Author Archives: Jaclyn Foster

Kennedy Ditch

Published / by Jaclyn Foster / Leave a Comment

write-up by Jaclyn Foster

Placed By: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, no. 96

GPS Coordinates: N 40º44’021” W 111º51’554”

Historical Marker Text:

Photo via Waymarking.com

Daughters of Utah Pioneers
No. 96
Erected 1947

THE KENNEDY DITCH

The Kennedy Ditch was an early pioneer irrigation canal taken out of Parley’s Canyon stream near 17th East. The construction was achieved as a co-operative work project, and the new channel named after its first Water Master, Charles Kennedy, a Utah pioneer of 1848. The area thus brought under cultivation, covered 864 acres of small farm lands extending west of 13th East from near 21st South northward to 9th South, including this spot on Emerson Avenue.
Emerson Camp    Salt Lake County

Photo via Waymarking.com

Extended Research:

Early European explorers of Utah referred to the region as the “Great American Desert.” Most explorers believed the region was unsuitable for settlement, despite the fact that it had sustained Ute, Goshute, Paiute, and other tribes for thousands of years. In 1843, however, John Fremont published a report that suggested the western base of the Wasatch Mountains could be colonized by creating an irrigation system from mountain streams.1

When the Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, creating a planned system of irrigation canals was one of their first priorities. Mormon leader Brigham Young sent an advance party of able-bodied men to the Salt Lake Valley in July of 1847, with the goal of planting crops and building shelters before winter. This advance party laid out city blocks, farmland, and irrigation canals. Subsequent waves of Mormon pioneers expanded upon this planned, communal settlement pattern. City lots were divided into wards, which were supervised by bishops. These bishops oversaw the process of creating irrigation ditches for each ward.

Charles Kennedy. Image via churchofjesuschrist.org.

Communal ownership of water was an important innovation for the Mormon pioneers. In the East, laws commonly mandated that water could not be taken from streams unless it was returned without a reduction in volume. This was clearly impossible in the Salt Lake Valley’s semi-arid environment. Instead, Brigham Young declared that there would be “no private ownership” of water; dams and ditches were constructed by ward communities, rights to use the water depended on whether the land was being cultivated, and public authorities were appointed to supervise and apportion water use. This public authority was called the Water Master, who was appointed by the high council. One Water Master oversaw multiple wards.2

Charles Kennedy was the Water Master of the Kennedy Ditch and surrounding area. He joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois in 1844 and was endowed in 1846. During the migration to Utah, Kennedy served as Commissary for 50 wagons, which meant he was in charge of distributing goods. He was part of the 1848 Brigham Young Company and settled in the Sugar House Ward, where he was appointed Water Master. Sometime between 1860 and 1867, Kennedy left the Mormon Church and moved to Missouri with two of his wives. He died in 1890.3

The missing historical marker

The Kennedy Ditch no longer exists. The current marker at the site of the Kennedy Ditch is missing. However, an online community called Waymarkers, where users log their visits to local landmarkers as a type of real-life scavenger hunt, provides clues about when this marker disappeared. Waymarkers documented the marker up until June 1, 2011; the next entry, on December 12, 2013, notes that the marker had been removed.4 It may be stored in the LDS chapel that currently occupies the site, but its whereabouts are uncertain.

For Future Reference:

Primary Sources

“Charles Kennedy,” Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel 1847-1868, churchofjesuschrist.org

Charles Kennedy,” Missouri Death Records 1834-1910, 1890.

Secondary Sources

Arrington, Leonard. Great Basin Kingdom: Economic History of the Latter-day Saints 1830-1900 (Harvard University Press, 1958).

Barlow, Jacob. “The Kennedy Ditch (Missing),” Waymarking.com (September 11, 2007).

Givens, Robert. “Life of Charles Kennedy,” Family Search (2012).

Footnotes:

1. Leonard Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom: Economic History of the Latter-day Saints 1830-1900 (Harvard University Press, 1958), 44.

2. Arrington, 45-53.

3.Charles Kennedy,” Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel 1847-1868, churchofjesuschrist.org; Robert Givens, “Life of Charles Kennedy,” Family Search (2012).

4. Jacob Barlow, “The Kennedy Ditch (Missing),” Waymarking.com (September 11, 2007).

Cottonwood Paper Mill

Published / by Jaclyn Foster / Leave a Comment

write-up by Jaclyn Foster

Placed By: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, no. 326

GPS Coordinates: N 40º37’603” W 111º48’000”

Historical Marker Text:

Daughters of Utah Pioneers
No. 326
Erected 1966
COTTONWOOD PAPER MILL

In 1880 the Deseret News Corporation purchased a 28-acre millsite including water rights. With Henry Grow, architect and builder, the $150,000 structure, made of granite from nearby quarries with mortar of clay and stone grindings, took three years to erect. The 1860 paper machine from Sugarhouse Mill and some new machinery was installed; a 1500-ft. race brought water through the penstock to encased turbines. The plant could yield 5 tons of paper a day. Chas. J. Lambert, manager, sold to Granite Paper Mills Co. 1892; destroyed by fire 1893; restored 1927 as a recreational center.
Central Company

Extended Research:

The first newspaper established in the Mountain West, the Deseret News, began publication in June of 1850. In order to reduce production costs, LDS leader Brigham Young appointed Thomas Howard, a paper maker from England, to construct a paper mill in Sugar House. The machinery for this mill was updated several times, with thrifty pioneers exchanging parts between beet sugar, iron working, and paper industries. In 1883, under the direction of Henry Grow, Deseret News Company received new paper machinery, and built Cottonwood Paper Mill to house the old machinery for use as a spare. The new mill was built using discarded granite from the construction of the Salt Lake Temple.

After the completion of the railroad, paper became cheaper to import, and the Deseret News sold Cottonwood Paper Mill to Granite Mills Paper Company in 1892. The mill was destroyed by fire in 1893.1

C. R. Savage. Deseret Paper Mill, Mouth of Cottonwood Canon Utah. L. Tom Perry Special Collections

Paper mills produce paper from waste cellulose fibers. In this case, the mill used cotton and linen rags. These rags were cooked and beaten to suspend the cellulose fibers in water. The fibers were collected on framed screens dipped in the water, and the water was removed by stacking frames between felt sheets. After the paper was dry, they were briefly soaked in gelatin or starch solutions, and dried again. This last step was known as “sizing” and prevented ink from feathering.2

Successful operation of the mill was a community endeavor. The mill required a constant supply of rags, which were collected by the Deseret News, public works programs, and church initiatives. In 1861, George Goddard was called on a three-year mission with the sole task of collecting rags for the mill. The calling “was a severe blow to [his] native pride,” but Goddard accepted the assignment. His rag collecting took him from Franklin, Idaho to Sanpete County, and involved preaching sermons on Sunday about rag collection. Goddard collected over 100,000 pounds of rags for the mill. The Women’s Relief Society took over rag collection in 1867 and organized regular rag drives.3

Following its destruction by fire in 1893, the mill remained unused until it was rebuilt in 1927 by J. B. Walker, a private citizen. The mill was transformed into an open-air dance hall, the Old Mill Club, and played a significant role in the local social scene. The club’s use was disrupted by World War II, when rationing increased food prices and military enrollment made mixed-sex activities, such as dancing, impractical. Following the end of the war, the social scene had shifted to drive-in movies, and the Old Mill Club never regained its former prominence, although it had rebranded itself as a “discotheque” by 1970.4 It has remained in the hands of the Walker family, with J. B. Walker’s grandson-in-law managing the property since 1987. The mill was condemned by Cottonwood Heights in 2005 due to earthquake building codes.5

Since its condemnation, the mill has been the target of repeated vandalism and theft. In 2011, thieves stole over $20,000 of copper wiring, and the mill’s historical marker was removed by the owner after he came upon thieves who had cut three of the plaque’s four bolts in order to steal it.6 Today, the mill is a study in contrasts. The crumbling, graffiti-laden building sits just up the road from a private gated community which bears its name and likeness. Residents tell ghost stories about the mill, and when the city of Cottonwood Heights commissioned a book on the community’s history, the mill graced the book’s cover. The mill’s owner envisions a future where the mill is rebuilt and used as an art gallery and dance hall.

For Future Reference:

Primary Sources

The Paper Mill,” Deseret News, April 8 1893.

Cabrero, Alex. “Thieves make away with $20,000 of copper wiring from Old Mill,” KSL News, November 17, 2011.

Secondary Sources

Arrington, Leonard. Great Basin Kingdom: Economic History of the Latter-Day Saints 1830-1900. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966).

Roberts, Allen D. City Between the Canyons: A History of Cottonwood Heights, 1849-1953. Available at Cottonwood Heights City Hall.

Saunders, Richard. “‘Rags! Rags! Rags!!!’: Beginnings of the Paper Industry in the Salt Lake Valley, 1849-1858.” Utah Historical Quarterly 62(1), 1994.

Smith, Melvin T. “National Register of Historic Places Nomination: Granite Paper Mill.” National Register of Historic Places Inventory, National Parks Service, (December 10, 1970).

Footnotes:

1. Melvin T. Smith, “National Register of Historic Places Nomination: Granite Paper Mill.” National Register of Historic Places Inventory, National Parks Service, (December 10, 1970).

2. Richard Saunders, “‘Rags! Rags! Rags!!!’: Beginnings of the Paper Industry in the Salt Lake Valley, 1849-1858.” Utah Historical Quarterly 62(1), 1994

3. Leonard Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom: Economic History of the Latter-Day Saints 1830-1900. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966), 114-116.

4. Melvin Smith, National Register of Historic Places

5. Doug Shelby, interviewed by Jaclyn Foster at Cottonwood Heights residence, February 3, 2019.

6. Alex Cabrero, “Thieves make away with $20,000 of copper wiring from Old Mill,” KSL News, November 17, 2011.