Lucin Cutoff Tragedy: Greek Contribution and Sacrifice in the Mountain West

by JONO MARTINEZ

Greek immigrants were among the last Europeans to make their way into the United States during the late 1800s. Toward the turn of the twentieth century, thousands of young Greeks fled to Utah to live what they would consider their first years of exile. Facing continued Turkish control in their own country, many of these people, young men and boys mostly, sought to live a life elsewhere with hopes of returning to a more promising Greece. (Papanikolas, 45)

Finding solace in the American West, Greek immigrants quickly took to labor on railroads and mines as a means to survive. These men endured long, isolated seasons of strenuous labor with payment as low as $20 for a single month. Although California and Nevada would provide bountiful labor for immigrants, the railroads of Utah would be of special interest to them and would also tragically cost some of their lives. Among the places where extensive Greek contributions took place are the Carbon County mines, Murray-Midvale smelters, Bingham Canyon mines, Magna mill, Garfield smelter, and north of Ogden for railroad-gang work on the Oregon Short Line (later Union Pacific). (Papanikolas, 46-48)

On February 19, 1904, 24 men—16 of whom were Greek immigrant railroad workers—died in a train collision near the Lucin Cutoff crossing the Great Salt Lake. The Lucin Cutoff is a 102-mile railroad line in Utah that runs from Ogden to its namesake in Lucin. (“With Dead”) News reports at the time provided varying numbers of victims and gave inconsistent details regarding the details of the crash. By most accounts, the air brake system failed on the eastbound train, which contained a boxcar of black powder, and the locomotive collided with a dynamite-laden westbound train attempting to clear the mainline. (“Air Brakes”) The magnitude of the explosion was such that the adjacent small town of Jackson was destroyed and 1,000 feet of track were blown up, leaving an excavation 30 feet deep. One engine was blown over in the flat and almost buried in the salt earth; one of the drive wheels was found nearly a half-mile away. (“Dynamite Wrecks”)

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An unidentified group watches a woman shaking hands with a railroad worker. Greek Archives photograph collection, 1900-1967, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

The disaster would quickly gain the attention of local newspapers, with Ogden’s own Standard dedicating at least one piece a day of coverage for the weeks following the event. Accounts in the paper were graphic, with descriptions of decapitated bodies and scattered limbs. (“Dynamite Explosion”) Even the hailed New York Times would mention the half-mile radius of damage in its February 20 issue. The article listed by name the three American victims, but the immigrant workers were lumped into a single group with little to no recognition. While the tragedy was indeed covered in the news, the loss of the eight Utahns would ultimately overshadow the loss of Greek immigrant life. As The Salt Lake Tribune would make sure to mention on February 20, 1904, “A majority of those killed were Greek laborers, although many of the victims were English-speaking people.” The emphasis on “American” life over immigrant casualties in news accounts of the 1904 wreck ultimately reflected views that foreign laborers were expendable. (“Memorial Honors”)

Misfortune for the victims’ families only grew in the days following the accident. The designated coroner charged various undertakers, including Larkin & Sons, with handling the 24 bodies. Larkin opted to remove the bodies under his care to his own establishment in order to better prepare them for burial. This raised a protest from the assembled multitude of Greeks, many of whom had cousins and other relatives under the coverings inside the improvised morgue. They declared the bodies should not be moved. Richey, the other undertaker, later burned the blankets in which their bodies had been wrapped for transportation to the city. The Greek community had their own blankets that they wished to use instead, which were traditionally used for bedding. These were often hand-woven of superior material by them in Greece and brought to America with them. (“Dead are Brought”)

It was clear that there would be a long process in both identifying and treating the bodies, yet unique issues arose with regard to the extant language barrier between immigrants and local authorities who hoped to discover the cause of the accident. Two Americanized Greeks, John McCart and Arthur Mitchell, were sworn in as interpreters. Even so, they were unable to communicate much information to the authorities due to the conditions survivors were in. According to a story published in The Salt Lake Tribune on February, 26, 1904, “very little information concerning the accident could be elicited from the wounded Greeks.”

Other obstacles in the investigation came in the form of English-speaking witnesses who refused to give their full testimony. For example, Sam Courtney, the conductor of the water train, was questioned to no avail. Courtney’s hips and back were badly injured in the accident; yet, when he was asked who, in his opinion, was responsible for the makeup of the train and for the accident, he refused to make any statement. Ultimately, no blame would be placed on a single party and all persons interviewed would be absolved. (“Verdict of Jury”)

George N. Tsolomite, vice-consular agent for the Kingdom of Greece, arrived two weeks after the accident in Ogden. He then decided to contest each of the probate proceedings, which had just begun in Weber and Box Elder counties for the appointment of administrators in the estates of the Greeks who were killed in the recent railroad disaster at Jackson. (“Verdict of the Jury”) For many people at the time and now, it was evident that immigrants were misused as employees, especially those who could not speak English. Tsolomite’s involvement was to lessen aggravations felt by the families. Yet it was disasters like the one at Jackson and countless others that eventually energized immigrants to force employers to improve working conditions through labor unions. (“Memorial Honors”)

On October 22, 2000, nearly a century after the Lucin Cutoff tragedy, members of Utah’s ever-growing Greek community gathered in Ogden to witness the installation of a granite monument in memory of the deceased workers. (“Memorial Honors”) The tragedy and suggestion for the memorial were brought to the attention of the Utah Hellenic Cultural Association by Stella Kapetan of Chicago, who discovered the episode while researching her family history. (“Memorial”) This commemoration was seen by many as long overdue, considering that the majority of the men were buried without a headstone. For many, those Greek railroad workers who lost their lives are an example of the undervalued efforts and sacrifices undergone by immigrants in the United States of America. The memorial now serves as a reminder to both Greeks and non-Greeks of an otherwise downplayed moment in Utah history. Furthermore, their contribution as immigrants to help build the American West now receives the credit it has deserved.

Jono Martinez graduated in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism.

Sources

“Action of Greek Counsul,” Standard, March 1, 1904.

“Verdict of the Jury Judge Pritchard in Cut-off Disaster,” Standard, March 1, 1904.

“Coroner’s Inquest Continued to Thursday,” Standard, February 26, 1904.

“Inquest in Jackson Explosion,” The Salt Lake Tribune, February 26, 1904.

“Verdict of Jury in Cut-off Disaster,” Standard, February 26, 1904.

“Air Brakes Failed,” The Salt Lake Tribune, February 24, 1904.

“Dynamite Explosion Brings Havoc and Death,” Standard, February 23, 1904.

“Dead are Brought to Ogden Sunday,” Standard, February 22, 1904.

“With Dead of the Jackson Explosion,” The Salt Lake Tribune, February 22, 1904.

“Dynamite Wrecks Town,” The New York Times, February 20, 1904

“Memorial Honors Forgotten Victims of 1904 Railroad Tragedy,” The Salt Lake Tribune, October 23, 2000.

“Memorial,” Deseret News, May 29, 2000.

Papanikolas, Helen Zeeze. Toil and Rage in a New Land: The Greek Immigrants in Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah State Historical Society, 1970.

 

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Utah Prohibition: Battle Between State and Religion

Article and images by KRISSI KARREN

More than one hundred years ago, anti-alcohol movements spread across the United States. On January 16, 1920, the prohibition of alcohol was enforced by the 18th amendment to the United States Constitution, which made the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquors officially illegal throughout America. (Fisher, Prohibition)

Salt Lake City, Utah, is the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormons follow “The Word of Wisdom,” a health law that stipulates that certain substances, including alcoholic drinks, are harmful.

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The still at Sugar House Distillery, where small batches of vodka, rum, malt whisky and bourbon whiskey are produced.

In the 1840s, Mormon pioneers settled in Utah, thus creating a long lineage of conservative culture. Mormon leaders have not only guided their religion, but also Utah politics. This article focuses on Utah’s stance on alcohol production and consumption between the time of Prohibition to 2017. By studying the political conditions in Utah we can gain insight about the effect of church over state and what led to ratification of the 21st amendment, and how Utah currently regulates alcohol consumption.

According to Bruce Dyer in his thesis, “A Study of the Forces Leading to the Adoption of Prohibition in Utah in 1917,” Senator Reed Smoot was an influential man in both the LDS religion and in politics. During the early 1900s, Senator Smoot controlled Intermountain Republican, a newspaper published in Salt Lake City. During the spring of 1908, the Intermountain Republican devoted considerable space on the front page to open political discussion. According to Dyer, each morning in large black letters the newspaper asked, “Shall Utah have Prohibition?” Within the box were the opinions of those who either favored statewide prohibition or were against it. Intermountain Republican and other journals were stressing the prohibition issue.

Also according to Dyer’s thesis, The Salt Lake Tribune carried the majority of the anti-prohibition articles appearing in local press. In 1908, an unidentified Tribune writer reported that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owned Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institute, which was one of the most extensive liquor dealers in the state. (Dyer, 11) In addition, The Salt Lake Tribune addressed the fact that one of the religion’s greatest leaders, Brigham Young, was empowered to grant licenses to persons to manufacture liquor, which brings up the issue of business over beliefs. (Dyer, 12) According to a speech made by Richard Lyman on October 3, 1930, the most important pressure against Prohibition came from businessmen whose interests included liquor manufacture or sales.  

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Sugar House Distillery uses American oak whisky barrels that have been charred. This and the wood add flavor to the liquor.

Anti-alcohol movements were created to show that alcoholic drink in any form was dangerous and destructive. Alcohol was blamed for social problems such as unemployment, poverty, business failure, slums, insanity, crime and violence. Prohibitionists were utopian moralists because they believed that eliminating the legal manufacture and sale of alcoholic drink would solve the major social and economic problems of the American society. (Fisher, Economic) From the late 1800s to the early 1900s, Utah politicians came face to face with moral implications while deciding what was best for Utah and ultimately the American people, but first relied on the Mormon community for support.

According to a story published in the Deseret News on June 11, 1910, “although increasing scientific evidence on the adverse effects of alcohol helped the movement, moral rather than scientific considerations seem to have sustained it.”

Heber J. Grant, seventh president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, made an address in 1916 at an officers meeting of the Mutual Improvement Association. He said, “I believe that Utah should have been the first state in the Union to have adopted state prohibition, because the Lord has given to us a prohibition law….”

According to author Del Vance in his book, Beer in the Beehive, A History of Brewing in Utah, in 1929 Albert Becker was elected to the Utah House of Representatives. He was the first and last local brewery owner to hold a high position in Utah’s state government and lobbied hard for repeal of Prohibition. (194) It was becoming apparent to the government that prohibition did little to stop alcohol in Utah. Federal agents seized more than 400 distilleries, 25,000 gallons of spirits, 8,000 gallons of malt liquors, and 13,000 gallons of wine. (216) Chaos rose with underground sales and consumption of alcohol. Rather than decreasing crime rates, there was an increase, which put into perspective the viability of alcohol prohibition.

From 1920 to 1933 there was homebrewing, bootlegging, a declining economy and political propaganda on the restriction of alcohol, until the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed. On December 5, 1933, the state of Utah became the thirty-sixth state to ratify the amendment, which made the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquors legal. However, with the events of history in mind, alcohol consumption would not go back to how it was before the prohibition.

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, known as the DABC, was created in 1935, two years after the ratification of the 21st Amendment, which gave individual states the right to choose their own system of controlling and distributing alcoholic beverages. The Utah legislature believes that the state should control sales to promote responsible drinking and holds the intent to reasonably satisfy the public demand and protect the public interest, including the rights of citizens who do not wish to be involved with alcoholic beverages. The legislature also required that the department be operated as a public business using reasonable management principles and practices.

I experienced the effect of Utah’s government on alcohol regulation firsthand while touring Sugar House Distillery with owner James Fowler. Sugar House Distillery is located on 2212 S. West Temple in the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City. This distillery received federal approval for spirits distilling in September 2013, and Utah approval in January 2014. It now produces vodka, rum, malt whisky, and bourbon whiskey. James Fowler first showed me the “Zion Curtain” that he has to pull down over the alcohol he has for sale in the front room as well as the curtain that is over the window on the door that separates the front room from the distillery. This is a legislative provision required of restaurants and other establishments to keep children from seeing alcohol. Fowler said he is required to keep detailed records about his distillery that are examined by the DABC’s compliance department. In addition, he said 68 percent of his sales go toward taxes, thus making an income difficult in this industry. Despite challenges posed by legislation in Utah, he chose to launch his business here rather than Texas or Nevada. Ultimately, he said, “Utah has outstanding resources for fresh local ingredients and there is something special about the extra persistence required to locally produce alcohol in Utah.”  

To conclude, we can see that Mormon beliefs impacted the prohibition of alcohol in the 1900s. But because of crime rates, a declining economy and the fight of the opposition, the 18th Amendment eventually became unsuccessful.

The Utah State Legislation continually changes alcohol regulations. For example, in March 2017, Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill giving Utah the strictest drunken driving law in the nation. (Scribner) Herbert also signed into law HB 442, a 144-page document that made “numerous changes to how restaurants, dining clubs and off-premise beer retailers will operate.” (Lake) As the Tribune editorialized on April 26, 2017: “[E]very year the Legislature takes a step forward — like loosening the ridiculous Zion Curtain requirements … — it takes two steps back.”

Krissi Karren is a junior at The University of Utah and is majoring in mass communication. She is pursuing a career in the field of visual communication and is interested in writing about psychology and health of the human body, while residing in San Diego, California. Karren also wants to learn more about power Vinyasa yoga.

SOURCES

Irving Fisher, Economic Benefits of Prohibition (Westerville, Ohio: American Issue Press, 1926).

Irving Fisher, Prohibition at its Worst (New York: Alcohol Information Committee, 1927).

Heber J. Grant, “Prohibition,” address delivered June 9, 1916, to the Mutual Improvement Association. Reprinted in The Young Woman’s Journal xxvii (1916): 402-405. http://bit.ly/2phc8AN

Lyman, Richard R. “Prohibition, Not State Control.” Address in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, October 3, 1930. 

Merrill, Joseph F. “Alcohol, Citizenship and the Church.” KSL Radio Station, September 13, 1931. Speech.

“Prohibition: history of the movement in Salt Lake City,” Deseret News, June 11, 1910.

Scribner, Herb. “2017 changes to liquor laws join other significant state actions,” Deseret News, March 11, 2017.  

Dyer, Bruce T. “A Study of the Forces Leading to the Adoption of Prohibition in Utah in 1917.” Master’s Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1958.

Karren, Krissi. interview with James Fowler, April 3, 2017. 

Lake, Catherine Parrish. “2017 Changes to Utah Liquor Laws.” Stoel Rives LLP Alcohol Beverage Blog. http://bit.ly/2qgJYal

“Utah liquor laws fly past peculiar and into weird.” The Salt Lake Tribune, April 26, 2017. http://bit.ly/2pvZNsY

Vance, Dell. Beer in the Beehive: A History of Brewing in Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah: Dream Garden Press, 2006.

The Origins of Snowboarding in Utah

by STEPHEN KONKLER

Snowboarding began in 1965 with the invention of the “Snurfer.” Sherman Poppen, an engineer and father in Michigan, invented the first prototype of a snowboard as a toy for his daughter by attaching two skis together side by side and putting a rope at the very front of the board for control. (TransWorld, Part 1) Not long after, snowboarding took off nationwide, and it wasn’t long before fanatics made it out to Utah for the lightest snow on earth.

Although it’s not mentioned much in Utah’s history books, Utah has been a home to snowboarding, and a dominant destination for the sport since the early 1970s. Alta Ski Area, one of the oldest ski areas in the US, started out as a small mining camp in Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon in the 1920s and 1930s. Alta opened its doors to skiers in 1936, and years later in the 1970s became the first ski area in Utah to allow snowboarders to ride the slopes, with Snowbird Ski Resort close behind. (Scheuerman, “Snowboarding”)

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Dimitrije Milovich rides his Winterstick snowboard. Photo by Alan K. Engen. Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

With a newfound sport on the rise and an open market demanding snowboards, a young man by the name of Dimitrije Milovich found his way to Utah and set out to invent the first snowboard without a rope for the rider to hang onto. (TransWorld, Part 1) With the help of famous surfboard shaper Wayne Stoveken, Milovich invented the first snowboard that used plastic for the base and metal on the edges of the board to help grip the snow. (Winterstick Advertisement) Milovich started out testing his prototypes at Snowbird and at Alta Ski Area. (Although Alta was willing to let Milovich test his newly designed equipment there, the area subsequently closed to snowboarders in 1984. It has yet to reopen to anyone but skiers, despite being on public land.) By 1971, Milovich had a couple of patents for his state of the art “snow surfboards” and had opened a shop to sell his aptly named “Winterstick Swallowtails” in none other than Salt Lake City, Utah. (TransWorld, Part 1)

Although the sport of snowboarding continued to grow, not only in Utah but also across the country, some skiers weren’t very happy to share the slopes with this newfound sport and the culture that followed. After a skier crashed at Stratton Mountain, a resort in Vermont, and sued the ski area, management was forced to create ski-at-your-own-risk laws and ban all non-traditional skiing sports. Snowboarding as well as telemark skiing were both considered too dangerous, and resorts started banning both all across the country. With few snowboarders willing to hike mountains to be able to ride, Milovich had to close the doors of his Winterstick stores in Utah in 1982.

But Milovich wasn’t done with owning a business. He and a man named Dwain Bush opened a windsurfing shop named Milosport. Later, it became a snowboard shop when the sport started to get back into the mainstream in the late 1980s. (Scheuerman, “Snowboarding”) Milosport is now the most popular snowboard shop in Utah, and has led the pack for snowboarding’s revolution in Utah since 1988.

After years of battling resorts for the return of snowboarding, in 1986 Beaver Mountain in Logan, Utah, was the first resort in Utah to open back up to snowboarders. (Halcomb, Part 1) After the sport of snowboarding stayed in the backcountry and off of the resort slopes for years, places like Brighton Resort, Powder Mountain, Sundance Resort, Snowbird, and many others started to see the return of snowboarding on their slopes. Although resorts all over Utah were welcoming back snowboarders, it wasn’t without stipulations. A rider certification card was required to use a snowboard at most resorts, to indicate that the rider could turn and stop without harming any skiers. (Scheuerman, “Re-search”)

Leading the pack in the fight to bring snowboarding back to resorts across the nation was a man named Dennis Nazari. Nazari was born in California and moved to Utah with his parents as a kid. Although Nazari spent most of his childhood in California, he was quick to pick up skiing and eventually snowboarding in Utah. After searching many ski shops in town, Nazari was able to locate and buy a snowboard at a local ski shop in Salt Lake City, which he rode primarily at Alta Ski Area, until they banned snowboards on Christmas Day of 1984. (Sheehan)

After Alta banned snowboarding, Nazari started the Southwest Surf Skiers Association, a program designed to get snowboards back on the slopes of resorts in Utah. (Halcomb, Part 1)

The SSSA was a program dedicated to educating people about the safety measures of snowboarding, and certifying that snowboarders could safely ride down the hill of a resort without injuring anyone else on hill. Nazari would drive up to Logan on the weekends to educate and certify riders. The rider would get an A, AA, or AAA, depending on how good they were at maneuvering their snowboard, with AAA being the best. (Halcomb, Dennis Nazari) After developing the idea of the rider certification card, Nazari brought snowboarding back to resorts all over Utah. (Sheehan)

Although snowboarding was becoming popular again in 1986, Milovich’s doors were still closed, which meant no one had anywhere to buy a snowboard. So in 1987, Dennis Nazari opened up a shop called Salty Peaks to cater strictly to snowboarding and the people interested in the sport. Not only did the shop sell the only snowboard gear available in Salt Lake City, but Nazari also started an official shop snowboarding team, dubbed the “Salty 8,” Utah’s first snowboarders to be sponsored for riding. All this was helping to make Salt Lake City and the rest of Utah a major hub for the culture and the sport itself. (Scheuerman, “Re-search”)

Utah is home to a very large ski and snowboarding community, so much that the license plates even claim the state has the “Greatest snow on earth.” Snowboarding’s culture and industry will continue to grow around the world as well as in Utah, while creating jobs at resorts, shops, local businesses, and elsewhere in Salt Lake City. With an industry booming and more people moving to Utah for the snow all the time, snowboarding will always have a home in Salt Lake City.

Stephen Konkler is a senior at The University of Utah, majoring in communication and minoring in design.

Sources

Erin Halcomb, “Dennis Nazari, an interview by Erin Halcomb,” March 28, 2012, Everette L Cooley Collection, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Erin Halcomb, “Josh Scheuerman, an interview by Erin Halcomb, part 1,” November 8, 2011, Everette L Cooley Collection, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Erin Halcomb, “Josh Scheuerman, an interview by Erin Halcomb, part 2,” December 6, 2011, Everette L Cooley Collection, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Paul J. MacArthur, “Snowboarding, It’s Older Than You Think,” International Skiing Association, December 1, 2016, http://bit.ly/2oVZwMI.

Josh Scheuerman, “Snowboarding in Utah: An Adolescent Sport Grows Up,” Sports Guide, Winter 2009, 10-14. http://bit.ly/2pspLva

Josh Scheuerman, “Re-search and Destroy: A Brief History of Snowboarding’s Roots in Utah,” SLUG Magazine, March 2001, 6-7. http://www.slugmag.com/pdf/147-March-2001.pdf

Sheehan, Gavin. “Salty Peaks.” City Weekly, August 242009. http://bit.ly/2nM5v75

“Snowboard History Timeline, Part 1.” TransWorld Snowboarding, http://bit.ly/2mqe7T7

“Snowboard History Timeline, Part 2.” TransWorld Snowboardinghttp://bit.ly/2mHJeW0

Advertisement for Winterstick, Newsweek, March 1975.

A Look at the Mormon Church Influence in Building the Union Pacific Railroad

by SAMIRA GUIRGUIS

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Mormon surveyors worked in Utah’s Uintah Mountains during the construction of the transcontinental railroad. Courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society.

A civil war and the prospect of a quick fortune from the California Gold Rush left big companies like the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads starving for a labor force. While it is common knowledge that Utah played a role in building the Transcontinental Railroad, an important factor often overlooked is that a big section of it was mostly done by Mormon workers. Power, influence, culture, geography and even a little luck all played a role in why the Mormons were perfect candidates for this job. (KUED)

In 1868, Union Pacific, desperate for workers and approaching Utah Territory, needed to recruit a lot of workers, including surveyors who knew the lay of the land against the intimidating Wasatch Mountain Range. Who better for this job than Mormon leader Brigham Young, who not only had access to a large number of workers, but also men with the discipline and sobriety of their faith? In fact, Mormons were so influential in the building of the railroad tracks that songs were even written about them.

In the Canyon of Echo, there’s a railroad begun,

And the Mormons are cutting and grading like fun;

They say they’ll stick to it until it’s complete,

For friends and relations they’re longing to meet.

Hurray! Hurrah! The railroad’s begun!

Three cheers for our contractor, his name’s Brigham Young!

Hurray! Hurrah! We’re light-hearted and gay,

Just the right kind of boys to build a railway. … (“Echo Canyon”)

The clean, sober, and polite Mormons stood out in stark contrast to the hard drinking, “wild west-type” of most other railroad company crews. Instead of whisky-induced boisterousness, gambling and “soiled doves,” the Mormon campsites operated under orderly and religious governance. (Miller, 102). Deseret News assistant editor Edward Lennox Sloan noted, “In but one camp of less than one hundred men, out of between two and three thousand working in the canyons, did I hear profanity.” The only evidence of any problem between other crews and Mormon crews was good natured “horse play” such as those cited in The Golden Spike, like hiding each other’s equipment, turning horses loose in the middle of the night and, in one example, dropping a rattlesnake into a nearby camp’s soup kettle. (Miller, 199)

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Union Pacific Railroad workers construct tunnel no. 2 at the head of Echo Canyon, Utah. Courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society.

Mormons proved to be excellent surveyors. They knew the lay of the land better than any outsider possibly could and grew up in a culture that highly valued the creation of records with meticulous detail. One only need look at the LDS genealogy to understand that. Consequently, Mormon surveyors drew detailed maps to help engineers determine the path of least resistance. (KUED) On one account, “Mormon workers became experts in the use of nitroglycerin ‘blasting oils’ and other explosives… Their sobriety would prove to be an advantage, indeed.” (Stewart, 93)

The Mormon Church used notices in the advertising section of the Deseret News to elicit help. For example, “MESSRS. Joseph A. Young, Brigham Young, Junr., and John W. Young, agents for President Brigham Young, left this city on the 8th inst., for the head of Echo Canon, to let contracts for grading on the Union Pacific Railroad…. Parties wishing contracts on that road can now start their men.… About 10,000 men will be wanted. (“Notice”) In fact, there weren’t enough men in the area, so Brigham Young sent letters to his friend and apostle Franklin D. Richards, encouraging him to send newly converted Mormons from Europe to Utah in order to keep a steady flow of workers. (Stevens, 17)

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Mormon laborers grade the Union Pacific line at the mouth of Weber Canyon, Utah. Courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society.

There’s also a mention that “fit men—immigrating from England to Zion could ride from Omaha to the end of the line free of charge if they agreed to work for the railroad.” (Stewart, 183) This fact is important because it kept the work in Utah hands; the wealth didn’t go to other places to be invested. Interestingly enough, Mormon crews worked for both the UP and CP lines east and west of each other. This competition between the two companies allowed the Mormons to increase their wages by starting bidding wars between the two companies. (Stewart, 198)

Despite working hard and being praised for their skill, there was a huge debt scandal and many Mormon workers weren’t paid for months, sometimes not at all. (Stewart, 177) One good thing did come from this experience: working with the Union Pacific gave Utahns the knowledge of how to make their own railroads rather than relying on big companies like the Union Pacific for future building. More importantly, it armed Utah with the economic power to grow. (Miller, 122) Having the manpower and new income, Brigham Young could now choose where the next railroad line would go and thus have a direct route pass through Salt Lake City. The railroad brought change to Utah, which was unsettling, but it also brought a bigger barter system, immigrants, and information. Brigham Young knew he couldn’t stop the railroad from coming. So, he prepared for its inevitability, making sure his people didn’t miss out on the economic opportunity and at the same time showing the world that the Mormons were a hardworking, selfless people (KUED).

Sources


“Notice,” Deseret News, June 17, 1868, 4.

Emrich, Duncan, ed. “Echo Canyon” in Songs of the Mormons and Songs of the West, from the Archive of Folk Song. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1952.

Miller, David E. The Golden Spike. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, University of Utah Press, 1973.

Stevens, Thomas M. “The Union Pacific Railroad and the Mormon Church, 1868-1871: An In-depth Study of the Financial Aspects of Brigham Young’s Grading Contract and Its Ultimate Settlement.” M.A. Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1972.

Stewart, John J. The Iron Trail to the Golden Spike. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1969.

Horse Racing at the Utah State Fair and Pari-Mutuel Betting

by HALIE BERRY

The Utah State Fair has been a cornerstone of Utah history even before Utah became a state in 1896. The original development of the fair was to promote “self-sufficiency” within agricultural production. The first fair, known as the “Deseret Fair,” was held in October 1856 under the supervision of the Deseret Agricultural and Manufacturing Society.

After its opening, the fair received little financial help from the Territorial Legislature and moved to various locations. Nevertheless, it was able to persevere as an annual event and in 1902 the Legislature purchased 65 acres for the purpose of assisting the local community. (Utah State Fair History)

In this pursuit, the fair had become a favored part of the horse racing industry in Utah. Horse races were featured on a new track and a covered grandstand welcomed spectators dressed in their best attire to enjoy the event. By 1909, horse racing in Utah developed similar rules and regulations to that of other organizations around the country and continued to gain increased popularity. Despite the success of the horse racing industry, there was rising opposition against it. Track owners were considered biased in the handling of wagering and during that time bookmakers were hired by the track. Utah had no state agency to oversee and/or regulate bookmaking of the horse races. (Westergren, 7)

By 1913, the belief of “dishonesty” within horse racing clouded the industry and the Salt Lake Herald and the Deseret News wrote lengthy editorials in 1909 and 1913 about the problems horse racing caused and why it should be banned. Westergren summarizes the reasons they offered, including: “The ‘fixing’ of races by dishonest horse owners and jockeys who ‘fleeced the public’ rather than providing, good, honest sport; the loss of spectators’ money in wagering at the track, depriving honest local merchants of sales and profits; the rise in crime that generally accompanied racing meets; and the moral impact of horse race gambling on individuals and families.” By February 17, 1913, Governor William Spry signed an anti-racing law initiated by Charles R. Mabey. The legislature passed the bill after a month-long “acrimonious debate.” (Westergren, 8)

In February 19, 1925, the Salt Lake Telegram reported that Representative Charles Redd had proposed a bill to the Legislature to legalize pari-mutuel betting and horse racing under a new state horse racing commission. Redd believed that horse racing was “the sport of kings” and should be re-established in the Utah industry. The bill proposed that the governor appoint a three-member committee to control the pari-mutuel betting system under new regulations by the commission. The bill gained traction among the legislature, but in March 1925, according to the Salt Lake Telegram, Sen. Herbert S. Auerbach considered the races “to be the most vicious forms of gambling and would bring into the state the worst riffraff of its kind.” This quote came after Auerbach admitted to not being “strait-laced” and dipping his hand in betting on a few races at the track.

State_Fair

A large crowd ventures to the Utah State Fairpark to watch horse racing in 1907. Shipler Commercial Photographers Collection, Mss C 275, Utah State Historical Society. Reprinted with permission.

Despite some pushback, the House Legislature passed the proposed bill on March 7, 1925, by a vote of 41 to 4 with ten members absent and by March 11, 1925, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 12 to 5 with three absent. The law was signed by Governor George Dern and became effective on May 12, 1925. For the first time in twelve years, the horse racing industry was revived and the pari-mutuel betting system was now legal. Many who approved the bill believed horse racing was a “clean” and “respectable” sport and that the new law would encourage breeders to produce competitive offspring, bringing in a renewed source of revenue into the state. (Westergren, 8-9)

By April 1925, the fairgrounds needed improvements. Fred Dahnken and William P. Kyne, well-known men in the horse racing industry who conducted successful races in Phoenix and Reno, proposed a deal with the state fair board and were approved for a $60,000 track deal to develop horse racing over the next ten years at the Utah State Fairgrounds. According to the Salt Lake Telegram, this agreement included improvements to the existing grandstand, paddocks, jockey room, horse stalls, and fences.

Utah_State_Fair_Association___Trotters

Two racers wait outside the fairgrounds in 1908. Shipler Commercial Photographers Collection, Mss C 275, Utah State Historical Society. Reprinted with permission.

As opening day drew nearer, things were in full swing to prepare for the event. The Salt Lake Telegram reported on June 6, 1925, that a new chute would be added to the track, extending the length of the race to run up to a three-quarter-mile. Artisans put final touches on the barns, pari-mutuel booths were set up, and jockeys and exercise boys warmed up horses on the track. On June 8, the Salt Lake Telegram announced the program of the State Fair’s “Inaugural Day” and informed readers that July 2 would kick off the horse racing season with a $1,500 purse.

The Salt Lake Telegram reported on July 1:  “Several carloads of horses, in prime condition, arrived at the track today and yesterday and still more are due this evening which will swell the number of equine nobility to participate in the coming meeting to a full 400 head.” C. B. Irwin, owner of at least 21 thoroughbreds at the races, believed his top horse that he called the “route-goer,” Lizette, would be the one to beat. “He would run her from the car to the track, that’s how good he thinks Lizette is,” observed the newspaper. At last, July 2, one of the most anticipated days of the year, arrived and the Utah State Fair officially opened the races under the new Horse Racing Commission. A large number of people ventured to the track to take in and bet on some of the top thoroughbreds competing.

The new system controlled the odds of the race; no jockey, bookie or horse owner could “fix” the race ahead of time. The minimum wager was $2.00. Bettors could choose from three types of tickets to place on a horse: win, place, or show, similar to other races. According to Westergren, “This ticket system was universally used at all tracks where the pari-mutuel system was functioning. The rules placed no limit on the number of tickets a bettor could buy. He might put down money on every horse in the race if he chose. However, payoff came only if the participant held a ticket for a horse that finished in one of the first three positions.” Tickets purchased from a pari-mutuel betting machine were cashed in to verify receipt of the wager amount. Odds were based on the wagers at the track and the money collected from their bets, rather than fixed, random odds by a bookie. Therefore, bettors wagered against themselves. Once expenses were paid to the state and licensed track owner, the remainder of the pool was divided among those with winning tickets. (Westergren, 12, 10)

The Salt Lake Telegram reported on July 3, 1925, “Women dressed in their fine summer clothes added a touch of color to the scene. The pari-mutuel machines received a good play, a fact which testified by the clicking one constantly heard as wagers were made.” The day was considered an overall success, according to William P. Kyne, the general manager of the State Fair races. On July 3, 1925, the Salt Lake Telegram highlighted, “Running strongly to the front, Lizette never placed the issue to doubt and ran to victory with more than two lengths to spare,” living up to Irwin’s expectations. It was estimated that between 3,500 and 10,000 attended opening day, including Heber J. Grant, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Governor George H. Dern, Salt Lake City Mayor C. Clarence Nelsen, and several other government officials. (Westergren, 14)

Overall, the races were financially successful as they hoped; from May 12, 1925, through the end of 1926, it was reported that racing brought in an additional $129,646 in total revenue. Business and community support was at an all-time high. But by February 1927, public concern with ethical issues of horse racing and betting affected support for the sport. Just two years after the passage of Representative Redd’s bill, pari-mutuel betting would again be banned by the Utah Legislature after accusations of corruption. (Westergren, 15)

Utah_State_Fair___P_26

Horses and buggies race to an exciting finish in 1904. Shipler Commercial Photographers Collection, Utah State Historical Society. Reprinted with permission.

In March 1992, the Davis County Clipper reported that Utah horse breeders had filed a petition to get pari-mutuel betting on the ballot, which would give counties the right to decide whether or not they would approve pari-mutuel wagering at horse races in their jurisdiction. According to the article, “The funds collected in the pari-mutuel wagering will be used to support the public, promote economic growth and reduce taxes.” Even though the bill made it on the ballot, late opposition from the LDS church prevented the bill from passing.

It’s been 90 years since pari-mutuel horse race betting has been legal. However, the positive impact it had on Utah’s economy shows the progressive role it can play today. It’s reported that the Utah State Fairgrounds is in a state of distress. Brian Grimmett of KUER reported on March 27, 2014, that an audit by the Utah State Auditor found the Utah State Fair Corporation is highly subsidized compared to similar state fairs around the country: “The legislature has given the fair more than $6.8 million since 2004. Meanwhile, attendance has decreased almost every year since hitting a peak in 2008.” Many of these concerns are due to the crumbling infrastructure. Legislative auditors are concerned if a plan to update and improve fair park facilities isn’t in place, the State Fair will be destitute in a few years, reported Judy Fahys of KUER.

The horse racing/breeding industry is an established sport in Utah. Allowing pari-mutuel betting or a similar system would be an incentive for members of the community to get involved, support the races and generate a year-round source of income to update and maintain current buildings at the state fairgrounds. Pamela Wood of the Baltimore Sun reported on March 18, 2016, that a new track deal allowed off-track betting at the Maryland State Fair all year. It was projected to generate upward of $500,000 per year in revenue for the Maryland Jockey Club, horsemen, and building upkeep and maintenance. Passing a similar bill here in Utah would allow the state fair to create new sources of revenue while continuing the tradition of the fairgrounds for future generations.

Halie Berry graduated in May 2017 from The University of Utah with a Bachelor of Science degree in mass communication with an emphasis in sports broadcasting.

Sources

“Huge Throng Thrilled as Lizette Wins Feature of Opening Day,” Salt Lake Telegram, July 3, 1925.

Track and Equipment is Ready for Opening Event,” Salt Lake Telegram, July 1, 1925.

Program Announced for the First Five Days’ Racing,” Salt Lake Telegram, June 8, 1925.

“Fair Grounds Race Track to Have ‘Chute Added,’” Salt Lake Telegram, June 6, 1925.

“Fair Grounds Track Deal is Made,” Salt Lake Telegram, April 15, 1925.

Senate Overrides Dern’s Veto of McCarty Election Measure; Utah Horse Racing Bill Passes,” Salt Lake Telegram, March 12, 1925.

“Solon Revives Horse Races in House Measure,” Salt Lake Telegram, February 19, 1925.

Horse Breeders Want Pari-Mutual Vote,” Davis County Clipper, March 31, 1992.

Our History.” Utah State Fair, http://utahstatefair.com/history

Fahys, Judy. “State Fair Park’s Future Remains Uncertain.” KUER, June 19, 2014, http://kuer.org/post/state-fair-parks-future-remains-uncertain#stream/0

Grimmett, Brian. “Utah State Fair Under-Attended and Over-Subsidized.” KUER, March 27, 2014, http://bit.ly/2pm6r2R.

Luhm, Steve. History of Horse Racing in Utah.” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 2, 2006http://bit.ly/2plUp9n.

Westergren, Brian N. “Utah’s Gamble with Pari-Mutuel Betting in the Early Twentieth Century.” Utah Historical Quarterly 57, no. 1 (Winter 1989): 4-23.

Wood, Pamela. “Community, state fair reach deal on off-track betting at the fairgrounds,” Baltimore Sun, March 18, 2016, http://bsun.md/21ALmMz.

 

 

University of Utah Among the Founders of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC)

by ALEX PAGOAGA

The Western Athletic Conference (WAC) was originally formed in 1962 after three years of discussions among several university officials of what would be the founding schools: Arizona, Arizona State, Brigham Young (BYU), New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. With this new cluster of teams all located in the Mountain Time Zone, the conference was set to establish itself on the national stage. Over the years, the WAC lost schools (Arizona and Arizona State) and gained schools (Colorado State, Texas-El Paso, San Diego State, Hawaii, and Fresno). The WAC was a success for thirty-four years despite having its ups and downs in athletic performance. In the late 1990s, the WAC tried to maintain pace with other conferences’ TV deals and revenue streams throughout the country and ended up losing almost everything.

The falling out of the original WAC started in 1994 after the announcement that the Southwest Conference would be disbanded. An article published in The Salt Lake Tribune on April 20, 1994, stated that the expansion had to happen for the WAC to improve. Otherwise, it would continue in the shadows of the true national power house conferences. The newly disbanded conference provided the perfect opportunity for expansion. But nobody was ready for the size of the expansion that was about to take place. In an attempt to catch up in the television ratings race that was happening throughout the country, the WAC attempted a TV market power grab. The WAC extended invitations to three schools from the newly disbanded conference (Rice, Texas Christian, and Southern Methodist) along with two schools from the Big West (San Jose State and Nevada Las Vegas) and one school from the Missouri Valley Conference (Tulsa). These new teams brought in the Bay Area, Houston, Dallas, and Las Vegas TV markets.

Rice University basketball coach Willis Wilson stated to the Deseret News on April 23, 1994, that being in the WAC would provide a level playing field for his team for the first time because of all the sanctions that the old Southwest Conference had a tendency to accrue from the NCAA. These feelings of excitement to be included into the new WAC was a common theme among the incoming schools after being abandoned by or unhappy in their old conferences. However, the feelings did not extend to the longstanding members.

As pointed out by the Chicago Tribune, the new WAC had 16 teams compared to 12 in the next largest collegiate conference. These 16 teams covered four time zones, 4,000 miles, and nine states. This caused a strain on all of the existing members of the WAC to try to accommodate the sheer time and energy it took to travel to all of the new schools in the conference. With the increased stress of the expanded league school officials started to doubt if this was the best choice. In a May 27, 1998, article published in The Salt Lake Tribune, President Bernie Machen said, “I asked myself: ‘How do we fit into this organization? Is this the best place for the University of Utah to be for the future?’”

WAC

The Western Athletic Conference, formed in 1962, was successful for more than three decades.

With the expansion of the WAC, it was no longer possible to play everyone in a season. To fix this the conference came up with a revolutionary idea to have quadrants that would swap divisions every other year. This caused several long-standing rivalries to be split up. As described by Jeff Call in BYU Magazine, the loss of familiar teams on the schedule was a vocalized cause for unrenewed season tickets. Losing rivalries and tickets caused more tension between the older teams that were no longer playing in rivalry games every year, and the new teams that were geographically far away from the older schools. After two years of awkward quadrants, a revamp of the divisions/conference was a necessity.

According to Patrick Kinahan of The Salt Lake Tribune, athletic directors of the conference voted during the last week of April 1998 to disband the use of quadrants and split the conference into two separate divisions. Their vote passed 13-3 and was scheduled to be passed on to the presidents of each school, who would then vote among themselves the following month. However, the dissatisfaction of the older schools was simply too much. BYU athletic director Rondo Fehlberg told Joe Baird of The Salt Lake Tribune, “The problem was, nobody could come up with a way to say, ‘Here’s how it’s going to get better.’ All we could see were the costs going up and the revenues staying flat.” (“BYU, Utah”)

Spearheaded by the two Utah schools, the presidents of Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, Utah, and Wyoming met at the Denver International Airport two weeks before the scheduled vote of divisions to find a new solution. The answer? Create a new conference again. Eight schools in total decided to split from the WAC. They notified the NCAA of their intention to form what would eventually be known as the Mountain West Conference (MWC) taking effect on June 30, 1999. (Edward) The eight defecting schools were: Air Force, Brigham Young, Colorado State, Nevada Las Vegas, New Mexico, San Diego State, Utah, and Wyoming.

After the abrupt rupture of the WAC many doubted how long the conference could survive. In the aftermath, Darren Wilcox of the Daily Universe said, “The only question remaining is how long the WAC can survive with leftovers. Sure, throw them in the microwave oven, stir them up a bit and they may look appetizing. They may even smell delicious. But they are leftovers just the same.” The leftover teams did lack an athletic prowess that was taken to the new conference. Due to this defect in arguably the most important trait of an athletic conference, many, including Joe Baird of The Salt Lake Tribune, theorized that the new WAC would require expansion and possibly include Utah State on the short list. (“WAC Defection”) Despite local support, Utah State University was not included in the first expansion after the split, citing market size as the cause for dismissal.

After being in the shadows on the national stage, the WAC attempted to expand the league to an unheard-of 16-team league. The loss of rivalry games paired with more difficult logistics to accommodate the size of the league ultimately resulted in concerned and unhappy members. Taking the lead, both BYU and Utah sought to rid themselves of these concerns and decided to create a league of their own, thus removing the league that they had helped create from the state of Utah.

Today, 19 years after their split from the WAC into the MWC, both BYU and Utah find themselves yet again in different conferences. BYU left for an independent football bid and landed in the West Coast Conference for all other sports. Utah accepted an invitation to the Pacific Athletic Conference. The WAC found its way back into Utah by way of an eight-year stint with Utah State from 2005 to 2013. Currently, Utah Valley University is among its full members. The WAC has acted as a steppingstone for three universities in Utah, and while all three have gone on to bigger and better opportunities, the conference still stands as a symbol of opportunity for student athletes across the western United States.

Alex Pagoaga is a senior at The University of Utah, majoring in journalism.

Sources

John McFarland, “SMU, TCU, Rice Ecstatic to be in Expanded WAC,” Deseret News, April 23, 1994.

Dick Rosetta, “Expansion Gamble Will Make WAC Bigger,” The Salt Lake Tribune, April 20, 1994, C1.

Darren Wilcox, “WAC leftovers won’t survive alone,” The Daily Universe, May 27, 1998.

James Edward, “Utes Seceding From WAC,” The Daily Utah Chronicle, May 27, 1998, 9.

Joe Baird, “WAC Defection Might Open a Spot for Utah State,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 27, 1998, C6.

Joe Baird, “BYU, Utah Make a ‘Bold Move’ – Abandon the WAC,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 27, 1998, C1.

Patrick Kinahan, “WAC Collapses Under Its Own Weight,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 27, 1998, A1.

Stephen Nidetz, “8 Schools Defect From WAC to Form League Of Their Own,” The Chicago Tribune, May 27, 1998.

“Another Wacky Move?” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 28, 1998, A10.

Call, Jeff. “The Great Divide: BYU and Seven Others Leave WAC.” Brigham Young Magazine, Fall 1998. http://bit.ly/2qfSYZE

University of Utah Professor Helped Shape Early Internet

by ABBY M. REYES

David Cannon Evans may not be the first, second, or even third household name one thinks of when considering celebrated communication innovations. As it turns out, Evans was a key player in helping pioneer what came to be known as the Internet. His work is deeply rooted in Salt Lake City’s very own backyard: the University of Utah.

Evans was born February 24, 1924, in Salt Lake City to David W. and Beatrice C. Evans. (Jensen, 1996) His father was the leader of an advertising firm and his family was described to have had generations of involvement in the newspaper business. (Jensen, Evans, Box 104, Folder 35) Evans married Beverley “Joy” Frewin in 1947 and together they had seven children: Anne, Peter, Gayle, Katherine, David F., Douglas, and Susan. (Jensen, Markoff) Shortly after his marriage, Evans graduated from the University of Utah in 1949 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics. (Jensen, 1996) He later received his doctorate in the same field from the university in 1953. (Jensen, 1996) That year, Evans was hired as a senior physicist and engineering director for Bendix Corporation, where he would spend the next several years. (Evans, Box 1, Folder 2) In just a few years, Evans would engage in government work and academic research that would mark him as a significant contributor to Utah communication history.

As a military defense response to the 1957 Sputnik satellite launched by the Soviet Union, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed a task force of the U.S. Department of Defense named Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), sometimes referred to as DARPA by adding “Defense” at the beginning. (Harvey, 2009) DARPA conducted scientific research in the field of computing and one of its branches, the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO), had been specifically responsible for federally funding these projects. (Harvey, 2009) By 1966, a federally funded ARPA network, nicknamed ARPANET, had been conceived to focus on the skill sets of four U.S. Universities. (Harvey, Hauben) Salt Lake Tribune journalist Tom Harvey wrote an extensive article in December 2009 reporting on the history of the Internet. He described ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet, as being “a network that would turn computers into communication devices, not just data crunchers.”

Harvey described this network in retrospect but the IPTO ostensibly noticed interesting productions also taking place from within ARPANET. Of particular interest would be the development of electronic communication spaces computer scientists had created — these could be described as the equivalent to early versions of email and chat rooms. However, this early form of electronic communication had been restricted to use on just one computer. (Evans, Box 5) This is why the concept of “time-sharing” was especially relevant. Time-sharing was the idea that electronic communication, such as email, could be extended for use on more than just one computer at a time and was a point of interest for Evans’ early research. (Harvey, Evans, Box 5)

David Evans. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

David Evans had a talent for communicating his ideas to graduate students, colleagues, and industry leaders. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Evans joined the University of Utah as a faculty member in 1962, but he had taught previously at the University of California at Berkeley. (Markoff, Evans, Box 1, Folder 2) At Berkeley, Evans had engaged in early ARPA work but he needed support to effectively pursue his specific research interests. (Harvey, 2009) He was fortunate to have gained this support from Ivan Sutherland, a Harvard scholar and director of IPTO in 1964, who helped Evans gain federal funds to sustain ARPANET research. (Harvey, 2009) This was a notable feat, as it would establish a relationship and mark both men professionally as they eventually partnered to found Evans & Sutherland Computer Corporation, a private computer research business in Salt Lake City. (Harvey, 2009) Evans would go on to juggle his professional commitments as a faculty researcher and business leader throughout his career.

Evans returned to Utah to found and chair the university’s first Computer Science Department housed within the College of Electrical Engineering in 1966. (Harvey, Evans, Box 1, Folder 2) In December 1969, the department had connected to ARPANET as the fourth and final “node” of the original research network before it later expanded to other parts of the country. (Harvey, ARPANET) It was the only “node” uniquely situated outside of the state of California. The other three claimed their spots at University of California at Los Angeles, University of California at Santa Barbara, and Stanford Research Institute. (Harvey, ARPANET)

Each of the institutions housing the four “nodes” had a particular focus or distinguished branch of the ARPA research. The California schools were selected to study the following respectively: network measurement center (UCLA), network information center (SRI), and Culler-Fried interactive mathematics (UCSB). (Hauben, 2006) The University of Utah’s initial responsibility was to study computer graphics through the network, specifically a technique known as “hidden line removal” — a fitting match to Evans’ expertise and assumable passion for visuals and virtual memory. (Hauben, Markoff)

It appears that Evans was a highly organized scholar and that he established clear research goals for his work. He also had a talent for communicating his ideas with different groups of people. These specific and technical goals can be summarized and condensed into one phrase that Evans included in several of his abstracts, speeches, lectures, and manuscripts — he simply aimed for “improving communication” between machines and people. (Evans, Box 5, Folder 17) Evans presumably strived to allocate more creative control to humans when communicating with machines. He worked on displaying pictures on a computer screen, hence, potentially communicating unique messages depending on the creator and layout. In a 1966 speech to audience members of an educational symposium, Evans referred to John Von Neumann, a 1940s-era computer scholar, and pointed out that efforts for “extending the human intellect” were unsuccessful and should not necessarily be finite but rather a “working partnership” between computers and people could, and potentially should, be improved. (Evans, Box 5, Folder 17)

In addition to large audiences of professionals and academics, it can be said Evans also attracted a loyal group of students benefiting from his mentorship. The same year Utah joined the ARPA network in 1969, John E. Warnock, an engineering student, wrote a technical report on computer image research that was being conducted. In a section near the beginning of the report, before becoming heavily saturated with technical details, the young student dedicated a few sentences to warmly express gratitude for his mentors and supporters, including Dr. Evans. “The many hours [they] have spent with me in discussion have provided the intellectual stimulus required to carry on this research,” Warnock proclaimed. (Evans, Box 89, Folder 7)

Notably, a few of Evans’ graduate students went on to establish successful careers in computer science. They include: John E. Warnock, cofounder of Adobe Systems Corporations Inc. and incidentally the name for one of the two engineering buildings residing on the University of Utah campus; Edwin Catmull, cofounder of Pixar Animation Studios; Alan Ashton, cofounder of the WordPerfect Corporation; and Alan Kay, once a scientist at the Walt Disney Corporation. (Markoff, 1998)

Evans evidently impacted his students and colleagues in the world of academia but it is possible he influenced other industries outside of his field and area of expertise as well. He had captured the attention of business and communication industries outside of computer science and they wanted to speak with Evans about his work. On February 12, 1971, Evans composed a letter of advice to the operations research manager of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in which he related certain aspects of his research in computer graphics as being useful for the automated production of a newspaper such as theirs. He explained how special computer-graphics equipment might make for a more efficient production process as well as give a person more creative control in the layout of the paper, including visuals such as advertisements. (Evans, Box 104, Folder 35) This letter, found in an unremarkable grey box within the Special Collections department of the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott library, could serve as evidence of Evans’ impact on communication history outside of his field. This begs the question as to whether any other industries experienced ripple effects of his ideas and knowledge, and, if so, what were they?

Is it possible that ARPANET researchers could have imagined that their rapidly growing work would stretch beyond their labs to help shape a fluid platform for today’s vast Internet uses? What started out as a secured U.S. Defense project continues to morph into a public resource and medium of discourse for living in the 21st century. Although not everyone is on the Internet and its uses vary, Evans’ early notions of creative manipulation of machines reveals itself in blogs, websites, research, news, and other online communication taking place at every moment of every day.

On October 3, 1998, Evans lost his life at the age of 74 to Alzheimer’s disease — a disease known for potentially consuming a person’s memory, whereas Evans spent his entire professional career studying that of computers. (Markoff, 1998) He was survived by his wife, Joy, and seven children at the time of his death. (Markoff, 1998)

Certainly, Evans could be remembered as a man ahead of his time. It is fair to say he was a visionary, an idealist with heightened intelligence and the acquired skills of an experienced communicator. Essentially, he was an important Utah figure in Internet history who had experimented with language and communication in the form of pictures and computers — a legacy that remains relevant today.

Abby M. Reyes is a senior at the University of Utah. She will complete her Bachelor of Science Honors degree in May 2015 having majored in communication studies and minored in health.

Sources

David C. Evans (1969). Graphical man/machine communications: November 1969 AD708483. University of Utah, National Technical Information Service.

David C. Evans papers, Ms 625, Box 1: Personal Correspondences (1969-1982); folder 2: March, 1973—April, 1974, Special Collections and Archives University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

David C. Evans papers, Ms 625, Box 5: University of Utah and Speeches; folder 1-5: University of Utah, Correspondence (1967-1987), Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

David C. Evans papers, Ms 625, Box 5: University of Utah and Speeches; folder 17-28: Speeches and Lectures (1966-1985), Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

David C. Evans papers, Ms 625, Box 89: United States Government; folder 2: Department of Defense, Advanced Research Projects Agency, Correspondence (1970-1977), Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

David C. Evans papers, Ms 625, Box 89: United States Government; folder 3: Department of Defense, Advanced Research Projects Agency, Proposal and Draft (1976), Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

David C. Evans papers, Ms 625, Box 89: United States Government; folder 7-8: Department of Defense, Advanced Research Projects Agency (1969), Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

David C. Evans papers, Ms 625, Box 104: Affiliated Companies and Customers; folder 35: Minneapolis Star-Tribune (1971), Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

The David C. Evans Papers, P0452, Box 1, Manuscripts Division, Special Collections, University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Harvey, Tom, “U. of U. helped give birth to Internet,” The Salt Lake Tribune, December 19, 2009.

Hauben, Michael and R. Hauben. “Behind the Net: The Untold History of the ARPANET and Computer Science,” Chapter 7, Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet (2006).

Jensen, Mark. “Inventory of the David C. Evans papers, 1958-1987,” Northwest Digital Archive (NWDA) (1996).

Markoff, John. “David Evans, Pioneer in Computer Graphics, Dies at 74,” The New York Times, October 12, 1998.

The ARPANET Project,” ARPANET collection, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

 

Lagoon, the Roller Coaster, and the Kilee King Investigation, 1989

by JOHANNA M. MELIK

In the late 1800s, Utah’s beloved amusement park, today known as Lagoon, was located in a different area along the shores of the Great Salt Lake, along with other “recreational resorts.” Not only was Lagoon’s location different back in the day, but its name was too. The resort was called “Lake Park,” and was open to the public on July 15, 1886. “It was one of the most attractive watering places in the West.” (127 Years) However, in 1893, the Great Salt Lake began to recede, leaving this once wonderful paradise surrounded by “a sticky, blue mud that was miserable to swimmers and guests.” (127 Years) This nasty inconvenience, among other reasons, basically forced Lake Park to switch locations and relocate to its current address in Farmington in 1896. The new home of this park was situated on the banks of a nine-acre lagoon, two and one-half miles inland from its original location, providing the park with its new name: Lagoon. (127 Years)

Department of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

The thrill ride, Shoot-the-Chutes, was popular in 1896. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

The same year of its relocation, Lagoon presented its first thrill ride, Shoot-the-Chutes, which is similar to today’s Log Flume ride. Later, in 1921, one of the most well known rides of this amusement park was finally introduced and “the roar of the Roller Coaster began.” (127 Years) “Almost 90 years old,” Arave writes, “the Lagoon Roller Coaster remains one of the most popular attractions at the park and is one of only a few wooden coasters between Denver and the West Coast.”

According to Lagoon’s press kit, a fire in 1953 destroyed the front of this coaster. It was rebuilt the following year, and sections of the Roller Coaster have been rebuilt each year since then. In that same press kit, Lagoon ensured the ride was, and would be, safe for the community. “The tracks are walked and thoroughly checked over each day before being put into use for the public.” (127 Years) As true as this may be, there have still been a few accidents, even fatal incidents, which occurred on this very ride. However, it seems that in all of those situations, Lagoon was not at fault. Arave writes that those deaths were caused by the “patron’s own negligence or recklessness.” In fact, the odds of being killed on one of these rides are about two chances in 43 million. (Arave) Rep. Blaze Wharton, D-Salt Lake, “compliments Lagoon’s safety record and doesn’t think, given information about the recent accident, that inspections could have prevented the deaths.” (Deseret News, June 25)

In the specific case of Kilee King, a 13-year-old girl of Bountiful who died on the infamous wooden Roller Coaster in 1989, investigation proved that no criminal negligence was involved. (Rosebrock, June 14) According to a June 29 story in the Deseret News, the Farmington police detective who investigated the incident found that the death of this teenage girl was a “fluke combination of her physique, actions and the laws of physics.” (Rosebrock, June 29) King was a slim, 5 feet 3 inches tall girl who only weighed 71 pounds. “In effect, it was a quirk of physics, combined with what the girl did and her height and weight,” said Detective Sgt. Jeff Jacobson after investigation of the incident. (Rosebrock, June 29)

Deseret News reporter Joel Campbell wrote on June 11 that Kilee King died at the park after falling from the front seat of the ride’s carts. “Witnesses said that the girl stood up from beneath a locked retraining bar, lost her balance and fell to a grassy area beneath the coaster.” According to that same article, the coaster had just gone over the curve of its second hill when she lost contact with the cart. The girl pushed herself up against the safety bar as the cart was at the peak of the hill, raised her arms above her head and lifted up off her seat as the cart took its ordinary “downward plunge.” The momentum from her forward and upward motion caused her to slip from under the bar, falling 35 feet to the ground. (Deseret News, July 29) The South Davis Fire Department officials said the girl was pronounced dead before any emergency medical personnel had arrived. (Deseret News, June 11)

The victim was the daughter of J. Wayne and Susan King. After the terrible incident, Susan filed a lawsuit against the amusement park, charging it with negligence. (Deseret News, July 29) According to Deseret News reports on July 29, 1989, Mrs. King stated that the design and operation of the park’s roller coaster was dangerous and that the lack of sufficient safety restraints is what had allowed her daughter to be thrown from the ride. Lagoon officials choose to not disclose much information about the lawsuits filed against the park, but according to Detective Jacobson’s findings, this was not the case. (Deseret News, July 29) According to Deseret News reporter Don Rosebrock, King had a season pass to Lagoon and had ridden the roller coaster multiple times prior to the deadly accident.

Department of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

A postcard view of Lagoon. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Being a part of the LDS church, King’s passing was a topic of discussion during one of her church’s meetings. “We discussed the fact that her spirit had left her body, that she was still living…. We explained she will continue to live and they [young people whom she was friends with] should not be fearful and they would see her again,” stated Bishop Sherman Fuller, in an article written by Deseret News on June 12. “There was an air of peace.” Friends and neighbors remembered King as “vivacious, energetic and a natural leader.” She was thought of as someone whom everybody liked. (Deseret News, June 12) She was the type of person who did not care about what others had, “maybe they weren’t as popular or energetic. She tried to bring those people forward. She tried to involve them,” said Fuller in the article. (Deseret News, June 12) One of her “lifetime” friends, Katie Gardiner, was one of the people whom she “went out of her way to make feel accepted by a group of friends.” (Deseret News, June 12) Another one of King’s friends, Jeremy Christoffersen, said, “Next year in eighth grade I will think about her a lot and that she is gone. We spend a lot of time together. I used to go to Lagoon a lot with her. We went to a restaurant as a presidency. She was always laughing and smiling…. I still don’t understand what happened on the roller coaster.” (Deseret News, June 12)

The park itself remained opened after this accident, but the ride was shut down for inspection. (Rosebrock, June 14) However, “two studies, using research by doctors, scientists, astronauts and engineers, say amusement park rides are very safe.” (Deseret News, Jan. 21) J. Clark Robinson, a worker at Lagoon for 27 years who was president of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, said that the studies “have brought to light scientific proof that our rides are safe.” (Deseret News, Jan. 21)

People should not worry about accidents when visiting Lagoon, because cases such as Kilee King’s are very uncommon. Over the 127 years that Lagoon has been running and available to the public, there have been 16 deaths overall, including incidents not involving any of the rides themselves (such as heart attacks). Nearly half of those were caused by “the patron’s own negligence or recklessness.” (Arave) So it is, however, important to know how to keep yourself safe when riding these rides, in order to avoid a tragic accident. There are just some things that cannot be controlled by a safety restraint.

Johanna M. Melik is a junior at The University of Utah, majoring in mass communication.

Sources

Joel Campbell, “OFFICIALS PROBING DEATH OF GIRL, 13, WHO FELL FROM ROLLER COASTER,” Deseret News, June 11, 1989.

Joel Campbell, “KILEE WAS HAPPY AND CARING GIRL FRIENDS RECALL,” Deseret News, June 12, 1989.

Don Rosebrock and Joel Campbell, “BOUNTIFUL GIRL’S DEATH NOT THE 1st ON LAGOON’S WOODEN ROLLER COASTER,” Deseret News, June 13, 1989.

Don Rosebrock, “TEEN’S DEATH ON ROLLER COASTER AT LAGOON IS RULED ACCIDENTAL,” Deseret News, June 14, 1989.

Joel Campbell and Ray Eldard, “LEGISLATOR WANTS INSPECTIONS OF CARNIVAL, PARK RIDES,” Deseret News, June 25, 1989.

Don Rosebrock, “ROLLER COASTER DEATH CALLED A FLUKE A QUIRK OF PHYSICS, TEEN’S PHYSIQUE AND HER ACTIONS, DETECTIVE SAYS,” Deseret News, June 29, 1989.

“BOUNTIFUL MOTHER FILES LAWSUIT IN DEATH OF DAUGHTER AT LAGOON,” Deseret News, July 29, 1989.

Lynn Arave, “Lagoon questions data on injuries,” Deseret News, August 15, 2000.

Lee Davidson,“2 studies declare roller coaster safe,” Deseret News, January 21, 2003.

Arave, Lynn. “It’s About Fun: A History of Lagoon Amusement/Theme Park.” The Mystery Of Utah.

127 Years of Family Fun!” Lagoon Corp. Media Resources.

 

The Salt Lake Tribune’s Coverage of the Cancellation of ‘Brokeback Mountain’

by MIRANDA A. KNOWLES

Ang Lee’s 2005 film, Brokeback Mountain, portrayed  two cowboys, Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar (performed by Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger), who showcased their “forbidden” love. The film created controversy all over the world — including in Utah.

According to ads in the Deseret Morning News and Salt Lake Tribune, Brokeback Mountain was scheduled to play at 12:45 p.m., Friday, January 6, 2006, at Megaplex 17 at Jordan Commons. But the previous night, the film was pulled from its schedule and replaced by another film after the owner of Megaplex 17, Larry H. Miller, learned that the film was about two gay cowboys. The film’s cancellation brought up public debate all over Utah. From January 6, 2006, to January 31, 2006, The Salt Lake Tribune’s coverage of the cancellation showed both sides of the controversy and the power of communication as it shapes public debate.

Findings

The Brokeback Mountain vs. Larry H. Miller controversy began during a KCPW-FM interview with Miller and Jonathan Brown. The interview on the Salt Lake City public radio station was done on Thursday, January 5, 2006, the day before the film was released in theaters, and aired the next day. An article by Sean P. Means and Sheena McFarland published in The Salt Lake Tribune on January 7 discussed the interview between Miller and Brown. According to the article, Brown said during the interview, “Miller was unaware of the storyline of Brokeback Mountain … until Brown described it to him Thursday.”

The Salt Lake Tribune’s Brandon Griggs also discussed Miller and Brown’s interview in his article, published January 11. The article said Miller’s initial response to booking the film was because the film had received seven Golden Globe nominations. Miller saw this as a sign of its “potentially broad appeal.” Toward the end of the radio interview Miller stated,“It is possible that the content of this [film] … is offensive enough to a large enough segment of the population that this is one that slipped by our screening process. Maybe I’ve been a little naive and not paid proper attention to it and let it slip through the cracks. If I have, then I made a mistake.”

Nothing in the interview made it sound like Miller would take matters to the extreme and completely cancel the film before it began playing. The interview made it sound like Miller would first see how audiences reacted to the film. If there was a negative response, then he would pull the film from showing. However, two hours after the interview, Miller canceled the show from playing.

This cartoon, by the Salt Lake Tribune's Pat Bagley, appeared . Used with permission.

This cartoon, by the Salt Lake Tribune‘s Pat Bagley, appeared in the paper on January 10, 2006. Used with permission.

The Salt Lake Tribune’s website posted an update on the cancellation shortly after the decision to pull the movie from theaters appeared. The update, posted on January 6, stated, “The Megaplex 17 announced it was pulling the film late Thursday afternoon. The change-of-heart came too late to remove the title from the theater’s ads in today’s Salt Lake Tribune”

The update was the beginning of a media frenzy that included numerous editorials, columns, and letters to the editor. Of the articles published, most focused on Miller’s lack of response, how the film was doing in award season, the business aspect of the cancellation, the world’s reaction to the cancellation, and what the film was about — love. The issues at large, such as morals, civil liberties, and press bias were brought up through countless letters to the editors.

Means and McFarland were among the first journalists to report on the cancellation. In their article, published January 7 and titled, “‘Brokeback’ gets boot,” they discussed the details of the cancellation and what Focus Feature (the production company of the film) had to say about it. The article also interviewed Carol Adams about her reactions to the film’s cancellation. The local woman wanted to see the film and was saddened to learn that it had been canceled.

Articles also discussed  negative public relations, Miller’s continuous silence on the issue, and of course the world’s reaction. According to Lesley Mitchell’s article, published in The Salt Lake Tribune on January 12, “Miller’s silence has helped give the story international appeal.” Another article by Griggs, published January 15 and titled, “‘Brokeback Mountain’: Why all the fuss?,” discussed the huge reaction to the film and the cancellation. This article is the most blunt of any article published in The Salt Lake Tribune because Griggs stated the hard truth on why the film was pulled from the schedule: “Men having sex.” Griggs explained that the homosexual relationship was the reason why people were getting so upset. Griggs also addressed hypocritical morals when  he wrote, “How is a gay love story more morally offensive than other movies — such as ‘Hostel,’ a horror film that shows sadists fulfilling their depraved fantasies by paying to torture other people; or the stoner comedy ‘Grandma’s Boy,’ which features drug use in almost every scene — now playing at Miller’s theaters?” His questions and bluntness were met with countless letters on the matter by Utah’s citizens.

Similarly, Griggs’ article, “‘Brokeback’ squelch has spotlight on Utah again,” published January 11, discussed the world’s reaction and Heath Ledger’s. Ledger was quoted as saying, “It’s all just really unnecessary” and “Personally I don’t think the movie is [controversial], but I think maybe the Mormons in Utah do. I think it’s hilarious and very immature of a society.” Griggs also reported, “Articles about the snub have made international headlines. NBC’s Jay Leno and MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann joked about it on the air Monday night.” Steven Oberbeck’s article, “Miller’s move: shrewd or rash?,” published January 13, quoted Paul Mero of the Sutherland Institute, a conservative think-tank in Salt Lake City. Mero stated, “Considering the conservative nature of our population, I’m sure a lot of people think: We’ll, it’s [Millers’] business and he’s entitled to do with it what he wants.”

The cancellation was something to talk about, and Utah’s citizens made sure their voices were heard. The letters were short, blunt, and very opinionated. One Salt Lake Tribune reader, Karla G. McGuigan, said the decision was an “encroachment into American citizens’ rights to civil liberties.” However, another reader, Bret A. Stapley, responded with, “Larry H. Miller is a private business owner who decides what is best for his own business. This is not a case of ‘government censorship’ or a civil liberty violation.”

Robert Seifert also questioned Larry H. Miller’s morals in a letter titled, “Miller’s moral compass.” Seifert, like Brandon Griggs, brought  up the hypocrisy of playing Hostel and not Brokeback Mountain. Seifert stated, “To sum up, pulling ‘Brokeback Mountain’ tells young people that being gay is unacceptable, so not pulling the movie ‘Hostel’ (being shown in the same theater complex) sends the message that torturing and mutilating other human beings is all right.” Harry A. Rodes disagreed in his letter, titled, “Morally correct decision”: “I would like to call on moral-minded people in Utah to actively support Miller’s businesses, especially his movie theater, to show the state and the country that there are still some people who have not given in to societal pressure to accept that which is immoral. He should be praised, not condemned.”

Readers also began saying that The Salt Lake Tribune was biased toward the gay community. Morgan T. Beach wrote in a letter titled, “Tribune’s gay bias,” published January 17: “I wonder how  many favorable articles and commentaries you would devote toward a movie of the same caliber, romanticizing the polygamous lifestyle.” The same day another Salt Lake Tribune reader, JoAnn Nokes, sent in a letter titled, “Get on with Life.” Nokes wrote, “Decisions are made daily. So accept it and let’s get on with life.”

Though The Salt Lake Tribune did indeed publish positive reviews for the film, it was not the only newspaper in Utah to do so. According to a journal article published in August 2008 by Brenda Cooper and Edward C. Pease, Brokeback Mountain was rated positively by several Utah newspapers. The article stated, “Despite the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ (LDS) position that homosexuality is a sin and that practicing homosexuals may be excommunicated, the church-owned daily newspaper, the Deseret Morning News, gave the film three and a half stars out of four, and The Daily Herald of Provo, Utah — home of the LDS-owned Brigham Young University — also reviewed Brokeback positively.”

Conclusion

Utah’s reaction to Larry H. Miller’s decision to pull Brokeback Mountain from his theatre was one of great debate. The divide between Utah’s views on heterosexuality, ethics, morals, and business standards was showcased through the great response of Utah’s citizens. In 2009, Cooper and Pease published another article on the topic of Brokeback Mountain. The article, published in Western Journal of Communication, discussed how newspapers framed the controversy over the film. Cooper and Pease’s study found that of the 188 Brokeback-Miller items published during January 6, 2006-February 2006, 55 percent opposed the cancellation of the film and 45 percent  defended the cancellation. The study also found that 153 letters were published statewide. Of the 153, 48 percent were pro-Miller, and 52 percent were anti-Miller. Of those 153 letters, 34 were published in The Salt Lake Tribune. My research, along with Cooper and Pease’s research, proves that Utah was greatly divided on the issue. People discussed the film’s cancellation and topics related to Miller’s decision, including morals, business practices, civil liberties, press bias, and the amount of attention devoted to the issue.

Miranda A. Knowles is a senior at The University of Utah. She is majoring in communication and minoring in sociology.

Sources

JoAnn Nokes, “Get on with life,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 17, 2006, A8.

Morgan T. Beach, “Tribune’s gay bias,” The Salt Lake Tribune. January 17, 2006, A8.

Brandon Griggs, “Why all the fuss?,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 15, 2006, D1.

Harry A. Rodas, “Morally correct decision,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 15, 2006, AA2.

Robert Seifert, “Miller’s moral compass,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 13, 2006, A12.

Steven Oberbeck, “Miller’s move: shrewd or rash?,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 13, 2006, A1.

Brandon Griggs, “‘Brokeback’ squelch has spotlight on Utah again,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, 2006, A1.

Bret A. Stapley, “Simple as That,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, 2006.

Lesley Mitchell, “Media pros say silence on pulling gay movie gives the story legs,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, 2006.

Karla G. McGuigan, “Denial of Civil liberties,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 10, 2006.

Sean P. Means and Sheena McFarland, “‘Brokeback’ gets boot,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 7, 2006, A1.

“Update: Miller’s theater pulls Brokeback mountain,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 6, 2006.

Cooper, Brenda and Edward C. Pease. “Framing Brokeback Mountain: How the popular press corralled the “Gay Cowboy Movie.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 25, no. 3 (Aug. 2008): 249-273.

Cooper, Brenda and Edward C. Pease. “The Mormons Versus the ‘Armies of Satan’: Competing Frames of Morality in the Brokeback Mountain Controversy in Utah Newspapers.” Western Journal of Communication 73, no. 2 (April-June 2009): 134-156.

Salt Lake City and the Economy, One Year after the Stock Market Crash

by JOEY KINGSTON

Salt Lake City has a rich economic history that dates from the time it was settled in July 1847. That history is discussed in detail in the July 25, 1914, issue of The Salt Lake Tribune. When Latter-day Saints settlers arrived from the East, they quickly found that the Salt Lake Valley had a large reserve of copper just west of the Wasatch Front.

Salt Lake Tribune article published in November 1919 observed that mines quickly sprang up in the Salt Lake Valley and became an asset to Utah’s economy.

A view of Main Street, in downtown Salt Lake City, where most businesses were located. The image was made shortly before the onset of the Great Depression.

A view of Main Street, in downtown Salt Lake City, where most businesses were located. The image was made shortly before the onset of the Great Depression. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Today the economy of the Salt Lake Valley is still strong, but has changed drastically from the mining town it once was. Looking at downtown Salt Lake City today, one sees high-rise business buildings and large universities. Now one of the largest industries in the Salt Lake Valley is the banking industry, with the Chase tower and Wells Fargo tower located downtown. The economy is strong and the unemployment rate is low. But Salt Lake wasn’t always one of the economically strongest cities in America. There was a time, in fact, when it had one of the highest unemployment rates in the US, and poverty was at an all-time high. It all began in 1929, when the stock market crashed at the end of October.

Before the stock market crash, most people were either employed by the mining companies just west of Salt Lake or worked in factories in Salt Lake. But what was the city like a year after the market crash? We know that the effects of the stock market crash weren’t really felt in the first couple of months. Many commented on the stock volatility, but many were optimistic at first. Then after several months, the full effects of the crash were realized. We will take a look at what Salt Lake City economy was like a full year after the 1929 stock market crash on Wall Street.

One of the many mines that were located just west of Salt Lake City. They were the driving force of the economy in the 1920s, but saw difficult times in the '30s. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

One of the many mines that were located just west of Salt Lake City. They were the driving force of the economy in the 1920s, but saw difficult times in the 1930s. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

By the end of 1930, the stock market crash had reached all parts of the United States. Utah and the Salt Lake Valley had been hit especially hard. Their main source of employment had come to a halt; the coal industry and agricultural industry had decreased dramatically during that year. The Salt Lake Telegram reported on March 20, 1930, that the poor economy, plus several fatal mine explosions, caused the coal companies to lay off a large portion of their workers. Making matters worse, the agricultural industry In the Salt Lake Valley had decreased by almost half, causing even more local lay offs.

So how bad was it a year after the great depression hit? Some newspapers were optimistic regarding the stock market, claiming that stocks were on a rise and that jobs were being created every day. (Walzer) The reality was quite different, though. An article published in the Salt Lake Telegram exactly one year after the crash tells the story of a man who killed himself and his two sons by jumping off a building. This man had lost his wife the year before, and shortly afterward he lost his job as a tailor and never found a new job. Out of desperation, he committed suicide. While this was not representative of every situation in the Salt Lake Valley, it is a good reflection of the disparity many of the residence were in.

In addition, the coal industry was struggling and the banking industry slowed. (Thomas) In the first year alone, more than 25 banks failed. One particular failure that was a hard hit on the economy in Utah was the Ogden First National Bank. It was one of the largest banks in Utah at the time, reported the Salt Lake Telegram. (August 31, 1934)

The Walker Bank building, built in 1912 and located in the heart of downtown. The bank struggled during the 1930s due to the Great Depression. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library.

The Walker Bank building, built in 1912 and located in the heart of downtown. The bank struggled during the 1930s due to the Great Depression. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

At the year mark the Depression was in full effect in Salt Lake City and the whole valley. Unemployment was at an all-time high, reaching over 10 percent, according to Dean May. That statistic was one of the highest in the country, and was still rising. This was one of the lowest points in Salt Lake City’s history. Although unemployment was at an all-time high, there were several reports of local stimuli as well as government-assisted stimuli that were put in place. On October 30, 1930, the Davis County Clipper reported construction of a new office building. Its purpose was to offer office space at a cheaper rate than that of a similar building in Salt Lake City and thus stimulate small business in Salt Lake City and encourage the employment of more people. This is not the only case of artificial stimuli being implemented in the Salt Lake Valley. In December 1930, the Clipper reported that the federal government was getting involved. The proposed project was a new waterway system to be put in Salt Lake City to supply clean water to residents. This stimulus project was supposed to employ up to a thousand new government employees.

Alexander writes that by the one-year anniversary of the stock market crash, things were steadily worsening. The first year there was an additional 5.1 percent of unemployed. That doesn’t sound too bad, but the jump from the first year and the second year was 21.9 percent unemployment rate. The government knew it needed to get involved. Unfortunately, the federal government was spread thin at this point, so most of the burden fell on county government and private relief. At the time one of the largest groups in Salt Lake City was people of the LDS faith. Dean May wrote that in Salt Lake City at the time, about half the residents were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most of the aid came from the church’s relief programs. Over 70 percent of the families receiving welfare from the LDS relief programs were not of that faith.

Salt Lake City was one of the hardest-hit cities in America. The stock market crash affected not just individual families but also whole communities. The first year was a hard year and it only got harder thereafter. Dozens of banks shut down, farms went out of business, and the mining industry suffered. The unemployment rate was growing and people were in the pit of despair. Welfare programs were just coming to the rescue, but help was hard to find. The year after the great Wall Street crash was a tough time for people in the Salt Lake Valley — and the worst was yet to come as the Great Depression took hold.

Joey Kingston is a junior at the University of Utah majoring in marketing with a minor in media communications. He expects to graduate in spring 2015.

Sources

“Cement firm sues Ogden state bank,” The Salt Lake Telegram, August 31, 1934, 5.

Edward Pickard, “Inland water way projects being pushed thorough to give jobs to unemployed,” Davis County Clipper, December 5, 1930, 3.

“New office building announced,” Davis County Clipper, October 31, 1930, 6.

Elmer Walzer, “Stock values climb fast as trading ends,” Salt Lake Telegram, October 30, 1930, 6.

“Man kills self after two attempts fail,” The Salt Lake Telegram, October 30, 1930, 5.

“Mine inspector blames lack of supervision in fatal mine explosion,” The Salt Lake Telegram, March 20, 1930, 8.

“Banker defends mining industry,” The Salt Lake Tribune, November 14, 1919, 2.

“Pioneer day celebration is big success,” The Salt Lake Tribune, July 25, 1914, 4.

Alexander, Thomas. Utah, The Right Place. Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 2003.

May, Dean. Utah: A People’s History. Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1987.