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Moshoquop, the Avenger, as Loyal Friend

Editor’s Note:

Following the events of the Gunnison Massacre in October 1853, most white settlers concluded that Moshoquop was a blood-thirsty “savage.” This article by Josiah F. Gibbs, however, describes his personal experiences with the Pahvant chief, which offer a completely different view. In order to save the lives of his “whitemen” guests from other hostile Indians camped nearby, Moshoquop risked his own life and that of his entire tribe, unbeknownst to his sleeping guests. Read on to discover the depths of Moshoquop’s compassion, loyalty, brotherhood, and gracious dignity.

 

http://www.trueindianstories.com/gunnison-massacre.php

http://www.trueindianstories.com/ gunnison-massacre.php

“Moshoquop, the Avenger, as Loyal Friend,” by Josiah F. Gibbs

Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 2, January, 1929, Number 1

From left to right: Charles Kelly, Josiah F. Gibbs, Frank Beckwith - at Marysvale, Utah. Josiah F. Gibbs authored a book on the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Frank Beckwith was the editor of the Millard County Chronicle, an archeologist, geologist, and authority on Lake Bonneville. Charles Kelly was a printer, artist, author, historian, the first superintendent of Capitol Reef National Park.

From left to right: Charles Kelly, Josiah F. Gibbs, Frank Beckwith – at Marysvale, Utah. Josiah F. Gibbs authored a book on the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Frank Beckwith was the editor of the Millard County Chronicle, an archeologist, geologist, and authority on Lake Bonneville. Charles Kelly was a printer, artist, author, historian, the first superintendent of Capitol Reef National Park.

The July, 1928, number of the Utah Historical Quarterly carried a story of the Indian version of the Gunnison Massacre, 1853, near the present town of Deseret, Utah. The narrative left Moshoquop in the traditional light of a merciless, avenging savage, in whom persisted only the instincts and passions of primitive men—the heritage of almost limitless time and ancestry.

It will now be a labor of love and duty to unmask the relentless war-chief of the Pahvants, of whom Chief Kanosh was the intelligent, just and merciful leader, and re-introduce Moshoquop as a loyal friend and protector from beneath whose reserved and dignified exterior occasionally emerged examples of moral courage, loyalty and gratitude—unconscious manifestations of Christian virtues not too conspicuous in many professed followers of the peerless Son of Man.

Site of the Gunnison Massacre, where on Oct. 25, 1853 Capt. Gunnison and seven others were cruelly murdered by Indians. Located 6 miles west of Deseret and 15 miles from Delta, on the bank of the Sevier River. (Old marker) Donated by Charles Kelly.

Site of the Gunnison Massacre, where on Oct. 25, 1853 Capt. Gunnison and seven others were cruelly murdered by Indians. Located 6 miles west of Deseret and 15 miles from Delta, on the bank of the Sevier River. (Old marker) Photo donated by Charles Kelly.

A few glimpses of early life in Utah, and of my first intimate contact as a boy with the younger members of the Ute tribe, will form a fitting back-ground to the story of Moshoquop’s heroism, though in no specific way connecting with Moshoquop.

During the months of November and December, 1857, the year of our arrival in Utah, quite a large number of boys, whose homes were in North Salt Lake, were in the habit of daily bathing in the Warm Springs, to which I was an unfortunate addict. Frequently, the bath continued during several hours, when from the delicious temperature of the water we sprang to the edge of the pool, and urged by the generally ice-cold northwest winds donned our cotton shirts and pants, and shoes if sufficiently fortunate to have them, then raced to our respective homes, warmed by scrub cedar, or sagebrush from “over Jordan”—more often the latter. It was a miracle, the only I ever encountered, that pneumonia so rarely resulted from those sudden exits from nearly boiling water to zero atmosphere. However, along about Christmas, an acute attack of inflammatory rheumatism forced me to bed, and held me there until the early spring.

Then came the “Move”—see Utah histories, 1857-1858 (out of the way of Johnston’s Army). Father’s trek to the south ended at Summit creek, now Santaquin. Every house and nearly every habitable barn in central Utah was overflowing with refugees from northern Utah, who would remain, or move on, depending on the settlement of the slight misunderstanding with Uncle Sam, whose “army” of 2,500 men was in winter quarters at Fort Bridger. There was not a vacant room in Summit, and father made camp among the willows and cottonwoods near the creek, a few rods south of the village, where he built a rude shelter of interlaced willows and clay—“our” only “happy home” during five months.

A mile or so south of our not altogether uncomfortable “wickiup” a large encampment of Utes occupied both sides of the creek. (It was a question of “pulling through”—not of sanitation.)

Contrary to the general interpretation of Utah history, the winter of 1857-1858 was gloriously mild, dry and pleasant. Spring, with its alternations of warming sun, light clouds and warm rains, came early. One morning father moved me out for my first sun-bath. Fully clad, propped up with pillows and covered with quilts, free from pain, but still weak in my lower limbs, I looked out on my rediscovered world of majestic mountains, greening valley, with Utah lake, a few miles distant to the north, glinting in the early morning sunlight.

Presently there came to my super-sensitive ear drums the faint pit-pat of human feet. With easy, swinging strides a slender Indian boy was approaching from the south. He paused at the foot of my cot and keenly looked at the rheumatic invalid. A year or so my senior (I was nearing my 13th year), his frank, happy, boyish face had not hardened into the grave, immobile features of the older men of his tribe, nor had his soul yet been seared by legendary tales of tribal wars, of pillaged and burned villages, of murdered squaws and papooses.

“Heap sick?” he abruptly asked. “No,” I replied, “legs sick,” and waved my arms as evidence that I was all right above my hips, then explained as best I could the nature of my affliction. He nodded understandingly. Doubtless, he had daily passed to and fro over the Indian path to the village, and had seen members of my family, and had learned of the presence of the sick “Mormon” papoose. Doubtless, he realized my craving for companionship and decided to gratify it.

After setting a target at a distance of about 25 feet, he returned to the side of my cot and gave me my first lesson in the use of bow and arrow shooting. During an hour or two the Indian boy chased arrows for his pupil, manifesting as keen delight when, by accident, I made a close or center shot, as if made by himself.

At about the same hour next morning my Indian friend was at my cot-side. Again he chased arrows for me, and shared my boyish pleasure at evidences of rapid improvement.

A few days of penetrating sun-rays, exercise of my arms and body, and mild perspiration—thanks to the ingenious method of the Indian boy, figuratively, “put me on my feet.” With his aid I was soon able to walk, and then began our hunting tramps for rabbits and other small game. One morning my companion surprised me with a gift of a beautiful bow, made from mountain sheep horn, backed by sinew, and a dozen or so cane arrows, tipped with greasewood spikes. It was a priceless token of friendship that in memory has never dimmed. Frequently I was at the Indian camp, and mingled freely with the youngsters and their parents. During those often all-day visits I heard no “back-talk” from children to their parents, nor of quarreling. Socially, their intercourse was frank, open-hearted and generous—entirely free from affectation, egotism and hypocrisy.

Such was my first experience among the redmen, and today, while awaiting the final sunset, that first intimate contact with the Ute Indians is one of the most cherished memories of my life.

Early in June, “Johnston’s army” had passed through the silent city of Salt Lake, and on to Camp Floyd. Danger of conflict had passed, and father returned to Salt Lake. Five years afterward our family moved to Fillmore, where frequent contacts with the redmen continued for more than a score of years.

The chief objective of a visit to the mountains made by father and me, July 3, 1871, far back in the Pahvant Range, was to explore North fork of Chalk creek for saw-timber, with the view of building a sawmill, provided accessible timber justified. The minor incentive was that of quietly passing Independence Day within the forest and shadows of Nature’s “templed hills.”

Old emigrant road coming into Chalk Creek from Ft. Bridger. This road crosses Chalk Creek going toward Echo Canyon. Donor & Photog: Charles Kelly.

Old emigrant road coming into Chalk Creek from Ft. Bridger. This road crosses Chalk Creek going toward Echo Canyon. Photo donated by Charles Kelly.

We ascended the South fork to Cherry creek, where the road ended. Following the ancient trail to the head of Cherry creek, we emerged from the canyon onto the open, grass-covered summit of the Pahvant range an hour or so before sunset.

To the north a half-mile or so distant, a band of Indian ponies was quietly grazing on the smooth divide, which proved the presence of the owners, and evidently right in the way of our crossing over into the North fork.

Five years had passed since Black Hawk and about 200 of his renegade warriors had raided Scipio, killed two of the residents, and driven away 400-500 head of cattle and horses. But five years were not enough to dim one’s memory of the tragedy, nor of the strenuous pursuit by Captain James C. Owen’s cavalry, in which I had participated. I suggested a retreat to the friendly depths of Cherry creek canyon. Father protested that the Pahvants were our friends; that doubtless the Indians whoever they might be, had discovered our presence, therefore it were better that we “face the music.” (There was a marked difference between father and me—he was confiding, while I have ever bristled with interrogation points.)

On arriving at the summit of the divide, we were greeted with shouts of welcome from a small band of Pahvants who, accompanied by their squaws and papooses, were on a hunting expedition. They were camped near a large spring, a hundred fifty yards or so down the hillside. Beyond, and about the same distance to the northeast, was another and larger encampment. Two incongruous details attracted my attention—if they were Pahvants, why did they camp apart, and where were the women and children of the second band?

We rode down to the nearest camp and received hearty welcomes from Moshoquop and his companions. Narrient, brother of Moshoquop, and Nimrod, so-named by whitemen, and a prized friend of the writer, were the other hunters whose names are now remembered. It was from Nimrod that, subsequently, the interpretation of the mystifying incidents of that evening and early morning at Moshoquop’s camp was obtained.

With genuine hospitality Moshoquop requested a couple of young hunters to relieve our tired horses of their equipment and picket them nearby. Father suggested hobbling, but for reasons then unknown, Moshoquop insisted on picketing, then turned to his wife; “Ruth, Gibb and boy hungry, cook deer meat.” Ruth had been reared in a pioneer family, but instinct, and love for the war-chief, had impelled a reversion to the life of her ancestors.

It was hardly dusk when father suggested spreading our blankets, and asked our host where it would be most convenient. Moshoquop assisted in carrying our blankets, saddles and rifles to the south side of a huge log, assisted in spreading the blankets—head to north against the log, then remarked, “Tie sareech (dog) here,” indicating an upright limb at the head of the bed. “Mebbeso steal deer meat,” was the reason given by the warchief. (“Victor,” a large New Foundland cross, because of his size and exceptional friendliness, was a general favorite among the redmen, and had been well fed by the Indian children. “Tie sareech here,” was a mere detail of Moshoquop’s unrevealed program.) He then advised against removing our clothing, “Morning heap cold,” he said, and returned to his wickiup, a hundred feet or so distant.

Father was well along in life, not accustomed to horseback riding, was soon soundly sleeping. While not apprehending danger, there was a sub-conscious realization that in Moshoquop’s detailed arrangement of our bed, the nearness of Victor—our “night guard,” the convenience of our fire-arms and nearby horses, suggested preparations for a fight or flight, perhaps both. But why?

Another enigma: Moshoquop had not imparted the slightest information regarding the identity of the occupants of the other camp, none of whom had visited the Pahvants during the evening. Finally I slept, but frequently disturbed by Victor’s cold nose on my cheek.

It was well along towards morning, when it is “darkest just before day,” that I was awakened by Moshoquop’s stentorian voice. Standing by the small campfire, the fitful flames of which added a singular weirdness to the scene and hour, Moshoquop, his body erect as the pines of his native forest, was facing the camp of the stranger Indians, but seemingly addressing his remarks to the night-enveloped wilderness.

Father arose to a sitting posture, rubbed his eyes to convince himself that he was not dreaming, then asked, “What is that sleepless savage talking about?” I replied that apparently he had just begun an address to the departing night, or of welcome to the approaching day—that I was equally mystified as himself. Even for an Indian, the war-chief was exceptionally reticent. But out into the darkness of that memorable night his words rolled and vibrated in typically Indian eloquence. (Could the people generally listen to a phonographic record of Moshoquop’s impassioned oration, with its vivid coloring and life-like verbal pictures, and understand, they would absolve the North American Indians of their wholesale indictment of “savages”—they would blush for shame at the treatment accorded them in the past, and which, except in rare instances, and with hardly less cruelty, yet persists.)

Moshoquop described the condition of his people prior to the advent of the pioneers. He told of the suffering and death of his tribesmen during the long and severe winters when the snow lay deep on the ground, and driven by the fierce winds how it drifted into their wickiups, putting out their small fires, covering their scant bedding, and often burying the aged, sick and infirm; how their supplies of food, stored for winter use, were often exhausted weeks in advance of the melting snow.

The war-chief then spoke of the coming of the white settlers “with hearts like squaws;” of their pity for the ignorance and poverty of the redmen; how, from their also scanty supplies, they divided their food and clothing with them; that when their papooses were sick the white mothers gave them milk, nursed them back to life, and taught the dark-skinned mothers how to take better care of their children. Moshoquop’s closing words yet ring in my ears, they were:

“And before we will permit harm to our white brothers, the Pahvants will die.”

A year after the events just narrated, Nimrod told me that the strange Indians were trespassers from Wayne county—a fragment of Black Hawk’s band of thieves and murderers; that after father and I had retired, they proposed that Moshoquop permit our assassination, and the appropriation of our horses, guns and other equipment.

The Black Hawk renegades outnumbered Moshoquop’s warriors at least two to one, therefore the careful preparations for our escape in the event of trouble. And in his silence thereafter concerning his intervention for our safety, we find in Moshoquop a delicacy of feeling in shielding us from any sense of obligation to him that is rare among civilized men.

And such was the dual nature of the merciless leader of the Gunnison Massacre.

Growing Up Railroad: Remembering Echo City

Editor’s Note: In an award-winning essay, Robert S. Mikkelsen paints a colorful portrait of life in his hometown, a key refueling railroad stop for locomotives traveling between Ogden, Utah, and Evanston, Wyoming. Born in 1925 and raised as an end-of-the-track townie in Echo, Utah, Mikkelsen highlights the intricate connection that he and his peers felt to the robust engines that defined their whole lives and the town’s very existence. He reflects on the smells, sights, and sounds radiating from machines that to him appeared to be alive. He revisits childhood memories of playing outdoor games on soot-packed platforms, getting in trouble with track torpedoes instead of fireworks, building forts out of railroad ties, and passing the time “celebrity watching” at the station. Overall, Mikkelsen’s account provides an interesting insider look at how the Union Pacific steam engine station defined Echo’s cultural, social, and economic experience for nearly a century.

The text of the essay, originally published in the fall 1994 issue of Utah Historical Quarterly, is reproduced below, accompanied by photographs from the Utah State Historical Society.

 

The author, right, on his eleventh birthday with his friend Gene Roberts.

The author, right, on his eleventh birthday with his friend Gene Roberts. Photographs are courtesy of the author unless credited otherwise.

“Growing Up Railroad: Remembering Echo City,” by Robert S. Mikkelsen

Having grown up with the sounds of a close-passing freight, I felt my usual tug of nostalgia as I listened to one go barreling by that had me stopped at a Union Pacific railroad crossing. The ground-shaking rumble, the whine of iron wheels on rails, the creaks, rattles, and metallic squeals were all indelibly familiar. But some basic sound that used to be there, one just below the threshold of memory, was missing. For several days I could not recapture it. Then, while I was driving along a highway that parallels a stretch of Union Pacific tracks, I saw, rather than heard, what it had been.

Rails in today’s Union Pacific tracks are laid in quarter-mile lengths, leaving only eight joints in a whole mile of track. When trains made the sound I was trying to remember, they were laid in thirty-nine-foot lengths, the joint between two rails on one side of the track occurring at the exact center of the rail on the opposite side. You would hear the two wheels on one side of a four-wheel set click-click over a joint; then, nineteen and a half feet later, hear the two on the other side click-click over one. At a slow speed the sound was click-click click-click click-click click-click. Faster it became a constant clicketyclickclicketyclick—the underscoring rhythm that Union Pacific trains made when I was a boy.

Recalling that vintage American sound brought back a host of other memories from my boyhood in Utah’s oldest railroad town, Echo City. All that remains of the town now are a scattering of artifacts—the schoolhouse, the church, two cafes, and a few houses. The town itself, with all its noise and grime and vitality, has been gone for forty years. It vanished completely when the great age of railroad steam ended. But none of us who were kids in the old town will ever forget it or wish we had grown up somewhere else.

Echo City began no differently than dozens of other end-of-track towns that sprang up along the Union Pacific line in 1868-69. I have a blurry photograph of the first Echo City: a dozen tents with board fronts, all lined up on a muddy street alongside the tracks. But unlike most of those “hell-on-wheels” camps, Echo City became a permanent railroad town.

What made it thrive was the grade between Ogden and Evanston, Wyoming. Gaining 2,500 feet in only seventy miles, it is one of the steepest on the line. Eastbound locomotives hauling loads would use two-thirds of their coal and water getting up the first forty miles to Echo City. To refuel them for the next thirty miles to Evanston (which were even steeper), a coal tower and a water tower were built at Echo City. The rest of the town grew around them.

By 1880 Echo City had a huge steam-driving pump to fill the water tower from the Weber River, a depot, a switch yard, a turntable for locomotives, two sheds for section gangs and signal maintainers, houses for railroad workers, a hotel, a school, and a church. The structure that completed the town was a giant water softener tank that kept the hard Weber River water from leaving scale in boilers. It was finished in 1926, the year I was born. I expanded the town’s population to 153.

Echo City ca. 1925.

Echo City ca. 1925.

My earliest and most enduring memories of Echo City are of the grand old steam locomotives that were always somewhere in our town yards. Joe E. Collias, author of The Last of Steam, believes that they were the most human of all man’s creations. I doubt that any of us in Echo City regarded them as human, but it would have been hard not to feel they had life. When I was five I saw one in the Ogden roundhouse waiting to be repaired. Its fire had been pulled and its boiler drained. It looked dead. I wanted to get away from it.

Their massiveness, their billowing smoke, their clouds of steam, their headlights tunneling through the dark, the blurred motion of their wheels and side rods, even their sheen of oil and coal dust have been captured in countless photographs. I do not have to depend on memory to picture how they looked.

But only memory brings back their smells and sounds and feel. Hot metal and oil were their essence, often overpowered by a dense coal gas that made you hold your breath until it cleared, leaving a thick aftertaste. If you were standing close enough, a steam blow-off could drench your clothes and burn your nose and throat. And they routinely showered you with hot, sulfury cinders. (A few always got down your neck before you could pinch your collar tight. A hot one in your eye would stick to the eyeball. The only thing that would lift it off was the charred end of a sharpened matchstick.)

I can still hear the clanking of their rods, the heavy grind of their drivers, the beat of steam exhaust pistoning up their stacks. Even an engine waiting on a sidetrack was busy with sounds. (We rarely called them locomotives; for us they were simply engines.) There would be little rolling surges in its boiler, the clunk of air compressor pistons working, and the constant hiss of steam escaping from somewhere. A deep glow was always in the firebox, a breath of smoke exhaling up the stack. When an engineer invited you up into the cab you could feel an occasional shiver through the steel plates under your feet. Alive. There was no other way to think of them.

By the time we were old enough for school we kids in Echo City felt gratitude as well as affection for the old steam engines, for we knew by then that they were what had created jobs for our fathers, brothers, and uncles. Engineers, firemen, pumpers, coal tower operators, telegraphers, signal maintainers and section hands—none of them would be needed without engines and trains. And we would not have our town.

I was in the first grade when I heard a mean woman on Our Gal Sunday (an old radio soap opera) say that Sunday had been born on the wrong side of the tracks. In Echo City both sides of the track were okay to be born on, so I could not figure out what she meant. I finally decided it was just one of those things adults sometimes said that kids were not supposed to understand. By the time I knew what the expression really meant, I also knew that people who went by appearances would think our whole town was on the wrong side of the tracks. Our most socially enterprising building was a crumbling, two-story brick hotel with peeling wood trim. All the railroad buildings were a dingy Union Pacific yellow, and the looming coal and water towers were a dull, smoky black. A haze of coal smoke usually hung over the town, and cinders got into everything, even the roots of our lawns. And to the despair of Echo City’s wives and mothers, their husbands and children usually looked a little sooty.

The only thing in our town that bothered us kids were our houses. Made out of clapboards and either painted with “U.P. yellow” or covered with tarpaper, they were not as nice as the houses in neighboring towns. But as we were often told, they were roofs over our heads. And we were constantly assured that houses were not as important as steady jobs. That’s what our town had. A lot of towns with better houses did not.

The paychecks our fathers brought home every two weeks were barely big enough to feed and clothe us—something else we heard a lot—but they were “regular.” That seemed to make up for their size. Our parents had a saying that could have been our town motto: “Uncle Peter [our slang for Union Pacific] keeps us, but he keeps us poor.” But if our parents sometimes felt that the railroad kept them poor, we boys never did. It kept us rich in things to do.

The cinders that permeated the town gave us a double sport playing field—basketball and marbles—that our friends in neighboring towns envied. About half the size of a regulation basketball court, it was located at the west end of town just beyond the depot’s freight platform. Its cinders (an accumulation of sixty years) were over a foot deep, packed hard and smooth by the iron wheels of baggage carts.

You could dribble a basketball on our cinders almost as well as you could on a gym floor. The only thing bad about them was that they got imbedded in your knees and elbows when you took a hard fall on them. Having them tweezered out hurt, but that was nothing compared to the swabbing with turpentine that followed. Our mothers had gallons of it, compliments of the Bridge and Building Gang. It was the disinfectant they trusted.

Those cinders also made the greatest surface that marbles have ever been played on. Marbles were seasonal, played every spring just after the snow had melted. That was when cinders were the softest and most resilient. Your taw would roll absolutely true on them, and you could control its momentum perfectly. On spring cinders we could hit another player’s taw with regularity six feet away and knock marbles out of a ring twelve feet in diameter. With up to a dozen of us playing, a single marble game might go on for several days before it could be finished. I remember winning a three-day game that had built up a pot of 163 marbles.

An all-day marble game is about to begin on the combination marble and basketball court.

An all-day marble game is about to begin on the combination marble and basketball court.

Since the mainline eastbound track was one of the boundaries of our playing field, both basketball and marbles were constantly interrupted by trains. All play had to be suspended while they were moving. That was a rule that had been pounded into us, along with two others: make sure you have plenty of time before you cross a track on which a train is moving or stopped. They were unwritten rules that were never challenged. And nobody in Echo Canyon was ever injured by a train.

We were constantly warned that one of our favorite railroad toys—the track torpedo—was dangerous. But that just added to the fun we had with it. Track torpedoes were percussion caps that clipped onto the ball of a rail. They were always set in twos, three joints apart, on the engineer’s side of the track. When they went off they signaled him that a dangerous track condition or a stalled train was close ahead.

Made to explode under the impact of a locomotive pilot wheel, they were difficult to detonate off the track. They had to be placed on an unyielding surface and struck with something that could deliver a sledgehammer blow. And when they exploded you wanted to be well back from their flash and flying bits, for they packed nearly as much power as a dynamite cap.

We invented a way to explode them that never got us hurt and made a great game. We called it “bomber.” Our main source for torpedoes were trainmen’s flagging kits, left unwatched where we could get at them. We never dared take more than one or two torpedoes at a time. So we had to save them up. Four or five were enough for a game. We always played bomber high in the sandstone cliffs on the west side of Echo Canyon, about a mile from town. (We needed to be that far away. The sound of a torpedo really carried, and adult ears in Echo City knew it when they heard it.) Our “range” was a smooth, wide ledge at the base of a hundred-foot cliff. We placed our torpedoes on the ledge about six feet apart, climbed to the top of the cliff where we could look down and see them, and made our bombs. These were rounded quartzite rocks weighing between ten and twenty pounds with crackerjack whistles taped to them. Even when a bomb missed, it sounded great whistling down to the ledge. When it hit a torpedo, there was a big orange flash and a magnificent boom that reverberated among the cliffs. (Echo Canyon was named for the clarity of echoes given back by these cliffs.) Bomber. A secret game that only Echo City boys knew how to play.

And we may have been the only boys who used railroad ties for building blocks. A communal tie pile at the east end of town kept us supplied with them. We built an elaborate fort out of them that we used for slingshot warfare in the summer (our ammunition was crab apples, cherries, plums, and small clusters of red currants, elderberries, or haws) and snowballing in the winter. We also built a very private railroad tie clubhouse as far up Echo Canyon as we could drag the ties. (A used railroad tie weighed between 80 and 100 pounds.)

And on the Weber River, where it bent in closest to town, we made our Mississippi River rafts. These were twenty- to thirty- tie rafts, big enough for a shelter and a dirt fire pit. When we had got all the fun we wanted out of collecting our cargo—we trapped furs on the upper Missouri and made whiskey in our secret Tennessee stills—we took it down the Big Muddy, clear to New Orleans (a landing about three miles below town). Our abandoned rafts became fence posts after they reached Henefer, a small farming town a couple of miles farther down the river.

Every town has a rite of passage through which little boys can become big boys. Ours was, I think, unique. It required you to scale a vertical iron ladder to the top of the water tower and sit there, a hundred feet above the town, for a timed ten minutes. The rite had to be performed at night, very quietly, under a vow of secrecy. Climbing that cold iron ladder in the dark with sweaty hands was only slightly more dangerous than having your parents find out you had done it.

Some of the men in Echo City played a game more secret and forbidden than any of ours. We boys could not participate in it or even watch, but we knew what it was and enjoyed vicariously its brash daring. It demanded a very special set of circumstances that rarely occurred.

First, there had to be a wooden, wine tank car in the middle of a long eastbound freight. Second, the freight’s helper engine had to be at the rear of the train. Third, the train had to pull into town after midnight but at least an hour before dawn. There was an Ogden dispatcher who would send word when a train meeting all these requirements was coming. Then, if it was a dark night, the game was on.

It began when the freight’s head engine left the coal tower and pulled slowly around Pulpit Rock Curve. It would stop when the helper engine whistled, signaling that it had reached the coal tower. By then most of the train would be in Echo Canyon, well away from town. And waiting for the tank car to stop would be Echo City’s crack wine gang, armed with braces, half-inch bits, pre-shaped hardwood plugs, hammers, shovels, and gallon lard cans.

As soon as a lard can brigade was formed and ready, two or three holes were drilled through the oak staves in the bottom half of the tank. The stream of “California red” that shot from each hole would fill a gallon can in seconds. After all the cans had been filled, plugs were hammered into the holes. Swelled with wine they wouldn’t leak, even under tremendous pressure. When the train got underway again, making enough noise to muffle the sound of shoveling, the spillage was covered with dirt from the roadbed. (But never all of it. For several days the site would look and smell as if a huge vinegary animal had been slaughtered there.) After the caboose was safely by, a toast was always drunk to Uncle Peter’s bounty. As the most sordid secret our town ever had, the wine gang may have attested more to our innocence than our depravity.

The head engine of an eastbound freight has stopped just around Pulpit Rock Curve. Its helper engine is at the coal tower. At the far left is the smokestack of the pumphouse. The wine gang would strike somewhere along this stretch of track. USHS collections.

The head engine of an eastbound freight has stopped just around Pulpit Rock Curve. Its helper engine is at the coal tower. At the far left is the smokestack of the pumphouse. The wine gang would strike somewhere along this stretch of track. USHS collections.

The sport that boys, girls, moms, dads, and even grandparents participated in was ice skating. We skated from the time the ice froze solid enough to hold us until it slushed up in the spring. The Echo Reservoir, a mile or so east of town, was our favorite ice, and when we were out on it we looked like a Currier and Ives print, all of us with stocking caps and long scarves, one arm behind our backs, cruising gracefully on those wonderful old clamp-on skates with curved up blades. And we could take pride in being good skaters.

In addition to the usual pleasures of skating, there was a special one for us—time away from the railroad. It felt good to be totally caught up in an activity that had nothing to do with railroading, to have no more of it in our lives than an occasional steam whistle a long mile away. It was like time apart from someone you live with and love, but need to get away from once in awhile.

But my most vivid skating memory is not of being on the Echo Reservoir, blissfully away from the railroad, but of getting back to town and our pumphouse. The pumphouse was a long, narrow building with a concrete floor and railroad tie walls. A locomotive boiler and firebox sat in one end, and bolted to the floor in the other was a huge steam pump that sucked water from the Weber River and pumped it up into the water tower. A work bench with several vices mounted on it ran along one wall, and tools of every kind were shelved handily above it. A hose coupled to a live steam pipe was our all-purpose cleaner; we used it for everything from the grease on our engine blocks to the creosote in the knees of our overalls. And curtained off in one corner was the town’s only hot shower. (Scalding hot. You always turned on the cold Weber River water first.) There was also a valve you could turn to shoot steam out of the shower head. It relieved congestion in a lot of Echo City chests. Workshop, bathhouse, vaporizer, and steam cleaner, our pumphouse was indispensable.

On Saturdays we skated from early afternoon until well after dark, long enough to burn up all our heat cells, and then we faced a mile walk through the snow, usually into a wind blowing up Weber Canyon. By the time we got to the pumphouse we were in the first stage of hypothermia. Crowding inside (there might be as many as twenty of us) we circled the boiler, getting as close to it as its heat would allow. I will always be able to see the light from the firebox dancing on the ceiling, smell the beads of creosote that had sweated out of the walls, and hear an occasional rumble in the boiler loud enough to drown out our voices.

Once I wrote an essay about our pumphouse for my seventh-grade teacher. I said that sometimes it took care of us like a big womb, a simile she said was “very inappropriate.” But she had never been with us on a freezing Saturday night when we huddled against the boiler and drew in its humid warmth. I still think our pumphouse was the closest thing to a womb a town ever had.

Another popular pastime in Echo City was celebrity watching. The luxurious Union Pacific passenger trains that carried America’s rich and famous back and forth across the country not only passed through our town but, if eastbound, stopped in it long enough to coal and water.

Once in awhile a famous face would be spotted on a daytime train, but most sightings were made on summer evenings after dark, when we gathered on the depot lawn where we could relax on the cool grass and give passengers a thorough scrutiny. About twenty car lengths back from the coal tower, the depot lawn was perfectly positioned to place us alongside the dining car and lounge car when they came to a stop. They were always the last two cars in the train, both brightly lighted.

We would skim the windows of the dining car and then concentrate on the lounge car. A lighted lounge car was always a good show. Just at dark it would be full of passengers—smoking, drinking, conversing, flirting, primping, modeling their clothes, and trying not to stare at each other too obviously. They watched themselves more intently and covertly than we did. (We never felt like waifs looking through a bakery window. We weren’t that sure we wanted to be like the people we saw. If we had their money, would we act as silly and showy as they did?)

Most of the celebrities we saw were movie stars, and Echo City girls were the first to pick them out. They were avid readers of magazines like Silver Screen and Photoplay, and they recognized instantly any actor or actress whose picture they had seen. Our parents were better at identifying the occasional politician, and we boys knew our sports heroes. An up-to-date list of sightings was posted in the depot.

I personally saw Silvia Sidney, Claudette Colbert, and Jack Dempsey. The sighting that caused the most excitement in town was Eleanor Roosevelt. She was still being talked about a week after she had been seen on Challenger #10’s diner, eating what looked like a salad.

Eastbound passenger train

Eastbound passenger train #14 taking on fuel from Echo City’s coal tower

 

It was an eastbound passenger train that brought me my first love, about noon on July 25, 1939, two days before my thirteenth birthday. I was standing outside the window of the depot agent’s office, checking to see if my new bicycle had arrived, when I saw her get off. No conductor or porter was there to help her down. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She was tall, at least 5’5,” with marcelled blonde hair and blue eyes. She wore a blue dress with a pleated skirt and matching pumps that had heels so sharp they sank into the cinders. She had a perky hat with a veil and a genuine alligator purse. She had been crying but looked mostly mad by the time she got to the depot. I followed her into the depot waiting room. She went straight to the ticket window and bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles. The name she gave was Ginger Jones. When the depot agent asked where her baggage was, she said, “On that train,” and waved in the direction of the eastbound passenger, which by then was on its way out of town. “I’ll get it taken off at Evanston and have it put on your train,” the depot agent told her. “If you can,” she said, like it didn’t matter much, and went and sat down.

Being in the waiting room with her was making me a little dizzy, so I went out on the depot lawn. I knew why she had gotten off the train the way she did. Somebody on that train had been going to do something bad to her, or make her do something bad. She got off to save her virtue. That had to be it. I would watch over her until her train came.

At one o’clock she walked up to the Echo Hotel, where she ate a toasted cheese sandwich, drank a cup of coffee, and bought two magazines—True Confessions and Spicy Detective. She read them in the waiting room, sighing a little at something in True Confessions. From outside—I was leaning casually against the wall next to a window—all I could see of her was her back. It was really pretty. At two-thirty she asked the depot agent something and got an answer that seemed to shock her a little. When she came out and turned south, I knew what he had said. He had told her the depot did not have an inside toilet. I thought she would like the outside one. It was the nicest one in town, a big, roomy four holer, two in the women’s side and two in the men’s. The women’s side had a strong inside latch, and it got scrubbed clean once a week. But when she saw it she said, “Good gawwwd.”

I wished she hadn’t sworn, but it didn’t change the way I felt about her. When she went back into the waiting room, she gave her hands an elegant little wash in the drinking fountain, the only running water in the depot, and went back to her reading. The depot agent stopped the second section of westbound #9 for her at four-thirty. I got as close as I could to the waiting room door when she left the depot. I wanted a last smell of her perfume. But I got much more than that. When she passed me, she reached out and touched my shoulder. “Goodbye, Kid,” she said, “you can go home now.” My new bicycle seemed unimportant when it came the next day.

That isn’t all of the story. Two months later I saw her in a chorus line in a big Hollywood musical. I went back to see it three times to make sure it was Ginger. For several years I sat through every musical that came out of Hollywood but never saw her again. Or forgot her.

My boyhood officially ended three months after Pearl Harbor. That was when the Union Pacific, hard pressed to keep its tracks maintained under the huge increase in traffic created by the war effort, decided to let high school boys who could pass a railroad physical work weekends and summers on section gangs. Ten-hour days, forty-three cents an hour. Money like that and a chance to be “workin’ on the railroad,” were irresistible. Section #430 (the 430th section gang west of Omaha) hired me to work weekends in March of 1942. For me playtime in Echo City was over. From then until I graduated from North Summit High School, I spent my weekends and summer vacations working on the five miles of track west of Echo City.

On June 3, 1944, a small group gathered by the depot to see me off to Navy boot camp on westbound #21. I knew I would miss my family and friends, but I did not expect to miss Echo City. I thought the Navy would make me too sophisticated to miss a cindery little railroad town, but I was dead wrong. I missed everything in it, from the grindstone in the pumphouse that I sharpened my jack knife on to our lighted Christmas star that hung on the coal tower. I would choke up when I remembered how a puff of engine smoke would turn the Star-of-Bethlehem into a shapeless blur.

It was during South Pacific sessions of “what I miss most about my home town” that I realized how deeply the railroad had become part of me. Sailors who missed the ordinary American things, like the smell of burning leaves in the fall or Saturday night dances, could not understand how badly I wanted to see rails in the summer sun, so bright they hurt your eyes, or hear a spike being driven by somebody who could handle a maul.

When I returned to Echo City in 1946 it was the same town I had left. Everything I had missed so much was still there. But I knew it would not be for very long. New technology had taken away our town’s future. More and more diesel engines, which did not need to refuel in Echo City on their way from Ogden to the Wyoming plains, were hauling both passengers and freight. The age of railroad steam was coming to a close. In the spring of 1960 Echo City coaled and watered its last Union Pacific locomotive.

Echo City's classic depot is now a senior citizens' center in Coalville, Utah. From the depot lawn Echo residents often saw famous people in the dining and lounge cars.

Echo City’s classic depot is now a senior citizens’ center in Coalville, Utah. From the depot lawn Echo residents often saw famous people in the dining and lounge cars.

I was there, standing on the depot lawn with my mother and dad, watching it go through town. When it whistled away from the coal tower, bound for Cheyenne and the cutting torch, we knew our wonderful old town was going with it. There was nothing we were able to say to each other as it disappeared around Pulpit Rock Curve. But a lot to remember.

At the time of this essay’s publication, Dr. Mikkelsen was an emeritus professor of English, Weber State University. This article won first prize in the 1994 Utah Arts Council’s Original Writing Competition, personal essay category.

 

Echo Dam, 1935. Gift of Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. Used in Utah Historical Quarterly, Vol. 39-3 summer, 1971. Used in "Utah Historical Quarterly" Vol. 39-3 (Summer, 1971)

Echo Dam, 1935. Gift of Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. Used in Utah Historical Quarterly, Vol. 39-3, summer 1971.

 

Gift of Union Pacific Railroad. Pulpit Rock, Echo Canyon, in late 70s. Presented by Mr. D. S. Spencer, G. P. A., Salt Lake City, Utah.

Gift of Union Pacific Railroad. Pulpit Rock, Echo Canyon, in late 70s. Presented by Mr. D. S. Spencer, G. P. A., Salt Lake City, Utah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Echo City "City of Los Angeles" 1969 Union Pacific Railroad

Echo City “City of Los Angeles” 1969 Union Pacific Railroad. Digital Image © 2008 Utah State Historical Society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Casement Brothers and clerks at Echo City, Utah during the construction of the U.P.R.R. They were a well-known team, Jack being the field boss, driving the tracklayers at the front while Dan took care of the paper work making sure the men were paid and supplies were available. Dan stands in the doorway. Second and third clerks from the left were recently from military service as their pants mark them as veterans of the blue and the gray. Gift of M. J Burson. Photo by Andrew J. Russell. Used in U.H.Q. V. 40-3 Summer 1972.

Casement Brothers and clerks at Echo City, Utah during the construction of the U.P.R.R. They were a well-known team, Jack being the field boss, driving the tracklayers at the front while Dan took care of the paperwork making sure the men were paid and supplies were available. Dan stands in the doorway. Second and third clerks from the left were recently from military service as their pants mark them as veterans of the blue and the gray. Gift of M. J. Burson. Photo by Andrew J. Russell. Used in U.H.Q. V. 40-3 Summer 1972.

Men pose outside of Echo City office, Bishop Kennedy's office. Rich in transportation and communication history, Echo was settled in 1854 by James Bromley, station manager for the Overland Stage Company. In 1860 the Pony Express also used Echo as a station. In 1861 the Overland telegraph office set up an express station in Echo. The town boomed as the Union Pacific came through. It was hit hard by the 1929 depression and improved technology and the town died away. A small community still exists and the area is popular with tourists.

Men pose outside of Echo City office, Bishop Kennedy’s office. Rich in transportation and communication history, Echo was settled in 1854 by James Bromley, station manager for the Overland Stage Company. In 1860 the Pony Express also used Echo as a station. In 1861 the Overland telegraph office set up an express station in Echo. The town boomed as the Union Pacific came through. It was hit hard by the 1929 Depression and improved technology and the town died away. A small community still exists and the area is popular with tourists. Digital Image © 2010 Utah State Historical Society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Winter Acquaintance with Timpanogos, by Dean R. Brimhall

Editor’s Note:

Mount Timpanogos, towering over the sprawling development of Utah Valley and the placid waters of Utah Lake, is our state’s best-known peak—and has been for over a hundred years. In the first decades of the twentieth century, local hikers and students began to recreate on it.

The essay reproduced below, published in the fall 1981 issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly, is the first account of which we are aware of a winter ascent. Two local men reveled in the challenge and danger of scaling the mount’s face in deep snow. After reaching the peak, they slid down the glacier on the mount’s east side, continue to Stewart Ranch (now the location of Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort), and camp at a small resort called Wildwood in Provo Canyon.

Accompanying the account are photographs taken by Brimhall and his companion LeGrand Hardy, a map showing their approximate route, courtesy of John Judd, and a few more contemporary photographs of the summit of Timp in winter.

MtTimpanogos_ClickMapimage

 

A Winter Acquaintance with Timpanogos

By Dean R. Brimhall

Originally published in Utah Historical Quarterly 49 (Fall 1981): 340–47.

Dean Robertson Brimhall (1886-1972) was the son of Flora Robertson and George H. Brimhall, president of Brigham Young University during 1903-21. He received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from BYU in 1913 and master’s and doctoral degrees from Columbia University. At the time of his adventure on Timpanogos, February 1916, he appears to have been teaching psychology at BYU.

In August 1917 Brimhall married actress Lila Eccles (1891–1980) who was later a professor of speech and theatre at the University of Utah.

During his early career he was involved in several business enterprises, but after 1933 he was employed by the federal government in various posts. After his retirement in 1951, Brimhall developed a keen interest in pictographs and petroglyphs, becoming an expert on Utah Indian rock art. He served as a member of the Board of State History from 1965 until his death. In 1971 he was made an Honorary Life Member of the Society in recognition of his contributions to the study and preservation of Utah antiquities.

This account of Timpanogos in winter is from Brimhall’s papers house in the Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, which granted the Society permission to publish it. A few typographical errors have been corrected.

BRIMHALL’S ACCOUNT

It is hard to be conservative when one is by nature a radical, but conservatism has little chance with a man who has a passionate interest. Hardy[1] and I make no claims for conservatism in matters dealing with mountains. If our doings and sayings concerning Timpanogos seem lacking in temperance we have no apology. No man can be a lover of the high places of the world and keep that calm tranquility so fitting to the vegetable kingdom.

The winter of 1915–16 will be long remembered as one of the old style. Snow was knee deep for weeks in the valleys, and the mountains were hardly ever free from storm clouds. Every time the sky cleared the great king of the Wasatch Range stood out in marvelously white majesty. He seemed to say, “Come up and conquer me if you dare.” The sharp white point some twelve thousand feet out in the cold clear ozone never looked so mockingly exciting as it did after some long snowstorm when clouds had hid it for threefold the time they had hid the valley.

One day was all we could give to the climb, and that day was Saturday. We shall not tell of our first trial and our defeat. It is a long story, a glorious one to us, but no one cares to hear how someone nearly reached the top.

So far as we know or have been able to find out, no one had ever climbed the peak in winter months, and we now have reason to believe that no one is likely to have greater natural difficulties, in the way of ice, deep snow, and low temperatures.

It was three fifteen A.M. when we filled the radiator of the car with hot water. A few turns of the engine, a fitful sputtering which settled into a steady hum and we were ready. A shot half of joy and half of mischief for the benefit of some sleepy neighbors, and in went the clutch. A short spinning of wheels, a biting of chains and we were off. Our lights sent out their friendly shine over the immaculate mantle of snow but lost their luster in the brightness of the light of a full February moon.

The ten mile ride to the Jex ranch at the mouth of Dry Canyon[2] was not without its thrills. Two feet of snow with only wagon tracks for a broken trail is not conducive to fast driving, but it does not lack in fantastic skidding and unexpected plowing into the unbroken banks at the side of the road, and that too, in the most inopportune places. Life was sweet and wholesome.

At three forty-five or thereabouts, we had our snowshoes on, our lunch, light but nourishing tied to our belts, our kodaks in places and our bamboo skis [ski poles?] in our hands. Not even the strange silent beauty of the mountain in the moonlight halted us, for past experience had taught us that “keep going” is as necessary in climbing mountains as it is in climbing towards a university degree. For the first half mile Dry Canyon was wet to the extent of three to five feet of snow in level spots and as much as twenty-five feet in drifts.[3] How we gloried in the carrying power of our snowshoes without which it would have been impossible to have gone more than a few hundred yards.

Then we came to the first part of the snowslide. We had both seen bigger ones in the Alps; we had seen marks of mightier ones elsewhere in the Rockies, but for sheer ruthless savagery due to speed, we had never seen its equal. Clearly visible from the valley, we saw how it had started near the top, nearly seven thousand feet away, gathering speed, mass and momentum until here and there great gouges into the banks of earth on either side of its path told the story of its mad flight only too plainly. How we wished for brighter light than that the moon gave, so that we might have recorded a part of the sight in the little black boxes strapped to our sides.

At six fifteen, we were looking over Little Mountain[4] and were within two thousand feet of the top. Then came the first hint of approaching day, seen in the faint eastern glow that apparently was struggling to take a place where brilliant moonlight now held supreme sway.

The apparent nearness of our goal seemed to give us permission to stop. Yes, I am glad we decided to rest here, though had we known what lay ahead we should perhaps have missed the glories of the wonderful dawn contrasted with the setting of a moon now a ball of gold sinking softly and silently into the dark purple of a western sky over the distant Oquirrhs. The world was the fulcrum of the balancing planets. The twinkling lights of cities and villages lining the shore of icebound, snow-covered, Utah Lake, showed clearly that night still reigned below and that thousands of our fellow kind were sleeping, blissfully ignorant of what was to us a vision of matchless beauty. Words died on our lips and only incoherent jumbles of subdued exclamations reached our ears as one of us saw some new color or silhouette, or found some new object grown fantastic in the unusual light and perspective.

“Two thousand feet more, and not yet sunup,” said Hardy. How easy it seemed, yet both of us knew something we did not care to admit. We were whistling to keep up courage. We knew that those two thousand feet meant some thrills that might stick to our memories when many of our friends were forgotten.

Ascending Timpanogos on February 19, 1916. Dean R. Brimhall Collection, Special Collections, Photographs, University of Utah Library.

Ascending Timpanogos on February 19, 1916. Dean R. Brimhall Collection, Special Collections, Photographs, University of Utah Library.

There were two paths: We might follow the ridge and have a dozen icy cliffs to scale as well as treacherous icy snowbanks for pathways, or we might go up one of the great furrows that line the face at the point we now had reached. These were filled with snow, how deep we could only guess. We chose the ridge, but we are not sure whether we did the best thing or not. One of the most astonishing difficulties of our route was the scaling of the great drifts which for some queer reason or other had formed on the ridges. We had expected that the snow would be blown from these places but found that to be the case only here and there; elsewhere the wind had built many big shelf-like drifts, where an unsuspecting climber might easily find himself suddenly precipitated into the depths so far below that I almost lean backwards as I express the possibility of a fall.

From this level on, we encountered the most peculiar phenomenon. The ledges were literally plastered with snow. A mighty storm from the northwest had unloaded some millions of tons of wet snow to the tune of what must have been a terrific wind. Only by working our way to the southwest side of the ledges were we able to ascend at all. One great shelf so excited our admiration that we decided to get a picture of it. I borrowed Hardy’s camera because it was larger and had a much better lens than mine, and began to climb out to a point that would give me a good view. A slip meant a long slide, then a tumble over a low ledge, then another long slide and then—I don’t know what. But all the comfort I received from the chuckling companion sitting serenely above me was, “Don’t you dare go off down that canyon with my Kodak. What would there be left of it?” A joke is usually a good nerve tonic however, so I got the picture.

My memory is altogether too full of items concerning the rest of the ascent. The story, as I have already said, is a long one, too long to be given in details to any but those whose passion is mountains.

Five hours to make two thousand feet. It does not sound so bad. We had climbed the first five thousand in three hours. Yet, the going was of the right sort for real enjoyment. Life seemed very full when we began the “sprint” of the last fifty feet for our first sight of “the other side.” I think that it must have been exulting impatience more than fatigue or rarity of atmosphere that half choked me during that last mad hurry. But whatever it was, the climb and “sprint” made me no less breathless than the sight that seemed almost to shout back at me: the great jumbles of towering peaks and furrowing canyons stretching away to the east, north and south, as far as light travelled to us in straight lines. The immaculate covering of white was little less astonishing, not even a bit of underbrush showed through the great depth of snowfall; not even a coyote track, and best of all not the slightest sign of the biped, genus homo.

One view of the top of Timpanogos. From the Dean R. Brimhall Collection, Special Collections, Photographs, University of Utah Library.

One view of the top of Timpanogos, 1916. From the Dean R. Brimhall Collection, Special Collections, Photographs, University of Utah Library.

 

We were on the ridge, we were on top, but happily not on the highest point.[5] To the north a half mile or so away was the flagpole. It was not much higher than the point we had reached, but we wanted to stand beside that pole. The only possible path from here on was perhaps the one that involved the most spectacular part of our entire journey: the way led along places where the slightest misstep to the right meant an almost perpendicular fall of from three to seven hundred feet. To the left it meant a slide and a plunge over ledges equally as dangerous. But we got our pictures. We fairly shouted for joy as we touched the steel pole that meant we had succeeded. There is no use trying to describe what we saw from that peak. Hundreds of people climbed it this summer to see in summer clothes what we saw in the heaviest winter garb. I climbed Storm King yesterday,[6] a peak overlooking the lordly Hudson. Its precipitous sides do not rise quite two thousand feet from the tidal river below, but the rich green verdure, forests, miniature lakes, villages, the distant cities of Newburg, and West Point with its Military Academy nearer by were in their most beautiful summer dress. I sat for an hour studying the landscape, yet both myself and companion declared our intentions to return some months later when we would need snowshoes. Winter scenery of mountains has a beauty that few people know.

Despite the almost constant wind over the peak, the snow completely hid any sight of the monument except that made by the flagpole itself. Though not as deep as in some places the great drift that streamed out as though it were a mighty pointed cornice was the largest of any that we had seen. Hardy thought it was strong enough to hold him, but I refused to take his picture standing on it until he had tied a rope around his waist and to the flagpole. Had the shelf broken off there was some chance of being saved when bound in this fashion, otherwise we might have dug him out some months later in the valley a thousand feet below.

I believe most people call that part of the ridge at which the glacier begins the saddle. It was here we obtained two of our best pictures. One of the eastern or back part of Timpanogos and the other of a large ice crevice. In true glacier fashion the mass of snow that had collected in the magnificent amphitheatre below, had moved several feet and left a number of deep beautiful crevices. Down into one of these went my companion, always bent on seeing the bottom of everything. Again the rope was tied to his waist for safety. He found footing at one point and turned the Kodak my way. I don’t know how many hours of exhausting climbing labor is required to climb from Emerald Lake to the saddle, but we must have made the descent in less than a minute. I might not have made the trip as I did but while standing debating whether I should slide or take the slower but evidently safer method of digging my toes into the snow and going down a step at a time, I suddenly felt my feet fly out from under me and I was on my way. Using a pointed end of his snowshoe for a break, Hardy too said goodbye to the top and with almost motorcycle speed we soon reached the place where Emerald Lake should have been.[7]

We had decided to go down the east side and through North Fork[8] to Provo Canyon rather than return the way we had come. I am glad we did. There was no underbrush in which to become lost, no rocks to avoid, there was no trail to follow, only here and there a ledge to work our way around. The “Falls” which I believe are more than forty feet high were hardly distinguishable.[9]

There were several incidents during the descent any of which would make an interesting and exciting story. There were times when our feet went out from under us so unexpectedly that only good fortune saved us from slides which I do not like to think about. Lower down in the Canyon we found the remains of a porcupine which told us that some coyote had been mighty hungry. Then there were two bunches of feathers, a few bones and some red stains in the snow, mute evidence of the way of the Wild and the law of talon and hooked beak. There were slides crossing the faint North Fork road too numerous to mention. There was the old Stewart cabin with only the roof showing.[10] It was a much longer trail than I had remembered it to be, perhaps because it happened to be the end instead of the beginning of the journey, as is often the case with those who try for the top. It was after ten in the evening, or rather in the night when we finally felt that friendly glow warm us as we saw the summer camp houses loom up thru the bare and scraggly trees along the roaring North Fork stream.[11]

LeGrand Hardy at Aspen Grove. Special Collections and Archives, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

LeGrand Hardy at Aspen Grove, February 19, 1916. Special Collections and Archives, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Let the reader imagine, if he can, if he has ever felt that intense satisfaction which comes with the sight of rest after a long period of strenuous effort and success. Let him imagine what sitting down by a roaring stove, eating, dreaming, talking, bragging, recounting the incidents of the trip, with the fervor that must have been experienced to be felt. Let him imagine the anticipation which the sight of food brought to our appetites that had been sharpened to an edge which only the out-of-doors will bring. Then he may understand in part, what we felt as we sat and gossiped, and told each other that our friends who knew this life that we were living would be proud and glad of our doings. Barrie never created a Peter Pan who felt more heroic than we two “boys” felt that night.

No troubled dreams disturbed our sleep. What did we care about the fact that a ten mile hike awaited us in the morning? Ten miles back to the car we had left those many hours before. We wondered what the farmers about the place would be saying of our doings or rather what they would think of the fools who could find pleasure in what to them must have seemed ridiculous. But the ten miles disappeared so easily that we did not realize that we were there until we found ourselves filling the radiator with water from the stove of a nearby farmhouse.

Not even a frosted ear to show as a result of a most intimate acquaintance with the hoary old king of the Wasatches. Hardy says he hopes he is the first to fly over with an aeroplane but he will have to hurry if he beats me.[12]

 

[1] Brimhall’s friend LeGrand Hardy, a BYU student and later a physician.

[2] Dry Canyon lies north of Provo Canyon, east of Orem.

[3] The Dry Canyon trail up the west face of Timpanogos rates 3 on a 1-5 scale for steepness. Beginning at an elevation of 5,200 feet the trail reaches 8,400 feet in three miles. See Shirley Paxman et al., Utah Valley Trails: A Hiking Guide to the Many Scenic Trails around Provo, Utah (Salt Lake City: Wasatch Publishers, 1978), p. 11.

[4] Probably Little Baldy, a peak at 7,696 feet.

[5] The highest point on Timpanogos is 11,750 feet.

[6] During 1917-18 Brimhall was an instructor at Columbia. Possibly he climbed Storm King above the Hudson River and wrote this account at that time. However, later dates to 1925 are also possible.

[7] They seem to have slid some 1,300 feet down the glacier above Emerald Lake on the east side of Timpanogos.

[8] The North Fork of the Provo River.

[9] Possibly Stewart Falls above present Sundance.

[10] The cabin of John R. Stewart was located at present Sundance.

[11] Probably Wildwood, a summer camp area established in 1906, where the North Fork of the Provo joins the main river down Provo Canyon.

[12] Brimhall’s interest in aviation dated from at least 1908 when as an LDS missionary he watched Orville Wright’s first power-plane flight in Germany. During 1926-35 Brimhall was president of Utah Pacific Airways. He capped his federal career by serving as director of research for the Civil Aeronautics Administration.

 

Photo Gallery

All images from the Dean R. Brimhall Collection, Special Collections, Photographs, University of Utah Library, February, 1916.

Measuring the snow depth at Aspen Grove after descending the east side of Timpanogos. Dean R. Brimhall Collection, Special Collections, Photographs, University of Utah Library.

Measuring the snow depth at Aspen Grove after descending the east side of Timpanogos, February 19, 1916.

 

Photo from the Dean R. Brimhall Collection, Special Collections, Photographs, University of Utah Library, ca. 1920.

Photo from the Dean R. Brimhall Collection, Special Collections, Photographs, University of Utah Library, ca. 1920.

 

View from Mount Timpanogos. Photo from the Dean R. Brimhall Collection, Special Collections, Photographs, University of Utah Library, February, 1916.

View from Mount Timpanogos. Photo from the Dean R. Brimhall Collection, Special Collections, Photographs, University of Utah Library, February, 1916.

 

Ridge of Mount Timpanogos. View from Mount Timpanogos. Photo from the Dean R. Brimhall Collection, Special Collections, Photographs, University of Utah Library, February, 1916.

Ridge of Mount Timpanogos. View from Mount Timpanogos. Photo from the Dean R. Brimhall Collection, Special Collections, Photographs, University of Utah Library, February, 1916.

 

P0114n01_20_252

View of the “Slides” from Mount Timpanogos, February, 1916.

 

 

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View from summit on Mount Timpanogos, 1916.

 

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View from Mount Timpanogos, 1916.

 

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Looking along ridge of Mount Timpanogos, 1916.

Contemporary Photo Gallery

The following images represent Mount Timpanogos in the years following the 1916 expedition.

Photo taken between 1939-1943. Southern view of Mt. Timpanogos. Photo by & Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service. Utah Writers' Project. Steep, snow-covered peaks.

Photo taken between 1939-1943. Southern view of Mt. Timpanogos. Photo by & Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service. Utah Writers’ Project. Steep, snow-covered peaks.

 

Photo of Mount Timpanogos taken between 1947-1966 from Thomas Larson and his son O. Blaine Larson, who operated the Larson Studio in Provo, Utah County, Utah.

Photo of Mount Timpanogos taken between 1947-1966 from Thomas Larson and his son O. Blaine Larson, who operated the Larson Studio in Provo, Utah.

 

Map of route taken by Brimhall and Hardy on Mt. Timpanogos. Photo and notations on route by John Judd.

Map of route taken by Brimhall and Hardy on Mt. Timpanogos. Photo and notations on route by John Judd.

 

Summit facing east/southeast. Contemporary photo by John Judd.

Summit facing east/southeast. Contemporary photo by John Judd.

 

Near summit facing north. Contemporary photo by John Judd.

Near summit facing north. Contemporary photo by John Judd.

 

Near Everest Ridge showing ridge line. Contemporary photo by John Judd.

Near Everest Ridge showing ridge line. Contemporary photo by John Judd.

 

Everest Ridge - True Summit View. Contemporary photo by John Judd.

Everest Ridge – True Summit View. Contemporary photo by John Judd.

 

 

 

Encore

Our Encore series features reprints of classic works published by the Utah State Historical Society. These essays originally appearing in the Utah Historical Quarterly and other publications give a new generation of readers access to engaging historical accounts and histories of the state.

To support research and writing in Utah history and to receive your own copy of the Utah Historical Quarterly, the state’s premier history journal, please consider becoming a member of the Society.

To comment on our Encore series, please contact UHQ co-managing editor Jedediah Rogers at jedediahrogers@utah.gov or 801.245.7209.


 

elections

 

 

 

Every election is one-of-a-kind, and this year is no exception. But Utah’s seen its share of gripping, controversial elections, both local and national. This best-of-Utah Historical Quarterly series introduces readers to a few of them.

Our first offering is a classic by the political scientists Frank Jonas and Garth Jones: an overview of presidential elections in Utah from 1896 to 1952. One exception was Utahns’ support of William Howard Taft in 1912. Read essays on the unseating of B. H. Roberts to the House in 1898, the defeat of Senator Reed Smoot in 1932, the popular support of Utah for President Franklin Roosevelt in 1936, and the unsuccessful Senate bid of Ernest Wilkinson in 1964. On the local level, check out an article on the 1912 election of an all-women town council in Kanab—the nation’s first.

Read about Theodore Roosevelt’s 1903 visit to the Beehive State. Nearly every president or president-elect has stepped foot in Utah since then.


Brimhall_Title

 

 

 

First published in the fall 1981 issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly, an early account of a winter Brimhall Timpanogosascent of Mt. Timpanogos. Two local men reveled in the challenge and danger of scaling the mount’s face in the snow. After reaching the peak, they slide down the glacier on the mount’s east side, continue to Stewart Ranch (now the location of Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort), and camp at a small resort called Wildwood in Provo Canyon. Accompanying the account are photographs taken by Brimhall and his companion LeGrand Hardy, a 3-D interactive map showing their approximate route, and contemporary photographs of the summit of Timp in winter, courtesy of John Judd.


Mikkelsen_Title

 

 

 

Echo City Pulpit Rock Union Pacific Railroad 1In an award-winning essay, Robert S. Mikkelsen paints a colorful portrait of life in his hometown, a key refueling railroad stop for locomotives traveling between Ogden, Utah, and Evanston, Wyoming. He revisits childhood memories of playing outdoor games on soot-packed platforms, getting in trouble with track torpedoes instead of fireworks, building forts out of railroad ties, and passing the time “celebrity watching” at the station. Overall, his account provides an interesting insider look at how the Union Pacific steam engine station defined Echo’s cultural, social, and economic experience for nearly a century.


Gibbs_Title

 

 

 

This account by Josiah F. Gibbs is characteristic of the first-person accounts frequently published From left to right: Charles Kelly, Josiah F. Gibbs, Frank Beckwith - at Marysvale, Utah. Josiah F. Gibbs authored a book on the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Frank Beckwith was the editor of the Millard County Chronicle, an archeologist, geologist, and authority on Lake Bonneville. Charles Kelly was a printer, artist, author, historian, the first superintendent of Capitol Reef National Park. in some of the first issues of the Utah Historical Quarterly describing events in Utah’s frontier history. Gibbs’ remembrances are one man’s recollections of a complex and sometimes strained relationship between Mormon white settlers and the Indian peoples who had long inhabited the Great Basin. Note that some language in this piece–for example, “savage,” “redmen”–are dated and offensive, and simply reflect Gibbs sensibilities at the time of his writing.