Monday, October 3, 2016

‘The Oaks,’ An Ogden Canyon eatery since 1903 -- Before the Hermitage

By Lynn Arave

THE Oaks is a delightful little restaurant in Ogden Canyon and is the oldest operating business in the Canyon -- even predating the Hermitage.
The Oaks is often stated as having begun in 1907, but it is actually even older.
"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.
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 Oaks in the 1910s.
              -Photo from the Utah Division of State History

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.  

                        The Oaks today, very shady and casual.

"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" (at “Valley Day”) was an Aug. 20, 1907 Standard headline. (So, it may be that The Oaks simply hit its stride in popularity in 1907 …)
 "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.) 
"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 outside waiting area at the modern Oaks.

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.

                    A view right from an eating table to the Ogden River.

In 1994, the Rounkles purchased 160 surrounding acres to ensure that the surrounding area remains more natural.
Nestled in some oak and other trees along side of the Ogden River, this restaurant has some indoor seating, but an outdoor table next to the Ogden River in the summer season may require a wait.
-The Oaks, 750 Ogden Canyon, is located four miles, or about 7 minutes up the Canyon. Take 12th Street or Valley Drive to access the Ogden Canyon. Telephone: 801-394-2421. Also found on Facebook.

                               A rugged peak in Ogden Canyon to the north of the Oaks.

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