Thursday, September 17, 2015

The first recorded climb of Angels Landing in Zion National Park?

                Just past Scout Lookout, this shows the final climb to Angels Landing.

By Lynn Arave

ANGELS Landing is defined by Zion National Park as one of its strenuous hikes. It is 5.4 miles roundtrip and climbs a total of 1,488 feet. "Not for young children," according to the National Park Service, the final mile of the hike is dominated by sheer vertical cliffs and dropoffs. This trail is not for the faint of heart, or for those fearful of heights.
In fact, metal chains were added decades ago for additional safety as something solid hikers can hold on to. Many steps have also been cut into the rocks.

                    Roger Arave shows some of the early on cables to hold on to.

The Washington County News newspaper of Dec, 25, 1924 contains what may be the first recorded climb up Angels Landing. Not that others before hadn't climbed it -- this was possibly the first one publicly recorded -- and, of course -- happened BEFORE there were any chains to grab on to, or prior to any safety improvements.
This newspaper story reports that Park Ranger Harold Russell is believed to have been the first to stand on the Angels Landing summit in 1923. Russell was also a guide, along with David Dennett on this climb reported in the St. George, Utah  newspaper.

                                  A section of Refrigerator Canyon.

The climb up and through Refrigerator Canyon were not described as anything harsh. Pretty much only a 15 degree lower temperature than the surrounding area was reported in the narrow canyon by the hiking group. Today much of the lower Angels Landing trail is paved, but back then white sand dominated much of it. 
There were also no Walter's Wiggle switchbacks, located above Refrigerator Canyon in 1924 either -- they had not been built yet.
Some of the hiking party dangled from ropes in thin air to reach the summit of Angels Landing.
Frederick Vining Fisher, an Ogden resident and former pastor of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Ogden, named Angels Landing and two other Zion Canyon landmarks during a visit there in 1916.

                                 The summit of Angels Landing.

-Here's the St. George newspaper report by R.B. Gray on the climb past Scout Lookout to Angels Landing. (It was originally published in Union Pacific Magazine.)
All photographs are by Liz Arave Hafen. Highlights are in bold type:
(Note the archive copy is difficult to read and it has been transcribed as accurately as possible. If you try to read this on your own at a digital newspaper site, it will be garbled and the left margin often cut off ) ...

                             Going down the Angels Landing upper trail.

"The crest of the ridge, as it lay before us, first descended to a rugged point, then swept up in a great craggy ... curve to the haunt of the Angels; the summit, in fact, appeared lofty and inaccessible that the legend of the angels seemed wholly credible and some of us timidly deliberated the possibilities of joining their ranks. It is relatively easy going down to the gap; beyond that point the ridge narrowed from ten feet to ten inches.

                                     Steep and rocky path.

"It became dizzily steep, and occasionally presented little cliffs of thirty or forty feet that required slow and careful progression by means of ten fingers, and prayerful exclamations, assisted by the abdominal muscles. All of the arts of crawling .... were imitated. But there were places too steep for all but experts in rock work. A helping hand would clutch an inch thick ledge, put a bit of weight on it and find the friable sandstone as soft as a pie crust; A flat slab grasped ... had an exasperating habit of falling down on one's head. "There were five hazardous stretches which the guides and several experienced climbers of the mountain scaled unassisted; but the remainder of the party required the aid of ropes let down by these pioneers anchored to their bodies. At some interesting spots the climber dangled over some 1,6000 feet of pure mountain air and all of them seemed not displeased when their feet rested again in level rock.

                                            Dizzy heights.

                                          Sheer cliffs and narrow trail.

"The apex of the monolith broadens out to a sloping platform of some twenty feet at its widest and one hundred feet long, capped by a pogoda-like cone. There a cairn of stones was erected, a scroll of names placed therein, and to its top was fastened the skull of a steer brought from the Tinted Desert north of the Kaibab Forest.
 "Angels Landing projects far into Zion Canyon and tho panoramas from its peak are of the highest grandeur, immediately below us was the Great Organ; opposite in the east, tho stupendous mass of The Great White Throne, soaring 1,200 feet higher.
"Northward we looked into the dizzy walled red amphitheatre called the Temple of Sinawava and beyond to the Narrows where the ethereal white cone of the Mountain of Mystery rises above the gory precipices. Behind us loomed the majestic, reposeful white cliffs of the upper rim.
"Southward, the vision included the entire sweep of the east wall Red Arch Mountain, the Mountain-of-the Sun and the Twin Brothers, glowing in the sun.
"Such visits are part of the enduring enchantment of Zion; its magnificent, sculptured masses, displaying all the tones of red from peach blossom pink to the deepest carmine known to lipsticks, and onward through Indian lake and maroon to reds that the shadows turn black; its atmospheric moods of bulk and color; its infinite variety; its unlimited opportunities for pioneer exploration with the reward of matchless vistas of scenes never beheld before by civilized man. 

                    The spectacular view southward from the Angels Landing summit.

"Those of the artistic temperament who seek scenic effects not to be had elsewhere on earth will find Zion satisfactory. It is said that a safe trail may be made at small cost to the spot where the angels land and this will probably be done by next season. The splendid vermillion butte will then become a favored observation point for Zion's increasing throng of visitors." -Originally from Union Pacific Magazine.

-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:

The Great Salt Lake volcano hoax of 1897

           The Great Salt Lake and Promontory Mountains as viewed from Fremont Island.

By Lynn Arave

IT was a hoax of mountainous proportions -- there was supposed to be a large volcano steaming in the north arm of the Great Salt Lake, northwest of Corinne, Box Elder County, Utah. That was the widespread word initially.
However, the Salt Lake Tribune of March 8, 1897 reported: ""That volcano story; It is proved to be complete humbug. Nothing of the sort there."
A Tribune reporter went out to the remote area west of Corinne and found it to be false. No volcano, no earthquakes and no meteors (volcanic bombs?) were found. No people interviewed had reliable testimony of such and occurrence either.
-This was NOT to be the last volcanic hoax in Utah.
In Washington County, Utah, likely in the 1920s or 1930s, Southern Utah historian Bart Anderson of St. George often talks about a similar hoax in his historical lectures.
Although no exact date is known, it took place in the ancient volcano cinder cone, located between Snow Canyon and Veyo.
Teenagers carried old tires, or brush into the top of the volcano and then lit them on fire as a group of dignitaries were traveling by on Highway 18 (or by another version of the story -- as local church goers were departing their meetings one Sunday).
A few sticks of dynamite might have even been used for more special effects.
Either way, that fake eruption caused such area excitement that some geologists were called in before it was determined to be a hoax.
-A Salt Lake Telegram newspaper headline on Nov. 2, 1902 reported "Live volcano reported in Beaver County in Southern Part of Utah."
A Dr. D.A. Turner of Milford claimed some local earthquake disturbances were "probably due to eruption in Mt. Baldy," a 12,00-plus-foot-high elevation peak in the Tushar Mountains, east of Beaver.
Although it is true that there is ancient volcanic activity evident in that area, his conclusion was proven inaccurate. Still, there were local resident claims of smoke and dust rising near the peak in the fall of 1902.
It is apparently true that earthquakes did rattle the Beaver area that autumn. Puffer Lake's level was lowered by one quake, that also increased the flow of the Beaver River. Some homes had dishes fall out of cupboards and windows broken during a quake a year earlier, in 1901.
So, yes, there was likely earthquakes around Beaver in 1901-1902, but no direct volcanic activity has happened there since prehistoric times.

The Oaks of Ogden Canyon began in 1903, not 1907

                            The Oaks restaurant sign today.

THE Oaks is a delightful little restaurant in Ogden Canyon, Utah. It is definitely the OLDEST operating business in Ogden Canyon.
However, the place's own history sells itself short and contains some inaccuracies.
The Oaks is stated as having begun in 1907 in a history that's on the restaurant's own menus and also on the restaurant's walls.
Yet, "The Oak's Summer Resort, A pleasant retreat in Ogden Canyon discovered by City officials today" was a June 10, 1903 headline in the Ogden Standard Examiner.
That means the place started AT LEAST four years earlier.
A group of Ogden leaders on a retreat found themselves "seated beneath the shady trees at 'The Oaks,' as beautiful, clean and neat a spot as can be found anywhere in the canyon, conducted by Potter Bros.  of Ogden, Ginger ale, lemonade and soda water,with an occasional stick in it, can be procured here at the usual prices," according to the Standard story.
The City leaders also noticed how well the grounds were kept at The Oaks, at a feast there "on short notice" and also discovered "At this resort, no one under the influence of liquor can be served."
The Ogden City leaders noted in the story that "the greatest trouble in the canyon is from the outing parties that take with them more liquor than the parties can well navigate with."

         The Ogden River is just a step away from some of the tables at The Oaks today.

-In the July 31, 1903 Standard-Examiner was a report of some Ogden sisters who picnicked at The Oaks.
-On Aug. 6, 1903, the first outing of the Ogden Automobile Club was a drive to The Oaks and a banquet there, according to the Standard-Examiner. There were tables and meals served in 1903 at The Oaks..
-The Standard-Examiner of Sept. 5, 1905 stated that a boxer, Mike Schreck, was getting in shape for a big fight and was training at The Oaks.
-The Standard of Sept. 12, 1905 reported that it was the Canyon Resort Company that operated The Oaks and the business was making plans for a new restaurant and cottages. Plans also included a new system of roads through the place and a trail up the mountainside.  

                                 This view of a craggy mountain is visible at The Oaks.

-"Big time at The Oaks. Celebration at Ogden Canyon a huge success. Great crowd gathered at the popular resort and they had the time of their lives" was an Aug. 20, 1907 Standard headline. (So, it may be that The Oaks hit is stride in popularity in 1907, though).  "Valley Day" was some sort of Ogden Valley celebration and that was what was being celebrated at The Oaks. Residents from Eden, Liberty and Huntsville attended.
(The Standard of Aug. 5, 1904 had also reported "Valley Day" being celebrate at The Oaks that year too.) 
-A Japanese official visited Ogden in the summer of 1908 and had a special reception and dinner at The Oaks, according to the Standard-Examiner of Aug. 13, 1908.
-"Lightning hits The Oaks Resort" was a Sept. 1, 1909 headline in the Standard-Examiner. A resort guest, Miss Bertha Parkinson, was struck by lightning at about 5 p.m. on Aug. 31 as a storm rolled by. The efforts of a Dr. Woolley and others are credited in saving her, as she was believed to have taken the full force of the bolt and was seemingly dead for a time.
-The June 26, 1910 Standard-Examiner stated that The Oaks had improved its camping grounds, erected some new cottages and was still famous for the chicken and trout dinners served in its cafe.
-The Oak's own history states that the original Oaks was about a mile from its current location and built by C.S. Potter. It doesn't say if that was east or west, though. It was in 1933 that The Oaks moved to its current location -- higher ground -- to avoid frequent flooding from the Ogden River.
The Oaks was purchased in 1981 by Keith and Belinda Rounkles. They renovated the place into a full service eatery, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
-In 1994, the Rounkles purchased 120 surrounding acres to ensure that the area remains the same, private and secluded retreat, except for the busy highway nearby.

1919: The year of the Christmas tree famine in Ogden

                                         Malan's Basin in 2015.

HIGH prices for Christmas trees and general scarcity of them was the hallmark of the 1919 holiday season in the Ogden, Utah area.
The Ogden Standard-Examiner newspaper on Dec. 19, 1919 reported that both a scarcity of pine trees around the city, as well as heavy snows in the mountains during October had made it almost impossible to secure the trees for the holiday season.
The owners of the Malan Height property (Malan's Basin and Malan's Peak) also stated they were placing guards on their property to prevent the loss of trees. The Malan's resort had not been operating for many years, but there were hopes to revive it and the property was also be used by ranchers.

                  Pine trees along the Taylor Canyon trail to Malan's Peak/Basin.

-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:

The cricket invasion of Uintah in 1884; Grasshoppers in 1904 Ogden

THE year 1848 wasn’t the only year that Mormon pioneers had problems with crickets in their farm fields. The summer of 1884 was also a bad one for the pesky insects in the Weber County community of Uintah, in Utah.
“The crickets are making sad havoc with the potatoes, corn and other plants in the neighborhood of Uintah,” the Ogden Herald newspaper of July 5, 1884 reported. “The red pests have come from the hills in great swarms and are chewing the vegetation to the ground wherever they appear.”
-Twenty-one years later in the north end of Ogden, grasshoppers were a huge problem for farmers.
“Farms are invaded by pests” was a July 19, 1904 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner. One man reported 100 cases of raspberries lost to the insects. The wheat fields were also being devastated.
Even the southern part of Box Elder County was also reported as being affected by the grasshopper invasion.
One desperate farmer advised mixing arsenic, sugar and bran with water to sprinkle on the insects to try and exterminate them.
-Neither time did the seagulls come to the rescue. However, regarding the famed 1848 seagull miracle, it appears that most of the pioneers did NOT initially view that as a miracle. It was only later and after Brigham Young returned from the east (as he was absent during the first insect invasion) that settlers looked back and saw it as a divine blessing.

Ogden Canyon: From echoes to a 'Z' to snakes

                          Ogden Canyon is most rugged at its west end.

OGDEN Canyon has undoubtedly changed a lot over the decades. A wide road was built through the Canyon and at one time there was a trolley line in the Canyon. However, as recent as a century ago, there used to be a perfect echo location in a spot above the Canyon; and in another location, there was the letter “Z” plainly visible.
ECHO: This ideal acoustic location was in a small side canyon, high above and near the original Hermitage Inn. According to the Ogden Standard-Examiner of July 10, 1911, John Leavitt of Plain City and some friends stumbled across the site.
“Those in the party say that the echoes heard from the voice of a person standing at one point in the narrow canyon are almost supernatural,” the Standard reported.
The men apparently experimented there and found the exact spot where even a whisper “was made to sound as if a cave of winds had been unloosed.”
The men also suspected that a small cave, nearby, that went about 10 feet into the mountainside, as well as a 20-foot-long rock jutting out of the hillside, were probably responsible for the acoustic effect.

            Today's Alaskan Inn, near the site of the original Hermitage, now gone.

THE GIANT LETTER Z: According to the Ogden Standard-Examiner of April 19, 1925, this letter was visible in rock up Wheeler Canyon. A century ago, it was best viewed about 100 yards south of the hotel in that area and by looking northward. A U.S. Geologic Survey in the area in 1871 also reported seeing the giant Z formation.

SNAKE EXTERMINATION SOCIETY: The Standard-Examiner of July 27, 1893 reported that a group of young women from Ogden had organized a snake extermination society, tired of being plagued by the reptiles in beautiful Ogden Canyon.

Legend of the last buffalo in Ogden

                                                            Buffalo on Antelope Island.

THE Indian Trail above the south side of the entrance into Ogden Canyon is a historic path, the route used by Native Americans to reach Ogden Valley – especially when the Ogden River levels were high. Yet, the Indian Trail also ties in with the demise of the last reported buffalo herd in today’s Ogden city boundaries.
According to the Ogden Standard-Examiner of April 19, 1925, the first pioneers in Ogden reported that the last herd of buffalo in the region perished when they tried to take the Indian Trail in deep snow to reach Ogden Valley.
“For many years the bones of the buffalo could be seen scattered along the trail,” the newspaper story stated.

                             The Indian Trail as it heads toward the mouth of Ogden Canyon.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Before Pineview Dam there was the Wheeler Dam

                       Pineview Dam.          Photo by Whitney Arave

IN 1898, the first major dam east of Ogden was the Wheeler Canyon Dam. Located west of today’s Pineview Dam, was some 300 feet long and about 40 feet deep.
According to the Ogden Standard-Examiner of June 30, 1898, the Pioneer Power Company built the dam of masonry and concrete.
Work on this dam had started in 1897.
The Standard-Examiner of Sept. 8, 1905 reported than an engineer had proposed that a new dam be built to the east of Wheeler Dam, near the Shanghai River Bridge. That was amazingly close to where Pine View Dam was eventually constructed decades later.
After that, the South Fork of the Ogden River was surveyed and even bull dozed somewhat for a possible dam site that never happened, despite several decades of trying.
According to the Standard-Examiner of Sept. 5, 1910, another dam was proposed to be built in Coldwater Canyon. 

    All that's left of the Coldwater Canyon water system today is a small shack and some old piping.

However, that never happened and a 10-inch water that had been installed in Coldwater Canyon in 1909 was used for many years to supplement the Ogden City water supply.

                                         The replica lime kiln near Coldwater Canyon today.

-The lime kiln in Coldwater Canyon was reported operating again, according to the July 20, 1924 Standard-Examiner. After a three-decade lapse, the kiln was working again and even a road was built to the site.
(Today, the lime kiln is commemorated along the Coldwater Canyon trail as a pioneer industry, complete with a rebuilding of a kiln.)

-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:

1922: When Antelope Island was in the running for a Utah State Prison

                              The north shore of Antelope Island.

“State prison may be moved. Committee named to consider Antelope Island proposition” was a Sept. 28, 1922 headline in the Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner.
In 2015 there was a lot of controversy about relocating the Utah State Prison from Draper. Eventually the green light was given to move the Prison to west of the Salt Lake Airport – despite protests from Salt Lake City leaders.

Back in 1922, the State Prison was still in its original location – where Sugar House Park is today, 2100 South and about 1700 East. However, an expanding Sugar House residential neighborhood was not deemed as be compatible with a prison.

                   Sugar House Park looking west across its lake.

Antelope Island, an undeveloped island except for one ranch, was considered a possible prison site. Of course, this move never took place. Decades later, the  prison moved to Draper, then in the wide open spaces.
Still, if Antelope Island had been chosen as a prison site back then, it is a surety that Antelope Island State Park would not exist and that some kind of permanent road – likely to the southern tip of Antelope Island – would have been constructed from the S.L. side.
In the 1950s, Fremont Island was also talked about as a future state prison site and that didn’t happen either, likely because of its isolation and high road building costs.
-There was a big fire on Antelope Island in early September of 1917. According to the Ogden Standard-Examiner of Sept. 5 that year, lightning started a big blaze on the dry isle and it could be seen from both S.L. and Ogden. Back in that era, Antelope Island support not only a large herd of buffalo, but had 400 head of U.S. Army horses stationed there for training purposes, as well as some 1000 head of cattle.
-“Antelope Island’s coyotes wiped out” was a Feb. 3, 1924 Ogden Standard-Examiner headline. Because of the island’s importance as a cattle range, poison and some hunters was used starting in 1921 and by 1924  had wiped out all the coyotes living on the island. Now sheep could be safely ranged there too.
-“Fish driven into Great Salt Lake was an Aug. 14, 1911 headline in the Standard-Examiner. It was reported that carp were introduced into Mud Lake, north of an adjacent to Bear Lake, a few years earlier. The carp multiplied exceedingly. However, the electric power company had drained Mud Lake in the early summer of 1911 and that forced all the carp into the Bear River. The carp were reportedly rolling down the Bear River toward Utah and were eventually expected to reach the Great Salt Lake, where they would die in its briny waters.
The same report stated that Bear Lake had known bottom and that 1,000 feet of cable had been used over the lake and still found no bottom below. That myth was prevalent in the early 20th Century, but Bear Lake was eventually proven to be no more than 209 feet deep.

-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:

Baseball fever was high in 1912 Ogden

OGDEN, Utah had lots of baseball fans in 1912.
According to the Aug. 9 Ogden Standard-Examiner newspaper that year, “Young ladies will tag you” was a large headline.
Aug. 10 that year was declared as national “Tag Day” and Ogden was no exception to that. A bunch of prominent young women fanned out in the city that day and these “diamond missionaries” would “tag” baseball fans they met as they promoted the upcoming baseball game between Ogden and Butte, Montana.
Pre-game hype included an auto parade from the Train Depot and down Washington Avenue. There was also a band and plenty of the young women “taggers” too.

Ogden’s ‘Power Place’ never got juiced up ….

                           Rainbow Gardens, center, as viewed along the Indian Trail.

By Lynn Arave

THE year 1890 was an ambitious time in Ogden City. A Methodist University, dubbed “Utah University” was being built on the present location of Ogden High School. (This “University” was never finished and was gone in four years.) Also, a large resort and housing development named “Power Place” simply never materialized, despite extensive plans.
This Power Place, planned to be 580 acres, was to be located near the mouth of Ogden Canyon (where today’s Rainbow Gardens is). With an electric power plant operating at the Canyon’s mouth in 1890, hence the name of the development.
Power Avenue Junction, Farr View, Short Street, Bow Avenue, Factory Street, Lake Street and Graham Avenue were some of the street names in Power Place, according to the Ogden Standard-Examiner of April 18, 1890.

                                   A historical marker near the mouth of Ogden Canyon.

However, a nation-wide financial panic in 1893 scuttled the plans. In 195-1906, a single Victorian building was constructed at the mouth of Ogden Canyon – the Ogden Canyon Sanitarium, with a hotel, dining room and mineral baths. Trolley and wagons offered transportation to this resort, but a fire in 1927 destroyed it completely.
A.V. Smith bought the land in 1928 and rebuilt the resort in bricks to create El Monte Springs. Wrestling matches, swimming, private mineral baths, boating, marathon ballroom dancing and even motorcycle hill climbs were all offered at this resort for almost four years.
The 1929 Great Depressing effect had closed El Monte by 1932. It sat dormant until the early 1940s when Ogden’s Cowboy Mayor, Harman W. Peery purchased it and renamed it Riverside Gardens. It offered mineral baths, swimming and dancing.
                        The Rainbow Gardens sign in the early 1950s.

In 1946, Peery’s son-in-law, Robert W. King  took over operations, with his wife, Rosanne Peery King, and renamed it Rainbow Gardens. A bowling alley was added in 1961. By the 1970s, swimming pools were not popular enough and the Kings open the Rainbow Gardens Gift Shop where the former dancing hall and indoor swimming pool were. In 1976, the Greenery Restaurant opened in the former lobby to the old swimming pool. The bowling alley later closed and a souvenir/gift shop took its place.

                                          Fred J. Kiesel

-The hot springs at the mouth of Ogden Canyon was the main attraction to why resort development centered there. It was a miner who claimed the hot springs and surrounding land first. Fred J. Kiesel, Ogden businessman and eventually Ogden’s first non-Mormon mayor, along with two over investors, purchased the spring and land in the 1870s and offered free mineral baths.

        The hot springs, private and inaccessible now, are located just off the highway.

According to the Ogden Standard-Examiner of Feb. 27, 1883, Bethesda Spring was the original name of these hot springs, named after a pool of water in Jerusalem, as mentioned in St. John. The claim was that the Ogden hot springs could improve health, with their minerals and soothing temperature.
The water’s minerals were analyzed and its temperature was as high as 140 degrees.
-The Ogden Herald newspaper of Aug. 27, 1879, mentioned the first known reference to a “Bathing party” at these hot springs, with a group of gentlemen and ladies participating. Swimming lessons were also given.

-NOTES: These hot springs at the mouth of Ogden Canyon are not publicly accessible today. They have caused a lot of vandalism and crime and the owners of Rainbow Gardens have posted them off limits -- no trespassing.
-Also, today, the original El Monte name for the mouth of Ogden Canyon resort lives on as the title for the golf course, located to the northwest.

Friday, September 11, 2015

1924: A proposal for a Ben Lomond Peak Day

                                                        Ben Lomond Peak

THERE'S little argument that Ben Lomond Peak is the Ogden area’s most majestic mountain. Back in 1924, there was a suggestion to have a “Ben Lomond” day each year, though that never came to be.
“Once a year there should be a formal acknowledgement of the scenic wonder of Ben Lomond,” the Ogden Standard-Examiner stated on Dec. 15, 1923. “There should be a salute to the first rays of light which play upon the topmost rocks and jagged edges of this mountain.”
The story also stated: “The people of Ogden can get more than one lesson by studying the great mountain which enfolds Ogden. There is inspiration every day in the grandeur of the cliffs and the peaks built by a Master Hand.”
More historical tidbits:
-“Queer-shaped cloud caused much comment” was a June 17, 1908 Standard headline. A “remarkable appearing white cloud” was “long, narrow and perfectly white and rolled through the atmosphere like a huge serpent in contortions” and floated westward over the Great Salt Lake that morning. Some believed the cloud was moisture laden and could burst and cause flooding. Others “watched the strange spectacle in the belief that a cyclone was headed in the direction of Ogden.” However, soon the strange cloud seemed to just melt away.
-There was a “Dangerous practice” going on in Ogden Canyon back in 1887. According to a Standard Story of Oct. 23 that year, workmen engaged in lime kilns and lime burning often rolled boulders and used explosives in the canyon.
Residents of Huntsville and Eden were the most affected, since they most often traversed the Canyon. Evan Evans of Huntsville was going down the canyon when a boulder smashed into the side of his wagon, demolishing the wheel.
-“Beanville is City of Past” was a July 21, 1905 Standard headline. A large group of teenagers had created a mushroom city in Ogden Valley with their large camping group. Long before established campgrounds, the youth from Ogden and Salt Lake spent a week there, with bonfires, talks, music and activities. The story didn’t specify who organized the event, but “Beanville” was the temporary community’s actual name.
-One of the first restaurants in Ogden Valley was the “Valley Restaurant” in Hunstville. According to the Standard of Aug. 3, 1908, Carl Johnson owned the eatery and offered mountain trout, spring chicken and even overnight rooms.
-La Plata was the most famous late 19th Century mining boom town in the Ogden area. However, there were many other mines. One was the far lesser known Camp Rich/Blue Bird Mine, between Wheeler Canyon and Mt. Ogden. According to the March 20, 1896 Standard, its location remained a secret for several years, but produced gold, silver and platinum. The miners were plagued by snow slides in Wheeler Canyon, but persisted on their nine gold claims.
-Speaking of snow slides. Seventeen Logan Temple construction workers in Logan were caught in a giant avalanche Canyon during early March of 1880. Miraculously, only two men were killed, according to the Logan Leader newspaper of March 5 that year.

Skull Crack vs. Causey Reservoir -- the tame name took hold

                         The South Fork of the Ogden River, just below Causey Reservoir.

OGDEN City was becoming desperate for more reliable water sources in 1920 and Skull Crack Canyon (part of today’s Causey Reservoir) was considered the best location for a dam.
“Skull Crack Canyon in South Fork Canyon is the most feasible place in which Ogden must look for its future water supply,” Mayor Frank Francis said in the Standard-Examiner of June 26, 1920.
A tour of the area that month convinced the Mayor that Skull Crack was the premier location. However, Mayor Francis did not receive the support needed for a dam and so Ogden simply had to drill more and deeper wells in its Artesian Well Park (located under the west end of Pineview Dam today), until Pineview Reservoir came along in 1937. Causey Reservoir, a part of Skull Crack Canyon, was not built until the 1960s, completed in 1966.
Skull Crack received its unusual name for a 19th Century hunter who was said to have hit his unruly mule over the head with his gun barrel, cracking the animal’s skull. However, Thomas Causey had built a sawmill in the Skull Crack area in pioneer times and it was his name that was chosen to eventually title the reservoir.
The same 1920 Standard story also reported that the Weber LDS Stake had selected a site in the meadows of South Fork for an upcoming “Fathers and Sons” outing. Young men participating in this would take the train to Huntsville and then hike up to the camp site.
More historical tidbits:
-Back in the automobile’s early days, 1911, an attempted hold up resulted in a wild chase – car vs. horse, in a stretch of country, between Lagoon and Ogden. According to a July 19 Standard story that year, a car driven by a Miss Guernsey of Ogden was accosted by a band of highwaymen on horseback. She refused to stop the vehicle, put it in high gear, drew up the glass windshield and outraced the robbers. They even fired 10 shots at the car. Miss Guernsey’s father was in the vehicle and he returned fire. No one was hit by any of the gunfire and a Davis County Sheriff eventually arrested several suspects.
-Some of the first known long-distance daily commuters along the Wasatch Front lived in Salt Lake City, but took a train to Ogden. “Work in Ogden, reside in S.L.” was an Oct. 17, 1920 Standard headline. More than 50 men from S.L. commuted to work in Ogden each weekday, spending more than two hours on the train. Most were employed by the Ogden Arsenal. Many men hoped to find homes in the Ogden area to lessen their work travel time.
-Finally, travel time from Salt Lake City to Bear Lake today is possible in just over two hours. However, in 1880, it was a full three-day trek. Because of rugged canyon travel and poor roads, it was no easy trip, according to the Logan Leader of Nov. 12, 1880.

1891: A Second La Plata

             Ogden Valley with the Monte Cristo and La Plata area in the far background.

By Lynn Arave

MINING fever was at its height in the Ogden area during 1891. Not only had La Plata, northeast of Huntsville, gained regional attention, but rumors of other claims were rampant.
“A second La Plata” was an Oct. 20, 1891 headline in the Standard-Examiner.
This second claim was in the mountains northeast of Brigham City, south of Devil’s Gate (not to be confused with the Weber Canyon formation with the same name).
Mose Jensen of Brigham City made what appeared to be a rich strike of silver. “Prospectors are now out searching the mountains in every direction, north, east and south of Brigham,” the story stated.
History proved this second La Plata claim was way overblown, but it was typical of the mining frenzy of the early 1890s in the Ogden area.
Although La Plata was just over the border in Cache County, it had the best access from Weber County – and it was wrongly initially believed to be in Weber County. According to the Standard of Aug. 16, 1891, a  sheepherder, “Mr. Johnson” (first name unknown), in July of 1891 noticed an unusual rock after his horse accidentally chipped off a piece of mineral along an old sheep trail and thus started the La Plata boom. Originally called Sundown, a few more small pockets of silver ore were soon discovered there. The sheepherder’s interest in La Plata was soon bought out for $600 by J. Ney, owner of the 8,000 sheep in the area and Johnson’s employer. After Johnson had showed Ney the rock, he recognized its value and filed claims.
“Mines are being opened in every direction from the city,” the Standard reported.
La Plata (meaning silver in Spanish) was soon dotted with tents and wagons. Three log cabins went up in less than five days. Eventually, 60 buildings sprang up at La Plata – stores, saloons, post office, hotel and more. Three different springs supplied water to the area and miners were paid $3 a day for work there.
The Standard of Nov. 26, 1891 reported that despite winter, La Plata was still a busy place and some miners and even their families were well stocked and planning to spend all winter there.
A total of 1,500 people were believed to have lived and worked in La Plata during its heyday. Three summer seasons produced about $3 million, mostly in silver.
By the summer of 1893, mines were closing fast in La Plata, the small veins having been worked out. Come 1894, no one was left in La Plata and it became a ghost town.
-Mines were also scattered all over the mountains on Ogden’s east side. For example, the Standard of Feb. 9, 1881 reported that Strong’s Canyon was home to the Star Mine, some 164 feet deep, for gold and silver. The miners also had a water wheel built there.
The Little Quick mine was found at the same time in Waterfall Canyon. This gold mine was made at least 50 feet deep in solid rock and required no timber for support.

-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:

Back when Riverdale road was muddy, not congested

 RIVERDALE Road in Weber County, Utah today is an ordeal in driving through heavy traffic. However, 93 years ago, the highway, a main thoroughfare between Ogden and Salt Lake, was a different kind of adventure.
“Cars stall in mud. Team required to drag adventurous motorists to safety on highway” was a March 18, 1922 Standard-Examiner headline.
Three feet of heavy mud blocked the road at a point likely just east of today’s Riverdale Road overpass at the Weber River – and there was no detour to be found back then. Horse teams had to be mobilized to pull several autos that became firmly imbedded in the mud. Then, the horse teams kept busy all morning in hauling cars across the heavy sea of mud and sand.

                                "Death Curve" in Roy today, 1900 West and Riverdale Road.

More historical tidbits:
-“Death Curve” in Roy, where today’s Riverdale Road meets 1900 West, has long been a dangerous place.
“Will put sign at Death Curve” was an Aug. 30, 1926 Standard headline. After three vehicles had turned over taking the sharp turn, causing 11 injuries, a sign was placed near there that stated, “Death Curve ahead. Be careful.”
A Roy resident near the curve said his fences are broken frequently by accidents there and trees are impossible to grow there, being broken off.
-Before 1905, Riverdale Road or 24th Street were the only ways to access Kanesville or Hooper from Ogden. It was that year that the “Sand Ridge Cut Off” was built in a very sandy, barren area, a road roughly where today’s 30-31st Street heads west to Roy.
-Some 70 stop signs were placed along the length of Washington Avenue/Highway 91 (today’s Washington Boulevard) in late November of 1927 at various intersections to improve safety. Other signs were erected to show where various side roads led.
This was all part of an effort for better signage along the main highway through Utah, between Idaho and Arizona.
-A historic flagpole was erected on Lewis Peak back on Sept. 28, 1916, according to a report in the Standard on Oct. 2 of that year. Participants drove to the top of the North Ogden Divide by auto and then most of the party hiked or used horses to haul materials to the peak. The peak’s namesake, Lewis W. Shurtliff and a few other old-timers, Harry Newman and H.H. Frank, watched the younger members climb the mountain.
Some members of the party had to hike down the west side of the mountain to obtain water to mix with the cement used for the pole. A U.S. Flag was also placed there. Shurtliff was in the first group known to climb the 8,031-foot peak back on June 6, 1852 with two other boys, Martin H. Harris and Ira N. Tiffany. Lewis Peak is located northeast of Ogden’s Five Points.

1913: When Utah deer hunting was almost always open season

THE general (rifle) deer hunting season Utah is almost always mid-October. However, hunting deer wasn’t always as structured as it is today. Back in 1913, hunting deer was more a matter of opportunity than a set season.
The Standard-Examiner of Dec. 13 that year reported “Deer to the west of Ogden.”  George Folkman was with a group of four other hunters near the Great Salt Lake, searching for geese and ducks when they came across a deer, west of Plain City.
“The party made a desperate effort to get close enough to the deer to shoot him with their shotguns, but they failed in their attempts,” the Standard story stated. They gave up after a four-hour chase and ended their hunt with five geese and some ducks, but no venison.
More historical tidbits:
-The Mount Ogden Game Sanctuary was established in 1920 to protect wildlife. From Weber Canyon on the south to the North Ogden Divide on the north and east in that section of the Wasatch Mountains to Ogden Valley, no hunting was then permitted there. At the 1919 deer hunt, some 60 deer were shot in that area. Deer were, in 1920, believed to be the most abundant big game in the Sanctuary, according to the Standard-Examiner of May 2, 1920. This wildlife sanctuary only lasted through the 1920s before it was discontinued.
-B.M. Fox of Ogden returned from his ranch in Viola, Wyoming in February of 1916 with an unusual deer hunting story, according to the Standard of Feb. 4 that year. Snow was so deep – 12 feet –in the La Barge Mountains of Wyoming that snow slides occurred frequently. While Fox and others were watching a deer herd of 29 head, a sudden snow slide, 100 yards wide, tore through the herd and buried 22. Hunters managed to dig in the edge of the snow mass and take seven of the deer, but the rest were lost. That winter was also reported as a tough one for livestock.
-Deer hunting is an annual fall adventure for thousands in Utah. However, 1945 was one of the most tragic deer hunts ever. “Deer hunter toll mounts of 8 as S.L. man dies” was an Oct. 24, 1945 Salt Lake Telegram headline.
From gun accidents, to a fatal heart attack to falling off a cliff, this was a disastrous deer hunting week. Bert Denning of Salt Lake was the latest fatality. His body was found by a search party in the rugged Davis Canyon of South Davis County. He was believed to have fallen off a 90-foot cliff, near a waterfall, in the evening darkness.
-“Many hurt in Ogden blast” was a May 6, 1923 Standard headline. A large Boy Scout bonfire, soaked with gasoline, exploded and injured 14 people as hundreds of persons looked on. Located at the corner of City Hall Park, near the police station, the explosion shattered jail windows. The bonfire marked the end of International Boys Week in Ogden. Flying timbers and glass caused most of the injuries.
-Underground seepage in the Plain City School partially submerged the building’s basement heating plant with water, according to the Standard of Aug. 15, 1916. A three-inch drain pipe was being installed and extended two blocks away to drain off the water. Six men were reported to be working on this job for the past 10 days to solve the problem before the beginning of school. 

1913: When the LDS Church banned ‘Rag dances’

 THE Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints put a stop to “Rag dances” for good in its ward buildings in 1913, according to an Ogden Standard-Examiner report from March 24 that year.
These masquerade balls were not deemed appropriate at social gatherings by LDS Church leaders, as announced in North Weber Stake Conference in the Ogden Tabernacle by James Wotherspoon, Stake President.
“Masquerade balls have been forbidden in the ward halls,” he said.
(Even today wearing masks in LDS buildings, like for Halloween events, is frowned on, except for special dramatic productions.)
Also, statistical reports 102 years ago by LDS leaders were surprising open. Tithing by stake members was stated to have increased by $1,112.63 in the past year, while the numbers of tithe payers also rose from 1,370 to 1,465. Stake membership was up to 6,229 members, an increase of 410 in the past year.
-Some 13 years later in February of 1926, David O. McKay, then an LDS Apostle, spoke at Weber College and warned parents about the dangers involved with dancing and also with automobile hazards.
He said moral conditions at dances and in automobiles at night were a concern. He also urged the young to avoid alcohol and tobacco.
To parents, Elder McKay said, “Homes make the lawbreakers and also the law abiders.”
Proper nutrition for children and striving to avoid diseases were subjects addressed by other speakers at the meeting.
Other historical tidbits:
-“Mormon Church takes up Boy Scout activities” was a  March 4, 1912 Standard headline. This involved the first participation by the LDS Church in the Boy Scouts, with 15,000 boys at the time. (Last August, the LDS Church stated it would still retain its affiliation with the Scouts, despite some concerns.)
--“Kaysville has new tabernacle” was a May 26, 1914 Standard headline. The Tabernacle cost $38,263, while a remodeled Kaysville opera house cost $8,827. Bishop Henry H. Blood and also John R. Barnes both spoke at the Tabernacle’s dedication on May 25, attended by a combined total of 2,421 people during the three meetings held that day.
-“Chapel for dead children” was a Feb. 17, 1915 Standard headline. Just over a century ago, the LDS Church announced plans for a chapel exclusively for the hearing-impaired at 21st Street and Liberty Avenue, near Liberty Park. At a cost of about $15,000, this meetinghouse would be less than two blocks from the State School for the Deaf and Blind.
-A Standard story on May 18, 1914 reported “Contests held in the Ogden Tabernacle on Sunday.” Oratory, singing and retold story competitions were held for 120 participants from eight area stakes.

Zion Canyon overflowing with heavenly titles

                      Angels Landing, center,  with the Great White Throne behind it.

By Lynn Arave

ZION National Park is Utah’s premier outdoor treasure. Visited by some 3 million people annually, Zion is actually steeped in religious overtones, with a total of two dozen Biblical, Book of Mormon and even Native America spiritual names dominating its unusual landscape.
Surprisingly, Ogden City, though it is some 350 miles from Zion, has a strong connection to at least two and possibly three of the Park’s most famous landmarks – The Great White Throne, Angels Landing and the Three Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
And, this trio of names didn’t originate from a Mormon either. Frederick Vining Fisher, an Ogden resident and former pastor of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Ogden, named these rock monuments during a visit there in 1916 (or perhaps even earlier in 1914, as one early Zion Park brochure from the late 1930s claims.)
Fisher, actually an early non-Mormon apologist, made a trip up Zion Canyon (then called either “Little Zion,” “The Heavenly City of God,” or “Mukuntuweap,” meaning “Straight Canyon” to the Southern Paiute Indians). Fisher was accompanied by two locals, Rockville LDS Bishop David Hirschi and his son, Claude Hirschi.

Frederick Vining Fisher.  Utah State History photo.

The afternoon sun gloriously illuminated the Great White Throne and inspired Fisher to reportedly say: “Never have I seen such a sight before. It is by all odds America's masterpiece. Boys, I have looked for this mountain all my life but I never expected to find it in this world. This mountain is the Great White Throne.”
Dr. Fisher (then going by an educational, rather than a religious title) also noticed a large rock formation on the opposite side of the narrow canyon, just northwest of the Great White Throne, and once again made a religious connection. He surmised that angels would never land on the nearby Great White Throne — that was a seat for deity — but would instead reverently perch on a nearby footstool to pay their obeisance. Hence, the Angels Landing name and what is today one of the most popular and exciting hikes in the National Park.

       The summit of Angels Landing with The Great White Throne in the background.
                                                                            Photo by Roger Arave.

The Three Patriarchs’ name origin is indefinite. Some accounts say Fisher named it and others point to Claude Hirschi.
Fisher had lived in Alaska prior to coming to Ogden and he had also visited other outdoor gems -- Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. Still, he referred to Zion as a “wonderland of nature” and gave frequent lectures during the 1910s across the nation highlighting Utah as “the Crown Jewel of the Continent” with its outdoor treasures.  Fisher also often spoke in the Ogden LDS Tabernacle and was good friends with David O. McKay, then an LDS Apostle.
Overall, Zion is indeed an unusual National Park where most visitors are provided with a brief Biblical and Book of Mormon education whether they want it or not, because of the many religious titles there.
Ride the shuttle buses in Zion and the audio recordings will recite some of this religious history as the heavenly landmarks along the way are pointed out.
(Ironically, Temple Square in Salt Lake City and Zion National Park are by far the top two tourist attractions in the Beehive State and both are religious oriented.)
Local Native Americans had for centuries known of and revered Zion Canyon, a dark and narrow place where they often feared entrance.
Mormon settler Nephi Johnson was the first non-Indian known to visit Zion Canyon in 1858. A Joseph Black visited the canyon in 1861 and called it "Joseph's Glory," after the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith. 
Another Mormon pioneer, Isaac Behunin constructed a log cabin at today’s Springville in January of 1862. By the summer of 1863, he had built another cabin and farm, this one near where today’s Zion Lodge resides. Behunin promoted the “Little Zion” name for the area and supposedly proclaimed, “A man can worship God among these great cathedrals as well as in any man-made church – this is Zion.”
Behunin was also reputed to say: "Why go to Zion (Salt Lake City) and worship in a temple when he have God's own temples here? This is as much Zion as Salt Lake. We'll call it little Zion."
Behunin used to sit in front of his cabin and admire the spectacular canyon walls.
The name "Little Zion" took hold for a time.
However, LDS Church President Brigham Young hearing of this, later stressed to early settlers in the Springdale area that the canyon was not Zion, despite their heavenly descriptions.
Some of the settlers then began sarcastically calling the area "Not Zion.”
(Behunin Canyon, northwest of the Emerald Pools, is named in the pioneer’s honor.)
Joseph S. Black, still another Mormon pioneer, was so excited by the Canyon’s beauty that he provided what others considered to be unbelievable descriptions of the place. Some skeptics then sarcastically dubbed the area "Joseph's Glory."

                          Another view of Angels Landing.

Here are some of the other religious names in Zion National Park:
-Kolob Canyons and Kolob Arch get their titles from the Pearl of Great Price, an LDS book of scripture, that mentions a star, Kolob, as nearest the residence to God.
-Mount Moroni is named for a Book of Mormon prophet. Orderville Canyon was named for the nearby town of Orderville and the LDS Church’s 19th Century United Order plan.
-Zion, the park's overall name, too has roots in both the Bible and other LDS scriptures. Zion is a Hebrew word referring to a place of safety or refuge.
-There's also Tabernacle Dome, The Organ (originally “The Great Organ”); Church Mesa; the North and South Guardian Angels; Tabernacle Dome; the Altar of Sacrifice; The Pulpit; Cathedral Mountain; and Canaan Mountain.
- Explorer John Wesley Powell visited Zion in 1872 and applied the Indian names, like "Mukuntuweap" to the North Fork of the Virgin River and "Parunuweap" ("Water that Roars") to the East Fork.
Yet even Powell felt spiritual there, since he named the East and West Temples.
-The Virgin River was either named by Spanish explorers in honor of Mary, the Mother of Jesus; or for a mountain man, Thomas Virgin, who traveled with the legendary explorer Jedediah Smith.
-The Temple of Sinawava was named by Douglas White of the Union Pacific Railroad to honor “Sinawava, the Paiute’s Coyote god or spirit. Mount Kinesava is named for another Paiute deity.

REFERENCES: Ogden Standard-Examiner Archives; “A History of Southern Utah and Its National Parks,” by Angus M. Woodbury; Utah Historical Quarterly, Fall 1987;;; “Utah Place Names,” by John W. Van Cott; and various Zion Park and quadrangle maps; Deseret News Archives.

-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: