Volume 83, Number 4 (Fall Issue):
Published since 1928, the Utah Historical Quarterly is the state’s premier history journal and the source for reliable, engaging Utah history. Join the Historical Society for your own copy.
Each issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly is accompanied with rich web supplements that introduce readers to sources, photos, interviews, and other engaging material. These “extras” are located at history.utah.gov/uhqextras.
WEB EXTRAS: See here
IN THIS ISSUE
John C. Frémont’s 1843–44 Western Expedition and Its Influence on Mormon Settlement in Utah
By Alexander L. Baugh
“Shadowy Figures about Whom Little Is Known”: Artists of the Simpson Expedition, 1858–59
Ephriam D. Dickson III
Love among the Fossils: Earl and Pearl Douglass at Dinosaur National Monument
Susan Rhoades Neel
Modern Wanderings along the Waterpocket Fold: The Diary of Ralph Becker
When John C. Frémont viewed the Great Salt Lake—“the waters of the Inland Sea”—for the first time, his eyes caught hold of dark objects against the water. The next evening the men in his party speculated on what they might find on the islands: flowing springs, wild game, “a tangled wilderness of trees and shrubbery.” All exploration marries, to some degree, reality and imagination, discovery and perception. Such speculation may have reflected the observation of Frémont’s contemporary, Henry David Thoreau, that while “we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable.” They eventually reached one of the islands which turned out to be merely rocky and barren—what Frémont christened Disappointment Island, since it clearly did not satisfy expectations.
Frémont’s explorations established that the Great Salt Lake had no outlet to the sea, and his reports, written in scientific yet romantic prose, introduced readers to the Far West. As our lead article suggests, Frémont’s explorations left a profound influence on the western landscape—and perhaps nowhere more so than in Utah. Brigham Young and LDS leaders pored over the published contents of Frémont’s 1843–44 expedition into the Great Basin. On the basis of the report, the Great Salt Lake Valley became the new Mormon homeland in 1847. Not surprisingly, Frémont sometimes made errors in his reporting, as when he surmised, having only viewed its southern shore, that Utah Lake was a freshwater arm of the Great Salt Lake.
After Frémont, other federal surveyors funded by the U.S. Army—notably Captain Howard Stansbury, First Lieutenant John W. Gunnison, and Captain James H. Simpson—left their mark in Utah. Of these, perhaps less known is Simpson, a topographical engineer charged to identify a new road across the west Utah desert. That route became a portion of the Pony Express and, later, the Lincoln Highway. But, as our second article makes clear, the Simpson expedition was also significant for its photographs and sketches. Neither Simpson’s report nor the accompanying sketches and photographs saw the light of day until published in 1876; until now historians knew next to nothing about Simpson’s artist, H. V. A. Von Beckh, or photographers C. C. Mills and Edward Jagiello.
Our third article carries the theme of exploration and adventure into the twentieth century with the story of Earl and Pearl Douglass. Earl Douglass worked his way from a meager Minnesota childhood to become a scientist for the Carnegie Museum and discover, in 1909, the deposit of fossils that would become Dinosaur National Monument. Along the slow road to these accomplishments, Earl met Pearl Goetschius, whom he married in 1905 after a decade of courtship. Together they founded a homestead in the Uintah Basin called Dinosaur Ranch. They fell in love with the area, and their only son enjoyed a child’s paradise on the ranch. Yet the Douglasses experienced many difficulties on the homestead and in relation to the Carnegie Museum, which would have a keen impact on the family’s life. Not only a tale of outdoor adventure, this article is also a bittersweet account of perseverance throughout a lifetime of trouble and achievement.
Our final piece speaks to the lighter side of exploration and adventure through excerpts of Ralph Becker’s travel diary in the backcountry of Capitol Reef National Park. Later becoming Salt Lake City’s mayor, Becker was a master’s student in geography and planning at the University of Utah when he set out to traverse the entire length of the Waterpocket Fold, a prominent north-to-south geologic uplift, in 1980. Traveling about 170 miles, Becker along the way provides commentary on what he saw and felt, offering us a glimpse into one man’s intimate encounter with Utah’s wild lands.
Each of the stories in this issue belongs to a larger history of exploration. They reveal the deep human impulse to forge new trails or trace and reimagine existing ones, whether in a physical or metaphorical sense.
Paul Reeve, Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness. Reviewed by Christine Talbot
Armando Solórzano, We Remember, We Celebrate, We Believe: Latinos in Utah. Reviewed by Jennifer Macias
Douglas D. Alder, comp., Honoring Juanita Brooks: A Compilation of 30 Annual Presentations from the Juanita Brooks Lecture Series, 1984–2014. Reviewed by Gary Topping
Charles Caldwell Hawley, A Kennecott Story: Three Mines, Four Men, and One Hundred Years, 1897–1997. Reviewed by Philip F. Notarianni
Paula Kelly Harline, The Polygamous Wives Writing Club: From the Diaries of Mormon Pioneer Women. Reviewed by Jeff Nichols
Elwin C. Robison with W. Randall Dixon, Gathering as One: The History of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. Reviewed by Emily Utt
David Vaughan Mason, Brigham Young: Sovereign in America
Monte Bona, ed., Legends, Lore, and True Tales in Mormon Country
Gary Kimball, Life under China Bridge and Other Stories of Minorities in Old Park City