Wednesday, September 16, 2015

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.

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