Category Archives: Animals

Liberty Park

Published / by Pablo Gonzalez / Leave a Comment

Write up by – Pablo Gonzalez 

Placed by: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, No. 130 

GPS Coordinates: 40.746445, -111.874916 

Historical Marker Text: 

Historical Marker Number 130

The original five acre plot, located in the Big Field Survey, was assigned to Isaac Chase, a pioneer of 1847. A spring of clear water made it a verdant spot. Later he purchased three other tracts and planted seeds of locust trees around his home and mill. 

In 1860, it became the property of Brigham Young who added varieties of Mulberry, Cottonwood, and other trees. In Pioneer Days, it was known as the Mill Farm, Forest Park, and Locust Patch. 

In 1881, Salt Lake City purchased the land from the Young Estate. On June 17, 1882, it was formally opened as a recreational area and officially named Liberty Park. 

Extended Research: 

Liberty Park is an 80-acre lot located in the heart of Salt Lake City. Today the park is a recreational area where many memories have been created with all of the activities that this place offers. People go to Liberty Park to be active, learn history, relax, and to simply hang out with friends and family. The park itself is a great historical marker because it has history dating back to 1847 and has seen major changes throughout time.  

This area originally belonged to Isaac Chase, who was among the second group of Latter-day Saints to arrive in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Isaac Chase who was a successful miller in New York state, started building a mill on this property and it was finished being built in 1852.1 In 1854 Brigham Young, being his son in law, also became Isaac Chase’s business partner. In 1859, Isaac Chase gave this land to Brigham Young in exchange for a cabin in Centerville. Before Brigham Young’s death in 1877, he stated that he wished that the land on which the mill stood would be sold to the city for the lowest possible price.2 

On April 20th, 1881 Salt Lake City bought 100 acres of land from Brigham Young’s estate for $27,500.3 This land that originally belonged to Isaac Chase still contained his grist mill. This mill is also currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also the only remaining mill in Salt Lake City that is still in its original location. When Salt Lake City bought this land, their primary intention was to create the farm area into a park for the city. This is because parks during this time “were seen as important factors in civilizing America’s increasingly industrialized cities and improving the moral character of their inhabitants.”4 This is the reason why the following year after the land was bought, they started improving the park under the control of a Swiss man named Arnold Schultes.5 In 1882, the land was officially opened as a recreational area and was formally named Liberty Park. 

Liberty Park

When the Park first opened up, it had a road that went right through the middle of the park dividing it in half.6 The city eventually closed that road to traffic. Liberty Park was viewed as a great addition to the city but it had some controversy over clean air. People believed that smelter smoke was damaging the park and the neighboring residential areas. In 1908, Salt Lake Mayor John Bransford said that smoke reduction was the city’s most urgent need.7 This project was a success and the air quality around Liberty Park got significantly better.

The first playground opened in Liberty Park by 1912, and it remained Salt Lake City’s largest park until Sugar House Park opened in the early 1950s.8 The park, and many of the features that are still present within it, were well established by 1920. The park was a popular attraction for Salt Lake City residents.

In 1911, Liberty Park opened up a zoo by adding monkeys and deer to the park and by 1916 they added their first elephant.10 The zoo stayed operational until 1931 when the zoo moved to what we know today as Hogle Zoo in Emigration Canyon.11 A 1931 report on parks and recreation centers describes the park this way: “Broad driveways bordered by colonnades of shade trees; lawns, flowers, lakes, playgrounds, tennis courts, concerts, and the municipal zoo have long been the outstanding attraction of this extensive park.”9

In the 1930s Tracy Aviary was added to the park when Russel Tracy donated a large collection of birds and equipment.12 This was a huge success since it brought a lot of attention to the park. By the 1980s, Liberty Park added new playgrounds, a carousel, and the road that split liberty park was no longer there. In fact, the road is how we know it today as having a one-way loop around the entire park.13 More recently, changes to Liberty Park include restrooms, a concession building, Wilson Pavilion, and several monuments. Activity areas recently constructed include: the Seven Canyons water feature, playgrounds, and bocce ball courts, lighting, fencing, signage, street furniture, mechanical boxes, and new sidewalks.14

 Today Liberty Park is still what it was intended to be when it first opened up in 1882. It is a large area meant for recreational activities. The park itself is a very spacious place where people can do a variety of activities like walking/running, swimming, play tennis, be on paddle boats, go to the children’s amusement park, playgrounds, picnic facilities, and they have plenty of room for recreation or relaxation.15 The park itself also hosts many events for the general public like a firework show during Pioneer Day.  

For Further Reference: 

Primary Sources: 

Liberty Park, Site Planning Workshop Report, Aviary & Concession Areas. Final report, June 2014.  

Bailey, Tom. Liberty Park, S.L.C. P.45. Print Photograph. Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah. 01/16/2009.  

Secondary Sources: 

Chase Barfuss, Brigham Young University. “Isaac Chase Mill.” Intermountain Histories. Accessed February 3, 2022.

“Liberty Park Has Been an Oasis in City since 1881.” Deseret News. Deseret News, October 18, 2010.  

“A Look Back: Liberty Park (and Its Kangaroos), 1935-51.” The Salt Lake Tribune, June 10, 2011. Accessed February 3, 2022.

Aunt Libby’s Dog Cemetery

Published / by Shannon Gebbia / 2 Comments on Aunt Libby’s Dog Cemetery

write-up by Shannon Gebbia

Placed by: Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Associations, No 95

GPS Coordinates: N 40° 07.123, W 112° 34.660

Historical Marker Text:


Enclosing graves (west side) of two men and a child emigrants of the early eighteen sixties.

Original wall erected in 1888, By Mrs. Horace (Aunt Libby) Rockwell to shelter graves of her beloved dogs. 1. Jenny Lind, 2. Josephine Bonaparte, 3. Bishop, 4. Toby Tyler, Companions in her lonely, childless vigils here about 1866 to 1890.

Erected by enrollees U.S. grazing division C.C.C camp g-154, company 2517.

Utah pioneer trails and landmarks association Tooele tourism tax grant

Sons of Utah pioneers

-settlement canyon chapter

SUP No. 239     Rededicated 2017

Extended Research:

Sometime between 1860 and 1870, Horace Rockwell and his wife Elizabeth “Libby” Rockwell moved to Skull Valley, a 40-mile long valley in what is now Tooele County, Utah. They operated the Pony Express station known as Point Lookout then continued living on the property in a log cabin built by stage workers after the station had closed.[1] They became horse and cattle ranchers and garnered a reputation as “rough frontiers folk” and “two strange characters.”[2], [3] Over time, the pair came to be known affectionately as Uncle Horace and Aunt Libby.

Uncle Horace and Aunt Libby owned one of the only sources of water along their stretch of the Overland Trail and charged travelers a fee to access it. Many riders and locals remembered Aunt Libby for smoking a pipe and treating her dogs better than her hired men.[4] Her “colony of dogs” were described as black and tan, short-haired, possibly of the “Fiste” breed (perhaps a misspelling of Feist, a small hunting terrier).[5] Aunt Libby liked to name some of her dogs after popular characters of the time, both fictional and real. Her variety of name choices reveals a wide range of interests in music, history, and popular literature: Jenny Lind, the “Swedish Nightingale” of the mid- to late-19th century opera scene; Josephine Bonaparte, the first Empress of France; and Toby Tyler, the 10-year-old protagonist of the children’s novel, Toby Tyler; or, Ten Weeks with a Circus.[6]

Photo of the site in August, 1941, prior to restoration by the UPTLA.

 As testament to her devotion for her dogs, Dr. W. M. Stookey, a member of the Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks association, recalls an instance when Aunt Libby called upon Tooele’s Dr. William Bovee Dods to tend to one of her dogs, which had fallen ill. When Dr. Dods refused, Libby forced one of her workers, Elijah Perkins, to play sick, thus tricking Dods into paying a visit to the cabin. Once there, he reluctantly tended to the dog, and she paid him $100. Aunt Libby’s trick only worked once—the next time a dog got sick, the Rockwells had to travel roughly 70 miles to Salt Lake City.[7]

Photo of the site in August, 1941, prior to restoration by the UPTLA.

When one dog died en route for treatment in Salt Lake City, Aunt Libby brought him back to Point Lookout and buried him near a collection of three graves belonging to immigrants who had died while passing through Skull Valley.[8] She then hired a stone worker, Gustave E. Johnson, to build a wall around the small graveyard.[9] As her beloved dogs passed on over the years, Aunt Libby buried each one in her cemetery.

The Rockwells moved to California sometime after May 25, 1890 and lived there for the remainder of their lives.[10] Aunt Libby’s Dog Cemetery is the only structure still standing on the property known as Point Lookout.

View from Hwy 36 Pony Express Road

The historical significance of this cemetery seems to be centered around its location among the Pony Express stations along Utah’s section of the Overland Trail. Unlike Horace’s brother, Orrin Porter Rockwell, Horace and Libby Rockwell were not major figures in Utah or Mormon history—monuments haven’t been built in their name, we don’t learn about them in history lessons. But one story about a rough, pipe-smoking woman who tricked a Tooele doctor into treating her sick dog has survived the test of time and given historical value to this cemetery. Dr. Stookey explains that the reason for including the cemetery as an “extra in the line, both in design and significance,” was due to a “growing increase in its unique history,” and perhaps because it is one of the only remaining structures along this section of the Overland Trail.[11] Regardless of the reasoning, by including the cemetery among Utah’s historical markers, the UPTLA created an avenue for Aunt Libby’s stories to be retold forever. Within the chasm between the details of each recollection, we find the personality of that “strange character” Aunt Libby. According to most of the people who described her over the years, she was a rough, childless, pipe-smoking woman, unafraid of outlaw Porter.[12] But by way of the legacy of pet cemetery and the stories about her dogs, we see a giving, loving, motherly woman whose cultural knowledge reached far beyond the secluded scope of the Wild West.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources

“Fatally Burned.”  Los Angeles Times. March 26, 1901. Accessed February 24, 2020.

Sharp Manuscript: Stories published by James P. Sharp. Compiled by Shirley Sharp Pitchford and Susan Sharp Hutchinson. Utah State Division of History Archives.

Sharp, James P. “The Pony Express Stations.” Improvement Era (February 1945): 76–77.

Stookey, W. M. “They Died But Lived Again! Aunt Libby Rockwell’s Doggone Dogs and Their Lonely Cemetery Beside the Historic Overland.” Salt Lake Tribune. August 31, 1941. Accessed February 24, 2020.

Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association marker records, ca. 1930–1990s. MSS B 1457, box 1. Utah State Division of History Archives.

Secondary Sources:

Bluth, John F. “The South Central Overland Trail in Western Utah, 1850- 1900.” U. S. Bureau of Land Management.

Bluth, John F. “Supplementary Report on Pony Express Overland Stage Sites in Western Utah.”

Fike, Richard E. and John W. Headley. “The Pony Express Stations of Utah in Historical Perspective.” Cultural Resources Series Monograph 2. Bureau of Land Management of Utah, 1979.

Jessop, J. D. “The Ghost of Aunt Libby May Be Nearby.” Tooele Transcript Bulletin, October 2, 2014.

[1]Bluth, John F. “The South Central Overland Trail in Western Utah, 1850-1900” (U. S. Bureau of Land Management), p. 4. (accessed February 10, 2020); Jessop, J. D. “The Ghost of Aunt Libby May Be Nearby.” Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah, October 2, 2014. (accessed January 29, 2020); Stookey, W. M. “They Died But Lived Again! Aunt Libby Rockwell’s Doggone Dogs and Their Lonely Cemetery Beside the Historic Overland.” The Salt Lake Tribune, August 31, 1941. (accessed February 24, 2020). The exact date is unknown as several accounts differ, but they all agree the Rockwells lived at this location until sometime in 1890.

[2] Stookey.

[3] Sharp, James P., “The Pony Express Stations ,” Improvement Era, (February, 1945), 76-77. (accessed Feburay 10, 2020)

[4] Stookey.

[5] Sharp.

[6] Jessop, Stookey.

[7] Stookey, Jessop. Several newspaper stories reported this story, but the accounts differ as to which dog was ill, who called for Dods, and the amount he charged.

[8] Stookey, Bluth. Three unknown emigrating travelers died and were buried here.

[9] Stookey.

[10] Jessop; Stookey; Los Angeles Times, “Fatally Burned.” March 26, 1901. (accessed February 24, 2020) Again, much is contested about the date, but one fact stands out: Aunt Libby burned in her house after falling asleep smoking her pipe.

[11] Stookey’s article explains the UPTLA’s haste in using the nearby CCC camps to help place markers and monuments along the difficult terrain, and that most Pony Express stations had “little or nothing remaining of the originals.” The survival of this cemetery and its story provide a picture of life along the trail.

[12]Lloyd, Erin. “Colors of Life Paint Rich Past in Rush Valley.” Tooele Transcript-Bulletin, 9 Dec. 1998, pp. 25–27. The article states Porter Rockwell owed $500 to his brother Horace, and Libby vowed to cut off Porter’s hair if the debt remained. LDS history states Porter’s hair long hair held significance to his faith.

Joseph F. Steenblik Park

Published / by Juli Huddleston / Leave a Comment

Write-up by Julia Huddleston

View of Steenblik Park, February 2019.

GPS Coordinates: 40.787, -111.92H

Historical Marker Text:

Joseph F. Steenblik was a friend of youth and a builder of men in cultural, physical, and spiritual activities. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1904, he lived in the Rose Park area since 1908. Over the years, Joseph promoted many scout activities, such as Scout-O-Rama, and chaired scout fund drives. In addition to his support of the Boy Scouts, Joseph recognized that girls need outdoor outings as much as boys. He was instrumental in the organizing and building of the Rose Park Library, Rose Park Gymnasium, and the local church Stake House. He was a good example of a Good Samaritan, kind to the less fortunate, good to his employees, and exemplified the values of dependability and hard work.

Open 8:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M.

Leashed dogs only

No alcoholic beverages

Dairy Cats


Day Christiansen

The “Dairy Cats” were developed with the Steenblik Dairy, a longtime presence in the Rose Park Neighborhood, in mind. The cats are sited so children and adults can enjoy them as they visit or walk through Steenblik Park. The four cats are cast in bronze with variations in patina resulting in a diversity of colors combined with the classic richness of bronze.

“Dairy Cats” is a project of the Salt Lake City public art program, managed by the Salt Lake City Arts Council under the direction of the Salt Lake City Art Design Board. Thanks to the neighborhood representatives who assisted with the project, and also to the City Council member Carlton Christensen, Rose Park Community Council, SLC Parks, SLC Housing and Neighborhood Development, SLC Engineering, and the Department of Community Development.

Dairy Cats by Day Christiansen.

Extended Research:

Joseph F. Steenblik Park is a pocket park located in the heart of the vibrant and closely-knit Rose Park neighborhood in the northwest quadrant of Salt Lake City. Real estate developer Alan Brockbank gave Rose Park its name after he saw a corner market store with blooming rose bushes, which the storeowner credited to the fertile soil in the area. Inspired by the roses, Brockbank gave the new streets names of unusual rose varieties such as American Beauty, Rambler, Talisman, Sonata, Autumn, Debonair, and Nocturne.[1] Rose Park consists primarily of one-story red brick houses, with an architectural cohesion not often found in Salt Lake’s other older neighborhoods.

Even though many of the homes are close to seventy years old, this is not the first housing development to occupy the space. By 1911, the Oakley Park subdivision had become home to many railroad employees of various races, ethnicities, and religious backgrounds due to the proximity to the railroad yards outside downtown Salt Lake City. However, by the mid-1940s the neighborhood was badly blighted, and the health department gave residents an ultimatum to “rid themselves of a collection of horses, cows, stray dogs, hogs, ducks, turkeys, chickens, and goats” or move elsewhere.[2] Brockbank, who created the master plan for the new 2,000-home Rose Park subdivision in 1946, expedited this cleanup effort to meet the post-WWII demand for affordable housing for growing families. While not initially wholly positive for the residents (the new subdivision implemented regrettable restrictive covenant clauses prohibiting people of color from purchasing homes), the area rebounded and is once again welcoming and inclusive, boasting one of the highest rates of racial and ethnic diversity in the Salt Lake valley.[3]

Detail from Sanborn Fire Insurance map showing the Oakley Park subdivision in 1911. Marriott Library Special Collections, Print and Journal Division.

Throughout all these changes, the Steenblik family proved to be a consistent and influential presence in the neighborhood. Joseph F. Steenblik, along with his extended family, was instrumental in both the history and growth of the area. Born in 1904 in Salt Lake City, his parents had emigrated from the Netherlands the year previously. The family moved to Rose Park in 1908, where Joseph and several siblings lived for much of their lives. The family owned and operated Steenblik Dairy, a small-scale dairy farm that supplied milk to Salt Lake’s west side.[4] The dairy, which was located adjacent to the family home at 1442 W. Leadville Avenue, was established around 1920 and was operational into the 1970s. [5] After serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) to Holland, Steenblik married Ruth Reid, and the couple had seven children.

Joseph F. Steenblik’s home, adjacent to Steenblik Dairy. Tax assessment photograph, 1936. Courtesy Salt Lake County Archives.

In addition to working on the family dairy farm, Joseph, alongside his brother Roelof, operated a construction company—Steenblik Construction—which was incorporated in 1952. They were instrumental in aiding with the construction of the Rose Park Stake House, an impressive and unusually large meeting place for the local Latter-day Saint congregations. The building has two chapels, allowing for simultaneous worship services, two meeting halls for social gatherings, a courtyard, a gymnasium, as well as a detached recreation building. Steenblik served as the Stake president (an ecclesiastical position roughly equivalent to a bishop over a Catholic diocese) in addition to other important religious leadership roles.[6] Joseph F. Steenblik died in 1991, at the age of 87.

Steenblik Dairy, commercial tax assessment photograph, 1978. Salt Lake County Archives.

The Joseph F. Steenblik Park was built in 1984 with federal block grant funding, and was named in the “Name the Park” competition proposed by Mayor Palmer DePaulis.[7] In 2007 Salt Lake City commissioned local artist Day Christiansen to create a work of public art that would be emblematic of the neighborhood. Paying homage to Steenblik Dairy, his sculpture Dairy Cats consists of four five-foot tall bronze statues of seated cats that represent mouser cats often found on farms. The park pays tribute to Joseph F. Steenblik and his family’s lasting legacy in Rose Park. His influence is still visible throughout the neighborhood, and has contributed to the vibrancy and resiliency of the community.

[1] Charles L. Doane, Leo W. Russon, Archie S. Hurst, Salt Lake Rose Park Stake History 1955-1980: A Sesquicentennial Project,(Salt Lake City, Utah: Salt Lake Rose Park Stake, Inc. 1980).

[2] Richard W. Bernick, “S. L. Demands West Side Area Cleanup,” Salt Lake Telegram, 6 August, 1948.

[3] Chris Dunsmore, “Rose Park,” Mapping SLC,, March 7, 2019.

[4] “Roelof Steenblik Obituary,” Salt Lake Tribune,  December 26, 2002.

[5] Doane, Russon, and Hurst, Salt Lake Rose Park Stake History 1955-1980: A Sesquicentennial Project, Salt Lake City, Utah: Salt Lake Rose Park Stake, Inc. 1980, 2.

[6] Doane, Russon, and Hurst, (Salt Lake Rose Park Stake History) 207.

[7] Susan Lyman, “Mini-Parks Neighborhood Folk Heroes Find Their Place in the Shade,” Deseret News, August 28, 1988. Accessed via the Deseret News online archive.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Richard W. Bernick. “S. L. Demands West Side Area Cleanup.” Salt Lake Telegram, 6 August, 1948.

Alan Brockbank papers, Ms 604, Marriott Library Special Collections, University of Utah.

Roelof Steenblik Obituary.Salt Lake Tribune.  December 26, 2002.

Salt Lake County Tax Assessment Records, Salt Lake County Archives.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, University of Utah Marriott Library.

Secondary Sources:

Doane, Charles L., Leo W. Russon and Archie S. Hurst. Salt Lake Rose Park Stake History, 1955-1980: A Sesquicentennial Project. Salt Lake City: Salt Lake Rose Park Stake, 1980.

Dunsmore, Chris. “Rose Park.” Mapping SLC, March 7, 2019.

Lyman, Susan. “Mini-Parks: Neighborhood Folk Heroes Find Their Place in the Shade.The Deseret News, August 28, 1988.