine bears – including 19 in Cache County -- had been reported killed in Utah that year. Cries were being made to halt bear killings, before they were all wiped out.
-Finally, a Feb. 14, 1914 Standard story reported that L.R. Chace, a veteran trapper, was attacked by a bear in the Ogden area. The animal sunk his teeth into Chace’s thigh, but before doing more damage, the bear choked and let go. Apparently, the bear had gotten a big taste of the plug of chewing tobacco in the man’s pocket and that made him very sick.

 (-Originally published on-line and in print by Lynn Arave in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on Aug. 13-14, 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, August 6, 2015

Ogden’s old summer swimming holes

ALMOST a century ago, in 1918, the most popular place to swim and cool off in the summer was Jones’ Grove, at the back of Lorin Farr Park.
“Believe me your swimming pool in Ogden River is a pleasure and a joy after completing the dusty trip across the desert from California,” William E. Smith, a tourist, wrote in a letter to the editor in the Aug. 16, 1918 Standard-Examiner.
Smith’s letter continued: “It felt like the first oasis after a long trek and the whole family wallowed in it for an hour or more. Ogden knows how to extend the good hand of welcome to its vagabond auto visitors, and will be known all along the road for this practical hospitality.”
Smith’s only suggestion was that Ogden City add showers to its bath houses there. Later, in the spring of 1919, that feat was accomplished with a contract of $810.
However, not all was picture perfect for Jones’ Grove. “Hoodlums among women at swimming pool” was a June 28, 1919 Standard headline.”The complaints state that large boys have been using profanity in the vicinity of the pools and making threats to keep tourists away from the water,” the story stated.
The Ogden Publicity Bureau was already providing complimentary bathing suits for tourists in the auto camping park. Now, the police were instructed to rid the park of such hoodlums.
The Standard of July 22, 1919 reported that Ogden City had constructed a $4,650 children’s swimming pool on the grounds of Washington Park, which adjoined the playground of South Washington School.
So popular was this pool, that firm hours of use were immediately established: boys could swim from 1-4 p.m.; girls from 4-7 p.m.; and adults from 7-10 p.m.
-“’Ol swimmin’ hole made by youngsters near Ogden River Bridge always full” was a July 23, 1922 Standard headline.
Despite some artificial, cement pools in Weber County, some kids – especially those on the north side of town -- preferred the closer, open waters. They created a dam and made a 5-foot-deep water hole. There was a shallow are for young kids.
However, swimming attire was limited. The Standard story reported most swam in underwear and that one kid had improvised a swimming suit out of a gunny sack.
“At most any time a visitor my see a water circus. The kids have diving and swimming contests and stunt work and then divide off for a wild splash battle which lasts until one side gives up and the defeated members crawl to the banks to recuperate. The kids of the north end wouldn’t trade their pool for the best of the artificial kind. They made it themselves and are proud of it,” The Standard reported.
-Five years later, there was a problem with swimming in the Weber River. “Nude bathers given lecture. Sheriff’s Office makes roundups at old swimmin’ hole,” the Standard of July 11, 1927 reported.
“Small boys who caper in the waters of an old swimming pool in the Weber River, near the viaduct, but scorn to be handicapped by suits, were given attention today by the Sheriff’s Department,” the story stated.
Motorists over the viaduct had been complaining of the nudity. The boys were given a stiff lecture and promised to wear swimming attire in the future.
-There were also occasional accidents in the swimming river holes. A 17-year-old boy from Idaho drowned in the Weber River, near west 28th Street, on Aug. 10, 1919, in 10 feet of water. There were an estimated nearly 100 deaths in this “Caving Bank” portion of the Weber River, from 1879-1919, because of a strong undercurrent. Three or four deaths happened some summers there.
A Standard editorial asked for lowering the depth of the water there.

 (-Originally published on-line and in print in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on Aug. 6-7, 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: