Skip to content
Secondary Content

Category Archives: History

Board of State History

 Meeting Agenda

Thursday, October 25, 2018, 12:00 – 3:00 pm

Rio Grande Depot, 300 S. Rio Grande Street, Zephyr Conference Room

TIME:  Noon – Working Lunch for Board Members and Staff

12:15 p.m. – WELCOME – Dina Blaes, Chair


Roger Roper – Historic Preservation (7 min)
1. Conducted a day-long Community Preservation workshop in Salt Lake City on September 27th. This was the last of three regional workshops that will be conducted in 2018.
2. Hired preservation architect Steve Cornell to replace Don Hartley. Steve will start on October 22nd.
3. Scanning of historic site forms for online sharing with the public. Currently 3,500 forms have been scanned out of a total of approximately 30,000.

Kevin Fayles – History Day (7 min)
1. Teacher outreach and training: 105 teachers at 8 teacher workshops: Ogden High School, Davis School District, Weber State University, Salt Lake, Daybreak, Eagle Mountain
2. Judges Needed!
3. Diversity Efforts
4. Spike 150 Curriculum
5. Fundraising goal: $10,000 annual sponsor
6. Spring Contests: Feb-April

Doug Misner – Library and Collections (7 min)
1. Using tech to help solve problems  – Staff officially completed the Artifact Reconnaissance Survey project
2. Partnerships and Collaboration – Staff completed work on the traveling exhibit, Through Toil and Labor: The Forgotten History of Utah’s Chinese Railroad Workers.
3. Collection storage facility/requests for additional staff – Staff assisted in the completion of the programming document for the collection storage facility. Have requested hiring two full time staff members to work with the manuscript, photograph, and artifact collections.

Chris Merritt – Antiquities (7 min)
1.  Public Education & Archaeology – Worked with Over two dozen teachers at Smith Preserve and Nine Mile Canyon.  Developing a K-12 curricula regarding CCC for the USFS.
2.  Site Stewardship – Participated in several trainings and development projects with current BLM Site stewardship.
3.  Human Remains Program – With legislative approval, we have hired a full-time staff for the Human Remains Program, Meghan Banton.
4. Historical Archaeology Repository – A 1500 square foot historic repository is now penciled into the current Collections Building Proposal
5.  Streamlining Agreements – working with the BLM, NPS and USFS.  Have trained 3 of DEQ’s 5 divisions towards a PA.
6.  Messaging and Media – We have had incredible coverage in the Press including Saltair Looting, Fort Douglas excavations, an exhibit tailored for those with visual impairments, shooting damage and rock art in Utah County, and the Transcontinental Railroad.

Jed Rogers and Holly George – Utah Historical Quarterly (7 min)
1. Special Issues: Great Salt Lake (Winter 2019), Public Lands (Winter 2020)
2. Monuments & Markers update: Phase II
3. Editorial fellow, publication partnership, editorial policy
4. World War I Commission

Kevin Fayles – Communications and Fundraising (10 min)
1. Website and social media update
2. 2018 History Conference
3. The Western History Association awarded “Utah Drawn: An Exhibition of Rare Maps” with the 2018 Autry Public History Prize
4. Fundraising


  1. Approval of the August 2 2018 Board of State History Minutes – Dina Blaes
    (Board motion required) (3 min)
  2. Committee reports

(Board motion required if any action items are requested)

Historic Preservation & Archaeology Committee – David Richardson (5 min)

National Register of Historic Places Nominations – Cory Jensen (30min)
              National Register of Historic Places Nominations Summaries

a) Boulevard Gardens, Salt Lake City
b) Stockton School, Tooele County

       Request for Removal from National Register of Historic Places
a) Simmons Ranch, Duchesne County

  1. 2019 Board of State History Meeting Dates – January 24th, April 25th, July 25th, October 24th – Alycia Rowley (Board motion required) (5 min)

BREAK (5min)


  1. Update on proposed Artifacts & Art Center – Jill Love and Karen Krieger (20 minutes)
  2. 2019 Vision and Priorities – Don Hartley (15 min)


Board of State History’s Duties, Bylaws and Statutory Authority –  Bryan Nalder (15 min)



Please visit the Public Archaeology programs’ “Making Senses of Archaeology” exhibit located in the 1st floor hallway by the elevators.

Board of State History

Meeting Agenda
Thursday, August 2, 2018, 12:00 – 3:00 pm
Rio Grande Depot, 300 S. Rio Grande Street, Board Room

TIME:  Noon – Working Lunch for Board Members and Staff

12:15 p.m. – WELCOME – Dina Blaes, Chair

Transition of Division Director from Brad Westwood to Don Hartley – Board concur needed

Board Membership


Roger Roper – Historic Preservation (2 min)
1. Conducted two two-day Community Preservation workshops in Smithfield and Cedar City. Topics included historic preservation, downtown revitalization, heritage tourism, museums, local archives, etc.
2. Helped develop and launch the Department’s Spike150 grant program to help commemorate the upcoming sesquicentennial of the Transcontinental Railroad and railroad history in Utah. Currently providing technical advice to potential grant applicants.
3. With the invaluable assistance of the division’s GIS staff, re-geocoded (remapped) the digital locations of more than 100,000 historic buildings in our database, providing much more accurate locational data for online viewers.

Wendy Rex-Atzet – History Day (2 min)
1. Utah History Day National Delegation Report:
Attendees: 45 students, 7 teachers from 18 schools, from Alpine, Beaver, Brigham City, Davis County, Sandy, Hurricane, Logan, Monticello, Ogden, Orem, Price, Salt Lake, Sandy, West Valley
Travel grants: $650/student, $550/teacher
Standings: 4 projects in finals, 4 honorable mention

Doug Misner – Library and Collections (2 min)
1. Provided tours to Kristen Cox, Director of GOMB, Senator Hemmert, the Office of Museum Services Board, the Geographic Place Names Committee, attendees of the Conference of Inter-Mountain Archivists.
2. Assisted with the selection of an architectural firm responsible for creating the programming document for the proposed collection storage facility.
3. Coordinated the creation of a temporary display for the History Zone of this year’s Utah Pride Festival.

Chris Merritt – Antiquities (2 min)
1.Led three tours of the Transcontinental Railroad grade for over 60 visitors, including Chinese RR Worker Descendants, Historians, Archaeologists, State Representative, and five researchers from Wuyi University of China.
2. Division of State History and Veteran’s Affairs received a “Best use of GIS” award for the Veteran’s Memorial Project and Story Map created by Christina Epperson.
3. Coordinated a total of 58 events throughout 21 counties for Archaeology & Preservation Month, reaching a potential 2,000 Utahns.  In particular, the Antiquities Section partnered with the Utah Rock Art Research Association, SITLA, Salt Lake Field Office of the bureau of Land Management, and the National Rifle Association affiliated organization “Change Your Range” to host a major cleanup and rock art tour along the west shores of Utah Lake.  Over 253 volunteers removed over 9 tons of trash from public lands.

Holly George – Utah Historical Quarterly (2 min)
1. Spring 2018 UHQ issue has been delivered to Utah State Historical Society members
2. Interviewed by KRCL about an article appearing in the winter issue on Stephen Holbrook and Vietnam antiwar protests.
3.  Organized the sessions for the 2018 annual meeting.
4. Participated in the quarterly K-12 Working Group meeting, which focused on how the UHQ could be made more useful for educators

Kevin Fayles – Communications (2 min)
1. Website and social media update
2. Interns update
3. FY19 end-of-year purchases
4. “Go West” film series


  1. Approval of the April 26, 2018 Board of State History Meeting Minutes – Dina Blaes
    (Board motion required) (3 min)
  2. Committee reports
    (Board motion required if any action items are requested)

Utah State Historical Society Committee – David Rich Lewis (5 min)
a) 2018 Fellows and Honorary Life Member nominations – Jed Rogers (10 min)

Historic Preservation & Archaeology Committee – David Richardson (5 min)
National Register of Historic Places Nominations – Cory Jensen (30min)
     Summaries of National Register of Historic Places Nominations
a) Nielsen-Sanderson House, Draper
b) Tuft House & Burnham Granary, Draper
c) Young-Cottrell House, Draper
d) Lowell & Emily Parrish House, SLC
e) James A. & Janet Muir House, Sandy

  1. Approval of 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award nominations – Lisa Buckmiller (15 min)
    (Board motion required)


  1. Review of 2018 Utah State Historical Society awards (5 min)
    a) Publication Awards – Jed Rogers
    b) William P. MacKinnon Award and Helen Papanikolas Award – Don Hartley
  2. State History’s Annual Conference “Transportation and Movement” – Kevin Fayles (5 min)
  3. Suggested agenda items and locations for Oct. 25, 2018 Board Retreat – Dina Blaes (15 min)


Open and Public Meetings Act, Conflict of Interest, GRAMA, Governor’s Executive Order on Lobbying –  Bryan Nalder (15 min)


NEXT MEETING:  Retreat. October 25, 2018, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, Location TBD



Piecing Together the Life of David H. Burr

By Sheri Wysong

David H. Burr was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1803—approximately one year before his distant relative, Colonel Aaron Burr, killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel, on July 11, 1804.

As a young man, David H. studied law, becoming the aide-de-camp to Governor DeWitt Clinton in 1825. Soon thereafter, he was appointed to the job that became the first of his true callings: heading up a road surveying crew, mapping the roads in the state of New York.[1]

Upon completion of the surveys, Burr ventured into his second true calling, cartography. He used the reports and maps from the road surveys to compile an atlas of the state of New York, which he self-published in 1830.[2] Burr then set his sights higher and began work on a world atlas, probably planning to again publish it himself. He was unable to complete the atlas, however, because in the early 1830s, he accepted an appointment as the topographer to the U.S. Post Office and moved his family to Washington, D.C. The engravers of the maps took over the project, and D. S. Stone of New York City completed and published the Universal Atlas in 1835.[3]

All sources state that Burr accepted the Post Office appointment in 1832. However, he does not appear in the 1833 civil service register, indicating that he was not offered the appointment until the latter part of 1833 at the earliest. The source of the 1832 date was probably Burr family genealogist Charles Burr Todd, whose descriptions of Burr’s activities must be read with a discerning eye.

Todd also stated that the House of Representatives employed Burr from 1832 until 1846. However, in examining the civil service registers, I found him listed in that position only from 1839 until sometime before late 1843. One might reasonably conclude that Burr created maps for his atlas until mid to late 1833, then worked for the Post Office from late 1833 or 1834 until 1836, at which time he left its employ to pursue the publication of his American Atlas.

Although David H. Burr does not appear in the civil service registers until September 1839, Henry A. Burr is listed as the topographer to the Post Office in the September 1837 Biennial Register of all Officers and Agents, in the Service of the United States. Todd includes a Henry A. Burr as David H.’s younger brother, born in 1806. In the 1839 registry, David H. Burr is listed as the geographer to the House of Representatives and Henry A. still appears as topographer to the Post Office. According to Todd, Henry A. remained in that position “until his death in March, 1863.” The employment of the two brothers probably explains another incorrect statement by Todd, namely that David H. had held the position of topographer of the Post Office at the same time as he held the appointment of geographer to the House of Representatives.[4]

Sometime before September 30, 1843, Burr appears to have left the employ of the federal government again. According to Todd, upon his 1846 return from England, Burr worked as a deputy surveyor general for Florida then Louisiana until 1852—but again Todd’s narrative of Burr’s timeline is faulty since Burr’s trip to England probably took place 10 years earlier. Contracts were issued for deputy surveyor generals for Florida in 1842, which is consistent with Todd’s statement that Burr went there soon after the end of the Seminole War. It appears that he returned to Washington long enough to produce a map, Texas (1845). Burr then evidently gained federal employment sometime after late 1845, working on a survey in Louisiana, since he turns up in the September 1847 civil service register as a draughtsman there.[5]

Burr’s activities between 1848 and 1853 are difficult to establish; he cannot be found in the 1849 or 1851 civil service registers, so it’s very possible he was working under contracts as a deputy surveyor general like he did in Florida.[6] Another possibility is that he spent time in California pursuing opportunities during the Gold Rush, since the Daily Alta California documents a “D H Burr” departing San Francisco on July 1, 1853, for Panama.[7] Separately, on January 13, 1852, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution to hire a draughtsman “to mark and lay down the on the maps, now in the room of the Committee on Public Lands, the state of the surveys” and subsequently appointed Burr to the position.[8] The draughtsman appointment was anticipated to last only three months, yet the 1853 civil service register documents that Burr was in the position on September 30, 1853.[9] Burr’s trip from San Francisco to Panama (then across the isthmus to board another boat for Washington, D.C.) might have been in response to news of the appointment, which would not have occurred a year-and-a-half after the Senate’s resolution.

Burr’s next federal appointment was as surveyor general for Utah Territory, where he arrived in midsummer, 1855. Over the course of the next twenty months, Burr’s relationship with the Mormon settlers in Utah—who disagreed with his surveys—became increasingly difficult. He ultimately fled the territory in April 1857, as tensions in general escalated.[10] Burr returned to Utah after the Utah War had quieted the conflicts. With John M. Hockaday, Burr opened a dry goods store on the corner of First South and East Temple (now Main Street) in Salt Lake City, as documented in a local 1860 almanac. The business did not appear in the next year’s almanac, and Burr’s activities after 1860 are not known.

At that point, Burr was fifty-eight years old and had limited prospects. He returned east at some point before 1870; the census that year verifies he was in Washington, D.C. One source hints that he might have taken up engraving.[11] Charles Todd stated that Burr’s health had suffered from the stress of his ordeals in Utah, but he lived for another fifteen years after he presumably left Utah, dying in Washington, D.C. on December 25, 1875.

[1] Both David H. and Aaron Burr were included in two extensive volumes on the Burr family published by Charles Burr Todd. The first edition, published in 1878, had a nominal entry on David H. Burr; by 1891, however, Todd had expanded on Burr’s life, presumably after being provided more information by Burr’s immediate family members. Charles Burr Todd, A General History of the Burr Family in America, with a Genealogical Record from 1570 to 1878, 1st ed. (New York: E. W. Sackett, 1878), 204, and A General History of the Burr Family, with a Genealogical Record from 1193 to 1891, 2nd ed. (New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1891), 199–200.

[2] Walter W. Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1985), 104.

[3] Ibid., 106.

[4] Todd, A General History of the Burr Family, 182, 200; United States Department of State, Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval in the Service of the United States, 1837, 1839, 1841, 1843, 1845. I cannot find Burr’s name in the 1843 or 1849 civil service registers.

[5] Todd, General History of the Burr Family, 182, 200; United States Department of State, Register of All Officers and Agents, Civil, Military and Naval, in the Service of the United States, 1837, 1843, 1847, 1849; David H. Burr, The State of Texas, 1836–1845 (New York: Richard Swainson Fisher, 1845), available at Yale University Library Digital Collections, accessed March 30, 2018,

[6] Contract Surveyors were not Federal employees, and would not appear in the civil service register.

[7] “Passengers,” Daily Alta (San Francisco) California, July 1, 1853, 2.

[8] Todd, A General History of the Burr Family, 182, 200.

[9] Cong. Globe, 32nd Cong., 1st Sess. (1852); Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States on the Thirtieth September, 1853 (Washington, D.C.: Robert Armstrong, Public Printer, 1853).

[10] Florida state historian Joe Knetsch provides an account of Burr’s conflicts in Utah in “The Surveyor General, the Prophet, and a War that Almost Happened,” Professional Surveyor, May 2006, accessed July 19, 2018,

[11] “The D. Griffing Johnson, A. J. Johnson and J. H. Colton Connection,” Geographicus, June 13, 2009, accessed September 24, 2017,


Utah Historical Quarterly Winter 2018

Volume 86, Number 1


The Utah Historical Quarterly has historically seen itself as a state journal that explores Utah history in the regional context of the American West. For all of the focus on Utah history, the UHQ sought to address frameworks and subjects beyond the state’s geopolitical boundaries to those across the Great Basin, Colorado Plateau, and greater Intermountain West.

Over the last ninety years, the journal has published articles that have variously looked at Utah history as an entity in itself and others that have placed it within a regional context. Both approaches can lead to fine works of history. But we are committed to the idea that to deeply understand Utah, readers must interact with a host of overlapping subjects and geographical contexts, often offered in combination with history’s allied fields (geography, archeology, cultural studies, and others). With this in mind, the editorial team, with approval of the Advisory Board of Editors, revised our editorial statement to affirm our commitment to a regional, interdisciplinary approach to Utah history. This statement will be published in the inside front cover of each issue.

In the twenty-first century, with the wide availability of information, the fracturing and specialization of subject matter, and, even, the loss of faith in a shared body of knowledge, the UHQ aspires as we have done since 1928 to bring you evidentiary, peer-reviewed history that spans across all regions and pertains to all groups and communities that make Utah home. To continue to make that happen, we are pleased to announce the creation of the Miriam B. Murphy / Thomas G. Alexander Editorial Fellow. In partnership with the History Department at the University of Utah and the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at Brigham Young University, this academic-year award is offered to a deserving candidate enrolled in the University of Utah’s history graduate program. This year the Miriam B. Murphy Editorial Fellow is Alexandria Waltz, and we are currently accepting applications for the Thomas G. Alexander Editorial Fellow to work alongside UHQ staff during the 2018–2019 academic year. For more on the fellowship and its namesakes, see pages 69-71.

We are deeply grateful to the History Department at the University of Utah and to the Redd Center at Brigham Young University for their financial assistance and partnership to make the Fellow award possible. Fundraising in the years to come will be needed, and if the pursuit and publishing of exceptional history interests you, I would be delighted to speak to you about financial contributions to this annual editorial appointment. The Fellow award is but one area of close collaboration between the journal and the state’s institutions of higher learning.

Finally, before I introduce this issue’s articles, I invite each of you to take part in our 2018 annual statewide theme and conference, Transportation and Movement. In recognition of the upcoming commemoration of America’s first transcontinental railroad in May 1869, the Utah State Historical Society aims to highlight this singular national historical event and the centrality of transportation and movement in Utah and western history. Archaeology and Preservation Month in May, with its associated partnership events held across Utah, will center on this theme, as will a host of other events and exhibitions sponsored or supported by the Society. The year culminates with the 66th annual Utah History Conference to be held at the Cultural Celebration Center on September 27–28. There, scholars, academics, public historians, local historians, educators, film documentarians, book dealers, and people interested in history will explore the latest scholarship, writing, and sources on this theme and other aspects of Utah history. I thank all of you for your participation at past conferences and, more broadly, for your love of and interest in what we do at the Society. By attending the conference and lectures, reading the UHQ, and perusing online materials, I hope you see the value that the Society brings to the study and public consumption of history in Utah.

The essays in this issue bring attention to topics that will be intimately familiar to some readers. In the nineteenth century, overland pioneers and travelers to Salt Lake City frequently passed through Mountain Dell, located as it was along the emigrants’ road. Today, it is a fly-by place in Parley’s Canyon along the Interstate 80 corridor where golfers and Nordic skiers go for recreation. Our first essay contextualizes the changes that occurred there, from a way station and village community with a school, post office, and other amenities, to Salt Lake City water works that displaced local residents on behalf of watershed protection.

Some readers may remember, and even possibly participated in, the antiwar protests of the Vietnam era. The second essay centers on Stephen Holbrook, a young Utahan inspired by his participation in the Freedom Summer Project in Mississippi, who led antiwar demonstrations in his home state. The work published here examines the cultural and religious factors that contributed to Holbrook’s world view that emphasized cooperation and collaboration over antagonism and violence. The Utah scene and the movement Holbrook orchestrated, with its relatively few violent disturbances, complicate popular perceptions of protests nationwide.

Our final essays reflect on the local histories that surround us all. In this issue, spurred on by local leader and Manila, Utah, resident RaNae Wilde, we offer reflections on a county and its communities that have traditionally received little love in the historical literature about Utah. The place: Daggett County. The occasion: the county’s centennial commemoration. As the smallest county in the state’s geopolitical configuration, Daggett is sparsely populated and geographically isolated, at least from Utah, since it is more associated with and easily accessible from Wyoming’s Green River basin. Our third essays reflects on the oft-ignored themes associated with Daggett, as well as it historical, cultural, and political position in the Intermountain West. Finally, we publish a review essay that evaluates the work and contribution of one of the most ubiquitous publishers of local history, Arcadia Publishing. From works on local communities by local authors, Arcadia fills a niche for histories that are familiar and reflect the nostalgia of a people.

Brad Westwood


Ghosts of Mountain Dell: Transportation and Technological Change in the Wasatch Mountains
By Cullen Battle

Reexamining the Radical: Stephen Holbrook and the Utah Strategy for Protesting the Vietnam War
By Scott Thomas

Daggett Count at 100: New Approaches to a Colorful Past
By Clint Pumphrey


“Make Me an Author”: Arcadia Publishing and the “Images of America” Series—A Critique of Selected Utah Titles
By Noel A. Carmack


John L. Kessell, Whither the Waters: Mapping the Great Basin from Bernardo de Miera to John C. Fremont. Reviewed by Paul Nelson

Samuel M. Otterstrom, From California’s Gold Fields to the Mendocino Coast: A Settlement History Across Time and Place. Reviewed by Christopher Herbert

Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, Sweet Freedom’s Plains: African Americans on the Overland Trails, 1841-1869. Reviewed by W. Paul Reeve

Robert S. McPherson, Fighting in Canyon Country: Native American Conflict, 500 AD to the 1920s. Reviewed by John D. Barton

Thomas W. Simpson, American Universities and the Birth of Modern Mormonism, 1867-1940. Reviewed by Allyson Mower

Mapping the American West

Several of the maps analyzed by Sheri Wysong in “The Mountain Men, the Cartographers, and the Lake” (UHQ, Spring 2018) are available in high resolution online:

66th Annual Utah History Conference Program

Transportation and Movement

Utah State Historical Society

September 28, 2018

Utah Cultural Celebration Center, West Valley City, Utah

Registration is now closed

9/28/2018 Utah Cultural Celebration Center
Time Session Titles and Speakers
9:00 – 10:15am
Plenary Session — Is Utah Still the Crossroads of the West?

Speakers: Jeffrey D. Nichols (moderator), David Haward Bain, John M. Findlay, Juliette Tennert, Fred E. Woods.

The panel will examine the question in all its dimensions—in terms of the state’s geographic position but also cultural and economic influence—and whether the idea of crossroads is still a useful and accurate concept to think about Utah history and the state in the twenty-first century.

10:30 – 11:45am Photography, Representation, and the Transcontinental Railroad (Room 201/202)

Noel Carmack, Utah State University-Eastern, chair

Daniel Davis, Utah State University: A. J. Russell’s Transcontinental Railroad Photographs in Echo and Weber Canyons

Zane Rand Hirschi-Neckel, University of Utah: Andrew J. Russell’s Photography and the Rise of Transcontinental America

James Swensen, Brigham Young University: Utah’s Gateway: Echo Canyon and the Changing Nature of the Sublime

New Approaches to Utah Studies: Lightning Round (Room 204)

This session serves as an opportunity for students and new scholars to briefly describe their research and gain feedback and insight on the process.

Presenters: Jon England, Arizona State University; Carlyle Constantino, University of Phoenix; John Nilsson, University of Utah; Jeff Turner, University of Utah

Comments: Greg Smoak, American West Center; Jessie Embry, Journal of Mormon History; Eric Swedin, Weber State University; Rebecca Andersen, Utah State University

  The Role of Transit in Salt Lake City’s Development (Room 205)

Alan Barnett, Utah State Archives, chair

Susie Petheram, CRSA: Two Rails, Two Transit-Oriented Developments

Laurie Bryant, independent historian: In the Path of Progress

Brent D. Barnett, independent historian: Where Have All of the Interesting Churches Gone? The Early 20th-Century Meetinghouses of Salt Lake Valley

  Highways and Roadside Culture in 20th-Century Utah (Great Hall)

Clint Pumphrey, Utah State University, chair

John H. Clark, artist and author: Automotive Firsts in Utah

Lisa-Michele Church, independent historian: Race Cars and Red Rocks: The Early Days of the Arrowhead Highway

Susan S. Rugh, Brigham Young University: The Highway Heyday in Utah’s Motel Towns

Premiere: Journey to Promontory (2018) (Suite C/D)

This session will be the Utah premiere of a new PBS documentary film, made by longtime history documentarian Richard Luckin, on the building of the transcontinental railroad. Luckin will be in attendance to offer comment.

Journey to Promontory celebrates the 150th anniversary of the joining of the rails in Promontory. The story of the joining of the rails is told through historians, authors, photographers and supported by historic images gathered from many sources.

Journey to Promontory will cover in depth the following chapters; Before the Railroad, Selecting the Route, Hell on Wheels, Building the Railroad (The Chinese & Irish), LDS and the Railroad and Joining of Rails. The end of the film will focus on a chapter, Today’s Railroad and its importance to commerce and industry.

May 10th, 1869 was one of the America’s historic events linking the country together

Noon – 1:30pm Lunch

2018 Outstanding Achievement Awards Program
Dina Blaes, Chair, Board of State History

Keynote – Living the First Transcontinental Life

David Haward Bain, author of Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad and Senior Lecturer in American & English Literatures at Middlebury College

1:45 – 3:00pm Refugee Movement and Boundaries: Displacement, Relocation, and Advocacy (Room 201/202)

David Rich Lewis, Utah State University, chair

Randy Williams, Utah State University; Nelda Ault-Dyslin, Utah State University; Chit Moe, Utah State University; Jess Lucero, Utah State University

Pathfinding: Transportation Solutions (Room 204)

Richard Talbot, BYU, chair

Luli Josephson, independent historian: “The Little Tramway that Could”: An Obscure Mode of Transportation in Early Utah

David M. Wilkins, independent historian: Swing and Sway the Electric Way: Utah’s Interurban Railways

Rhonda Lauritzen, independent historian: Way Stations to Airports: One Family’s Mark on Transportation, 1867–1947

Ronald G. Watt, independent historian: Railroads, Roads, and Cars in Castle Valley, Utah

Moving Goods and Money (Room 205)

Will Bagley, independent historian, chair and comment

R. Devan Jensen, Brigham Young University: Mail before the Rail: Rise and Demise of the Brigham Young Express and Carrying Company

Eileen Hallet Stone, author: F. Auerbach & Bros.: The Movement of Goods and Ideas in a Utah Dynasty

Matthew C. Godfrey, LDS Church History Department: The Bishop and the People: Charles W. Nibley, Charles G. Patterson, and the Proper Role of Business and Competition in Progressive Era Utah

  Culture and Technology (Great Hall)

Chair, Shawn Lambert, Utah Division of State History

Ryan K. Lee, Brigham Young University: “This is the Place … to Visit”: Railroads and the Beginnings of Utah’s Tourism Industry

Berwyn J. Andrus, independent historian: The Monumental Highway—Bluff to Little Zion and the Arrowhead Trail, 1917: The Saga of Dolph Andrus, Doc Hopkins, and the Maxwell Automobile

Hikmet Sidney Loe, Westminster College: The Transient West: Transportation and Movement as Gleaned from a Close Reading of Robert Smithson’s Earthwork, Spiral Jetty (1970)

Promontory (2002) (Suite C/D)

This session will screen the 2002 KUED public television film on the completion of the transcontinental railroad, with comments from panelists, the director, and others, regarding how this documentary, produced for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, holds up sixteen years later.

Kelly Nelson, Woosh Productions; Laura Durham and Mary Dickson, KUED; Ken Verdoia, KUED

3:15 – 4:30pm Murder and Justice: Stories of True Crime (Room 201/202)

Lisa Olsen Tait, LDS Church History Library, chair and comment

Kenneth L. Cannon II, lawyer and independent historian: Murder in Forest Dale: Issues in the Murder of Jimmy Hay and the Trial of Peter Mortensen

Linda Thatcher, Utah State History: Lester Farnsworth Wire: Inventor of the Traffic Light

Rebecca A. Wiederhold, Brigham Young University: Pardon for Murder: Jared Dalton, the “Assassin of Old Mother Parker”

“All Out for Uncle Sam”: Movement in Northern Utah during WWII (Room 204)

Sarah Singh, Weber State University, moderator

Alyssa Chaffee, Weber State University

Michael Balliff, Weber State University

Lorrie Rands, Weber State University

Anya Kitterman, Hill Air Force Base: The Ties that Bind: Why the Railroad was Key to the Development of the Ogden Arsenal and Hill Field

A Critical Review of The Diaries of Leonard J. Arrington (Signature Books, 2018) (Room 205)

This panel is part of a regular series evaluating significant books in Utah history. The editor, Gary James Bergera, will be on hand to offer comment.

Jedediah Rogers, UHQ, moderator

Gary James Bergera, Smith-Pettit Foundation

John Sillito, Weber State University

Cristina Rosett, UC-Riverside

Gary Topping, Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City Archives

Cultural Threads in 19th-Century Utah (Great Hall)

Holly George, UHQ, chair and comment

Robin Scott Jensen, LDS Church History Library: The 1869 Textual Culture of Polygamy

Kenneth L. Alford, Brigham Young University: Poetry and Songs of the Utah War

Laraine Miner, independent historian: Mormon Pioneer Dances, Crossing the Plains to Utah, and Colonizing the West

Following the session, the Eagle Mountain Family Dance Group will perform authentic dances from the Utah pioneer period through the early transcontinental railroad era.

Film and Storytelling (Suite C/D)

This session will explore the art of storytelling. Storytelling is at the heart of any good film and is the foundation for engaging exhibits, oral histories, tours, and public history programs. Panelists will share practical tips and film-making techniques to bring to life stories from local history.

Dina Blaes, Board of State History, chair

Issac Goeckeritz, Emmy Award winning storyteller with IG Films and Documentary Producer at KUED

Carolyn ‘Winnie’ Wood, SB Dance and former professor of Theater and Performing Arts at Wasatch Academy in Mt. Pleasant, Utah.

Excerpts from award-winning films produced by students for Utah History Day

Registration is now closed




Utah Students Excel at National History Day Contest

Ten Utah middle- and high-school students placed among the top entries in the nation at the annual National History Day Competition at the University of Maryland, College Park. These exceptional young historians placed in the Top Ten in their categories among 3,000 competitors at the national meet held last week.

Utah’s top finishers:

Third Place: Kelsey Hagman, Brighton High School (Sandy): “The Kansas-Nebraska Act: Compromise Turned to Conflict,” Senior Individual Website.

Fourth Place: Caitlin Radovan, Thomas Edison Charter School South (Nibley): “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg: Fight for Gender Equality and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,” Junior Individual Website.

Fourth Place: Andrew Smaellie and Thomas Varghese, The Waterford School (Sandy): “Steve Jobs vs. Apple: The Conflict and Compromise that Changed the Technology World,” Junior Group Website.

Eighth Place: Outstanding Junior State Entry: Zachary Jessop, Midvale Middle School (Salt Lake): “Each Life is Worth a World: Gil and Eleanor Kraus and the Rescue of Fifty Jewish Children from Nazi Germany,” Junior Individual Documentary.

Honorable Mention:

  • Jacob Simmons, Brighton High School (Sandy): “Rabin of Israel: A Story of War and Peace”
  • Kasper Nilsson, Waterford School (Sandy): “Conflict Over Civil Rights: The Compromise of the Birmingham Retailers”
  • Gracyn Killpack, Thomas Edison Charter School South (Logan): “Want Beer? It’s Not Here: The Conflict and Compromise of Prohibition in the United States”
  • Kallie Kunz and Allie Jorgensen, Lakeridge Junior High School (Orem): “Rocking the Civil Rights Movement: The Little Rock Nine”

National Museum of American History National History Day Exhibit Showcase
Faith Moua, Mountain Heights Academy (West Valley City), “The Secret War’s Secret: The U.S. Hmong Alliance”

National Museum of African-American History and Culture NHD Documentary Showcase:

  • Kasper Nilsson, Waterford School (Sandy): “Conflict Over Civil Rights: The Compromise of the Birmingham Retailers”
  • Lily Frame and Esme Smith, Waterford School (Sandy): “Women’s Suffrage in Utah: Conflict Between Federal Government, the LDS Church, and the State Government”

Forty-five Utah students competed at nationals. Their original historical research projects centered on the theme “Conflict and Compromise in History.” During the rigorous week of competition, the students toured the U.S. Capitol and met with Senator Mike Lee.

Utah’s National History Day program encourages students to delve into the past through historical research, critical thinking, and presentation. Students may choose a topic from local, national, or world history, ranging from politics and war to science, social history, and the arts. They then create museum-style exhibits, historical performances, original websites, documentary films, and research papers to showcase their work. Entries are judged in a series of competitions beginning at the local level and culminating in the national contest held each June.

“History Day is an exciting way to engage students and teachers in the study of historical issues, people and events,” said Wendy Rex-Atzet, state coordinator for the Utah History Day program. “This program truly makes history come to life for young people by offering the freedom to choose a meaningful topic, and then giving them the research and analytical tools they need to discover the past on their own.”

Utah History Day is the state’s official National History Day affiliate. Formerly called Utah History Fair, this program has operated continuously in Utah since 1980. The program was originally developed and housed at Utah State University. In 2014 it was transferred to the Utah Division of State History in Salt Lake City.

UHQ Spring 2018 Web Extras

Re-discovering the 1931 Claflin-Emerson Expedition

Jerry D. Spangler and James M. Aton, The Crimson Cowboys: The Remarkable Odyssey of the Claflin-Emerson Expedition

Read how modern archaeologists rediscovered a 1931 expedition and see photos from 1931 and the present.


Researching Turn-of-the-Century Women

Polly Aird, Small but Significant: The School of Nursing at Provo General Hospital, 1904–1924

Follow this link for Aird’s exhaustive research files about the lives of nurses at Provo General Hospital.


Maps, Mapmakers, and Nineteenth-Century Exploration

Sheri Wysong, The Mountain Men, the Cartographers, and the Lakes

See the maps analyzed in Wysong’s article and read her narrative of the life of David H. Burr.

Sarah Vowell discusses the life of the dour Charles Preuss, “The Homesick Explorer.”


The Power of Oral History

Randy Williams, Voices from Drug Court: Community-Based Oral History at Utah State University

 Access audio from 2017 conference session about “Voices from Drug Court” and audio and transcripts from the entire oral history project.

Revisiting the Claflin-Emerson Sites

Lower Hill Creek

The Claflin-Emerson crew excavating in Lower Hill Creek (ET6-26) on July 29, 1931. (Courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. PM No. 971-21-10/100162.1.361, File 99380229.)


Long-distance shot of ET6-26 in Lower Hill Creek, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Dan Bauer.)

Gunnison Butte

The Harvard Crew beginning their trek. Gunnison Butte, north of Green River, Utah, is in the background. (Courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. PM No. 971-21-10/100162.1.1028, File 99380318.)


Gunnison Butte and Green River, January 27, 2018. (Photo by James M. Aton.)

Fort Rocking Chair

The massive stone tower at Fort Rocking Chair (ET6-13) above the Taylor Ranch, photographed on July 27, 1931. (Courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. PM No. 971-21-10/100162.1.27, File 99380244.)


The stone tower at Fort Rocking Chair (ET6-13), seen on April 28, 2017. (Photo by Dan Bauer.)

Rasmussen Cave

A view of Rasmussen Cave in Nine Mile Canyon as the crew pauses from excavating for a photograph. (© President and Fellows of Harvard College, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. PM No. 2005., File 99380230.)


Rasmussen Cave, January 27, 2018. (Photo by James M. Aton.)

Green River Crossing

The expedition preparing to cross the Green River on Hank Stewart’s ferry at Sand Wash, July 30, 1931. (© President and Fellows of Harvard College, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. PM No. 971-21-10/100162.1.24, File 99380238.)


Sand Wash Ferry site, January 27, 2018. (Photo by James M. Aton.)

Range Creek

William Bowers documents a rock art site inside an alcove above the team’s first camp in Range Creek. (Courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. PM No. 2004.24.10537, File 120770002.)


Rock art in Range Creek, July 30, 2006. (Photo by Dan Miller.)

Desolation Canyon

The Harvard explorers visited this small tower site (ET5-1) on August 14, 1931. (Courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. PM No. 971-21-10/100162.1.385, File 99380317.)


Desolation Canyon tower (ET5-1) near Peter’s Point. (Photo by James M. Aton.)


Re-discovering the 1931 Claflin-Emerson Expedition

The stone tower at Fort Rocking Chair (ET6-13), seen on April 28, 2017. (Photo by Dan Bauer.)

By Jerry D. Spangler

I was a bumbling first-year graduate student when I stumbled upon my first Claflin-Emerson Expedition site in the spring of 1989 in Nine Mile Canyon. It was a fascinating site: a series of round, semi-subterranean pit houses on a bench overlooking the valley floor. Below one pit-house floor, we excavated the burial of a child, an arrow point lodged in the chest area.[1] Radiocarbon dates later showed that these were homes of the ancient Fremont peoples, farmers and foragers who thrived in the Tavaputs Plateau region from AD 900 to 1250.

At the time, I did not know that it was one of the many sites the Claflin-Emerson team first visited in 1931 in Nine Mile—no one did—because we did not have access to their 1931 field journals and they never published a report. And James Gunnerson’s 1969 summary of those sites offered only vague clues as to their location. During the course of the next three summers, I inadvertently stepped onto at least ten of their sites, not knowing that Peabody Museum scholars had trod there more than a half century before.

I didn’t think much about the 1931 expedition in the years that followed, although my love for the history of Utah archaeology in general continued to mature. In 2002, I happened to be invited, along with Duncan Metcalfe, archaeology curator at the Natural History Museum of Utah, and Kevin Jones, then the Utah state archaeologist, to visit archaeological sites in Range Creek. We knew that the Claflin-Emerson Expedition had been there in July 1931, and we figured out some of the sites they had visited, in spite of the limited information Gunnerson had offered.

Sitting around the Range Creek campfire at nights, we spun out this idea: What did the Peabody Museum at Harvard actually have in its collection that would help us better understand the archaeology of Range Creek? And would they be willing to share that information with us?

Over the next few years, I made three trips to the Peabody Museum (2005, 2005, and 2007) to work closely with museum staff to identify not just information relevant to Range Creek but to the entire West Tavaputs Plateau. This began a long and fruitful relationship with Patricia Kervick, senior archivist at the Peabody. Pat has been amazingly gracious and patient in providing me—and later my coauthor, Jim Aton—with copies of the five original 1931 field journals, of Donald Scott’s unpublished report summarizing the expedition, and more. I became thoroughly seduced by the words in those journals (long on archaeological data but short on interpersonal details), the sketches and photographs, and the sheer magnitude of what they had accomplished. But I was stunned to discover that Gunnerson’s summary, part of his PhD dissertation at Harvard, had omitted perhaps as much as 30 percent of all sites visited in 1931.[2] I was even more surprised to find the museum had hundreds of 1931 photographs, a good share of them of excellent quality and ideal for research purposes.

What started as a simple attempt to learn more about Range Creek quickly became an obsession: the journals and the photographs were a road map to re-identify every Claflin-Emerson site. I am sure my Range Creek colleagues rolled their eyes a time or two at my giddiness when I discovered yet another 1931 site. Within two years, I had identified, re-documented, and re-photographed all twenty-nine Claflin-Emerson sites in Range Creek.[3] A comparison of the 1931 photographs to current site conditions was part of a groundbreaking research paper on archaeological site degradation, written with my esteemed colleagues, Shannon Arnold and Joel Boomgarden.[4]

My fascination soon led me to search for Claflin-Emerson Expedition sites in Nine Mile and Desolation Canyon. And it was inevitable that my path would cross with Kentucky native James M. Aton, a kindred spirit and a fellow obsessive. Jim is a Fulbright scholar, an English professor at Southern Utah University, and an award-winning author. He wrote the definitive history of the Green River, The River Knows Everything: Desolation Canyon and the Green.[5] And he is just as passionate about the archaeological history of this wild land as I am. We have spent much of the past twelve years together retracing the steps of the Claflin-Emerson Expedition. This has meant numerous river trips in Desolation Canyon to find Claflin-Emerson sites in side canyons such as Chandler, Florence Creek, Jack Creek, and Rock Creek. We’ve made many road trips to Nine Mile Canyon, the Uinta Basin, Hill Creek, Willow Creek, and Dinosaur National Park to relocate sites. On top of all our field work, Jim traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in June 2015 to work at the Peabody and the Pusey Library where he scanned close to a thousand pages of documents: receipts, planning charts, correspondence, and students records. We have also found and contacted four descendants of the expedition members or sponsors. All have enthusiastically supported our project and contributed photographs, memories, letters, and journals.

I am an archaeologist and Jim is a historian: a perfect combination of skills to tell the story of one of the most remarkable archaeological expeditions in American history. It is a tale of mostly privileged young men who, at first blush, would seem ill-suited to four hundred miles on horseback into the wildest canyon country imaginable, all in the name of science. The fact that they accomplished it without a scratch speaks to the perceived immortality of young men everywhere, not to mention their skill and planning.

But how to tell this story? Neither of us wanted to write a day-by-day travelogue, nor did we care to burden the reader with endless descriptions of rock art and granaries and the sometimes-spectacular architecture that dots this landscape. Although we necessarily must do some of that, we believe the story is rooted in the people: the scholars, the benefactors, the student participants, the guides and wranglers, the ranching families they met along the way, and those who walked these same lands before and after the Harvard boys’ seven-week sojourn here. This is a story about archaeology, and archaeology is, or at least it should be, a story about people.

The Claflin-Emerson Expedition was actually a four-year project from 1928 to 1931 that explored much of the Colorado Plateau north of the Colorado River. This article and the forthcoming book from which it is drawn focus primarily on the 1931 expedition—the last one and certainly the most ambitious of all. In fact, the 1931 expedition dwarfed those of the previous three years, not only in geographic scope but in logistical difficulty. What they did in the summer of 1931 has not been duplicated since. As contemporary researchers and adventurers, we stand in awe of their accomplishments.


[1]. Patricia Thompson, “Excavations in Nine Mile Canyon from 1892–1990: A Study in Cultural Diversity,” (Master’s Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1993).

[2]. James H. Gunnerson, The Fremont Culture: A Study in Cultural Dynamics on the Northern Anasazi Frontier, Papers of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology 59, no. 2 (1969).

[3]. Jerry D. Spangler, K. Renee Barlow, and Duncan Metcalfe, “A Summary of the 2002–2003 Intuitive Surveys of the Wilcox Acquisition and Surrounding Lands, Range Creek Canyon, Utah,” Utah Museum of Natural History Occasional Papers 2004-1 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 2004).

[4]. Jerry D. Spangler, Shannon Arnold, and Joel Boomgarden, “Chasing Ghosts: A GIS Analysis and Photographic Comparison of Vandalism and Site Degradation in Range Creek Canyon, Utah,” Utah Museum of Natural History Occasional Papers 2006-1 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 2006).

[5]. James M. Aton, The River Knows Everything: Desolation Canyon and the Green (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2009).