Historical Marker Text 1:In as early as 1892, we saw a boost in the transportation industry. After their first run, the Salt Lake City Railroad Company began regular operation with two rat mules. This proved to be a slow alternative with someone saying, “If there’s time we’ll take the streetcar; if not we’ll walk,” Despite being slow, the company grew in 1883 with the addition of 41 cars, nine miles of track, 84 mules, and 30 employees. On August 8, 1889 a trial run was made with a new car, the trolley. After four different trials, the trolley proved to be a success and a hit in Utah! By 1893, the Salt Lake City Railroad had 63 trolley cars with more than 42 miles of track in operation.
Historical Marker Text 2:
Inside Trolley Square, you can see a model of historic Trolley Square, which took three years to make. This was done by a mechanic, Emerson Carter, who in his twenties worked for the Utah Light and Traction Company. The models, with the exception of the glass covering, are true to 1930’s including houses, churches, and businesses. The model was placed in this historical landmark in November of 1986.
In 1903, E. H.Harriman commissioned the 10 acre land that was previously used as Territorial Fairgrounds that had been abandoned in 1902. Harriman’s new layout of the property held 144 state of the art truck double street cars and was divided into four bays with four tracks each. There were 208 skylines to light the building. With the concern of a fire, Harriman purchased the infamous 50,000 gallon water tower, something you can still see today. The trolley car system ran from Salt Lake, Holladay, Sugar House, Bountiful, and Centerville, totalling 146 miles of track, making it the largest form of transportation in the state.
In the 1930s, Utah Light and Traction Company began replacing its trolley lines with bus routes. All trolley lines had been replaced by bus routes by 1946 and became Utah Power and Light. The Utah Light and Railway Co. stopped operation in the early 1950s, now with the buildings being used for bus storage. In 1976, the lot was purchased by a family in hopes of using the land for retail use. The man behind the mall, Wally Wright, is still known for his work making this trolley station into the booming place it is today.
For Further Research:
Julie L. Sanfield. (2005), Trolley Square History Museum.
The Bountiful Area Historical Society Marker, Photograph by Christopher Bird, January 25 2020.
The Utah Light and Traction Company, in the years 1913-1914, built and began operating a streetcar line running from Salt Lake City to Chase Lane in Centerville. It ran along Highway 91 to White’s Hill, then along Orchard Drive to First South, west to Main Street, then north to Chase Lane. Its power station was located in the tallest portion of this building. Fare was five cents a ticket to the Salt Lake City limits. It cost another nickel to ride into Salt Lake City. In 1920, the fare was raised to seven cents. The streetcar ran every hour until 12:00 P.M. It discontinued its service in 1926.
It took seventeen years between 1872 and 1889 for Salt Lake City to evolve from horse-drawn to electric street car service. However, following the first successful test of electric service in Richmond, Virginia, the electric car traveled quickly to Salt Lake, and began service there in August 1889. Yet, it would then take another twenty-four years before a streetcar line opened in Davis County, North of Salt Lake City. When it did, the line ran from Centerville all the way into Salt Lake, a distance of merely 15 miles. Bountiful streetcar service started on 27 December 1913, with eighteen trolley trips per day and service until midnight (contrary to the Bountiful Area Marker which incorrectly states that service ended at 12 P.M. or noontime).
In 1988, one rider, Ves Harrison, recalled the streetcar route this way:
As I remember, the line ran up Salt Lake City’s Main Street to North Temple turned west to old First West, then continued north to Beck Street, past the old St. Mark’s Hospital, thence north into Davis County on the old State Highway to North Salt Lake, where it veered onto Orchard Drive. It continued north to First South in Bountiful, then down Main Street and on to Centerville and its terminus at Chase Lane.
Routes Nos. 25 and 26 Centerville, Bountiful, and Holliday Lines, p. 33, Utah Light and Traction Company, 1921.
Mr. Harrison’s account is fairly accurate when compared against records from Utah Light and Traction Company, which operated the streetcar service in Davis County. A route booklet from 1921 describes both the north and south bound rail lines, whereas Harrison’s account only described riding the trolley car north. In 1921, the line to Bountiful was known as Route No. 25 and ran with Route No. 26 all the way from Centerville in Davis County to Holliday in Salt Lake County. The southbound route ran on Second South to Main Street then down to Ninth South, further proceeding to Holliday. The northbound route ran up State Street to First South then to West Temple and further proceeding to the Chase Lane Terminus in Davis County. Harrison’s testimony further specified the streetcar line within Bountiful ran along Orchard Drive which matches the fact that the power station for the electric line was also located on Orchard Drive, the current location of the historical marker.
Although fares are described in the historical marker as costing a nickel, a contemporary newspaper accounts stated, “The Fare is as follows: From Bountiful to Salt Lake 15c, round trip 30c; with $2 commutation book 12c one way and 24c round trip; students 9c one way, 18c return.” All prices rose by a third for trips from Centerville at the opening of the trolley line. Costs fell by 1921 when The Utah Light and Traction Company advertised, “It costs approximately 20 cents per mile to own and operate an automobile. It costs about 1 cent per mile to ride a street car. You can take a family of 10 for an outing on the street cars for one-half the cost to run an automobile. Be wise and economize.” Further the company stated that a streetcar ride averaged four cents in 1916.
The Bountiful Streetcar: notice the cattle guard that boys infamously clung to in order to dodge fares. Courtesy of Davis County Clipper, Utah Digital Newspapers, J Willard Marriott Library.
Although a relatively cheap public service (a round trip service to Salt Lake in 1913 originally cost $6.27 in today’s dollars), certain groups committed hijinks attempting to ride for free. The Davis County Clipper recalls a particular anecdote with school boys. Young boys in Bountiful attempted to skate around the fare entirely by having one boy hail the streetcar at a stop and get on to pay, while his friends would latch onto the cowcatcher unseen and thus hitch a ride to wherever they needed to go for the price of one fare. Companies dealt with more headaches than just schoolboys looking to hitch a free ride though. As streetcar and trolley companies consolidated, transfer privileges became necessary. Typically, conductors stamped transfer tickets with the date, time, and direction to prevent use on a return trip. Salt Lake trolley companies moved in a much more artistic direction. Instead of having a date or time to punch, transfer tickets of the Salt Lake transportation companies came with the faces of five different men, progressing from clean-shaven to what was described then as “House of David” for those who were quite lush with hair, as well as two variants for female riders, although the significant difference was between a young girl wearing a sailor hat and an older woman wearing a sort of bonnet. Conductors then punched out the closest match to the rider. No longer could young men with mutton chops run to the barbershop and come out clean shaven for the ride home, his ticket had already been punched! Despite this supposedly foolproof plan to prevent multiple riders using the same ticket, pushback from older women who resented their selection as “older” and dismal enforcement of slips forced the abandonment of transfer tickets.
Cheap travel costs for riding the streetcar were unfortunately not enough. Ultimately, the demise of streetcars in Bountiful came because of the rise of rear-engine bus service. A short-article highlighting the features of an “automobile street car” appeared in the Davis County Clipper in mid-1921. The article touted the bus’s thirty-five passenger capacity, similar to that of a contemporary streetcar, as well as its most remarkable feature, a “‘gasoline-driven’ interurban car.” Besides competitions from buses, private automobiles became affordable commodities for average-income citizens creating an increased demand for paved roads–roads that would have to be built over existing trolley lines across Salt Lake County and adjacent counties. The rival Bamberger train route, which ran from Salt Lake City to Ogden, also increased competition for passenger fares. The Utah Light and Traction Company formally petitioned to close the line from the northern boundary of Salt Lake City on 27 January, 1926. The petition came after the Bamberger Electric Railroad Company petitioned for a bus-line between Salt Lake and Ogden that ran almost parallel to the streetcar route, apparently never deviating more than a quarter-mile from one another. The petition reported that income received from
the streetcar line to Davis County was far under the cost of operation and that the Utah Light and Traction Company needed to pay for twenty-thousand dollars (just over $287,000 today) to maintain the trolley-line, money that the company did not have. Streetcar service thus ended in Bountiful in 1926 and almost fifteen years later Salt Lake’s last trolley ran the tracks on May 31, 1941.
Ultimately, the advent of buses, private automobiles, and competition between transportation companies led to the demise of streetcar service in Bountiful and eventually Salt Lake County itself. Today, the building where the Bountiful route’s power station was located is at 480 South Orchard Drive. The only reference that there ever was a streetcar line operating from the building is a small marker on the building’s eastern facade. The building now houses a dental office and other small businesses, with the historical marker as the sole reminder of a time when electric trolley companies dominated public transportation and automobiles were a luxury only the wealthy could afford.
The building that housed the powerstation today. Located at 480 S. Orchard Drive in Bountiful. The Bountiful Area Historical Society Marker is seen just to the right of the planted flag. Photograph by Christopher Bird, January 25, 2020.
This monument is dedicated to Carbon County’s proud immigrant heritage. In the early part of this century, Thirty Two nationalities lived in Carbon County. Most of them came here to mine the coal. Carbon County is Utah’s melting pot. Because of its polyglot population, refined and tempered in the melting process, the religious, social, and cultural life of Carbon County has a broader, more tolerant, cosmopolitan type of lifestyle that sets it apart from the rest of Utah. These immigrants, together with the Native Americans, have left their imprint as part of this rough, often cruel, yet proud heritage.
“The Biggest Little City on
In the fall of 1914,
contractors working for Italian immigrants Charles Bonomo and Frank Viglia broke
ground on a large, two-story building on Main Street in Price, Utah. Large enough for their own
grocery store and several tenants, the Viglia-Bonomo building symbolized a
tangible and permanent presence for the former miners. For Charles, who spent his
first thirteen years in America in the shallow, back-breaking coal fields of
Kankakee, Illinois, it must have been satisfying to see another man swinging a
shovel instead of him.
Near an Italian bakery, a Greek saloon, a Russian mercantile, and a French farm store, the Viglia-Bonomo building was home to a multitude of religious, ethnic, and national identities that earned Price the title of “the biggest little city on earth.” Called “Utah’s Ellis Island” by historian Philip F. Notarianni, Carbon County was the gathering point for not just the Bonomo and Viglia families, but the gateway through which thirty-two different nationalities entered. A jewel of diversity amidst the largely homogeneous landscape of Utah’s pioneer settlements, Carbon County’s distinct immigrant identity reveals a history that is both exemplary and cautionary. The experiences of the Viglia and Bonomo families are illustrative of both the trials and triumphs experienced by immigrants of Carbon County in the early 20th century; their photos and records—generously provided by the descendants of Charles Bonomo—will be shared in this essay.
The First Immigrants
In 1882, rail workers searching
for a route from Denver to Salt Lake City discovered coal in what is now Carbon
County, transforming the sparsely-settled Price river from a scenic canyon into
a worldwide labor destination. Immigrants, eager to fill the demand for cheap
mine labor, poured in from Europe, Scandinavia, and Asia. By 1900 Castle Gate
became a floodgate, with immigrants from fourteen countries laboring in coal
camps in Winter Quarters, Castle Gate, Sunnyside, and Clear Creek.
Bound together by cultural, social, and economic ties, immigrants initially lived and worked in communities that reflected their countries of origin. Slovenians initially arrived as railroad workers, then switched to coal mining to fill in the labor gap. South Slavs moved to Helper to grow their business ventures, and Finnish immigrants settled Pleasant Valley in the 1890s to work the mines in Winter Quarters and Clear Creek. At the same time, Northern Italians worked the Castle Gate mine, after which the Greeks immigrated in 1904 to replace the striking Italians. French from the Hautes-Alpes and Pyrenees prospered as sheep and goat herders. Japanese laborers, who initially arrived to work the railroads, also found success as coal miners and farmers.
The earliest of Carbon County’s mining immigrants were most vulnerable to poverty, discrimination, and poor working conditions. Language and cultural barriers inhibited immigrants from effectively advocating for improved conditions and fair labor practice. Desperate for shelter, some miners converted rail cars into homes and built hastily constructed enclosures made of tar and paper. Italians lived in “Rag Town,” a tent community in Sunnyside, and until 1915, most mining camps lacked water and electricity.
Most early immigrants to Carbon County arrived as recruits of labor agents seeking workers within their home countries. Many families of these first immigrants eventually followed, creating a ragged chain of relocation that spanned many years. Other paths to Carbon County, like those of Charles Bonomo and Greek immigrant Yoryis Zisimopoulos, took a more circuitous route. Their paths convey the often fluid, transient nature of immigrant life that many experienced before finally calling Carbon County their home.
“Pleased with Price”
When the coal seam in Kankakee, Illinois ran out in 1900, Charles migrated west to the mines in Las Animas County, Colorado, where he married Trinidad resident Margaret Corigliano. Over the ensuing years, Charles abandoned mining and entered the saloon business in Rock Springs, Wyoming where his mother and siblings immigrated. In 1908, Margaret separated from Charles and moved to Price, Utah. Charles, now the owner of a successful saloon on Front Street, sought further investments and like many in the intermountain region, he had his eye on Price, Utah.
In early 1914, two Italian
businessmen drove from Rock Springs to Price, Utah on an entrepreneurial
mission. Price residents and
first-generation Italian merchants Frank Grosso and Frank Viglia hosted the
visitors, and procured the help of Lars Anderson, a local contractor, to
chauffeur the visitors around Price. The businessmen returned to Rock Springs
with favorable reports, and a short time later, Charles Bonomo moved to Price
and established a partnership with Frank Viglia, a relative through marriage
and a former resident of Rock Springs. With his move to Price, Charles was also
reunified with his wife and daughter Mary. It was a triumphant, if not tenuous,
The story of Greek
immigrant Yoryis Zisimopoulos is likewise a series of dead ends and new
beginnings. After unknowingly taking a
job as a strikebreaker in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, he quit and moved to
Oklahoma City, then to Pueblo to work for Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. After
several miners were killed, and with more Italians, Greeks, and Slavs ready to
take their place, Yoryis, now calling himself George Zeese, crisscrossed the
nation over the next several years working in mines, farms, railroads and coffeehouses.
Suffering from corrupt labor agents, lack of work, and bad luck, he had yet to
find lasting success. Ten years and fifteen jobs later, he finally found a home
for his wife and growing family in Helper, Utah, where he and his business
partner purchased the first of eleven Success Markets. Carbon County, at last,
was the right place.
The paths of immigrants like Charles Bonomo and Yoryis Zisimopoulos suggest the interconnected nature of the broader intermountain region that relied heavily on family and social networks. Many immigrants entered Carbon County not as fresh-faced coal miners, but as seasoned entrepreneurs who opened restaurants, purchased property, or managed stores. As Elliott Barkan suggests, “the fact that many persons were migrating not only from outside the region but also crisscrossing and resettling within the West suggest that such persons could well have established bonds that threaded the different parts of the region together, along with the many economic connections that were materializing.”
For enterprising immigrants
in Carbon County, family and social ties were vital in generating opportunities
for collaboration and business partnerships. Postcards from Hiawatha, cards
from New Mexico, and photos from Trinidad and Rock Springs that survive from
the Bonomo family give evidence of strong immigrant family networks of which
Carbon County was a part.
Identity and Integration
Beyond family ties,
immigrants in Carbon County found strength and unity in forming fraternal
organizations, labor unions, bands, and sports teams that identified with their
home countries. These groups functioned to foster national pride, ensure
security, and ensure cultural maintenance. Gathering places like
coffeehouses, restaurants, pool houses, saloons, and saunas, strengthened
social ties both within and beyond their national identities. The relocation of
religion to houses of worship was especially vital to the Italian and Greek
communities in reestablishing ritual as a public, communal event.
While language barriers
confined many immigrants to their own neighborhoods, school, social events, and
even funerals encouraged intermingling beyond their immediate communities. Some
immigrant children attended Mormon Primary classes despite their religion or
nationality, while other immigrant adults preferred the familiarity of their
own religions. Most mining camps welcomed regular visits from Catholic and
Greek priests who performed ad hoc mass services in amusement halls. Castle
Gate built their own Catholic church and Sunnyside welcomed a Catholic mission.
Despite these advances,
mining work—and the society that came with it—often undercut immigrants’
ability to be recognized as first-class citizens. Long-time residents were
concerned about the outflow of money
to foreign countries, and the foreign influences that were flowing in. While
many were welcomed, many residents resented the instability that the labor
agents and mine owners generated.
Mine owners themselves
contributed to this tension by showing a preference for unorganized, uneducated
labor and willingness to exploit nationalities and regions against one another.
With the help of private employment agencies or independent labor contractors,
a steady stream of cheap, unorganized migrant labor could always be ensured. As
Frank Van Nuys explains, “agents [were not] averse to exploiting inter- and
intraethnic antagonisms on behalf of management, for instance when a labor
contractor imported mainland Greeks to break a Carbon County, Utah copper
strike led by islanders from Crete in 1912. The influx of different groups, in
Utah for example, frequently began with strike-breaking: Finns, Italians, and
Slavs for English, Welsh, Irish, and Americans in the 1890s, Greeks for the
Italians and Yugoslavians in 1903, and Mexicans for the Greeks in 1922.” For many immigrants like
Charles Bonomo and George Zeese, the answer was to leave mining behind and
integrate themselves into the business community.
The Grocer Next Door
The respect and acceptance
Carbon County immigrants could not obtain through coal became achievable with
brick and mortar. The arrival of women to establish households, the growth of
second-generation immigrants, and the abandonment of mine labor all contributed
to greater integration of immigrants within their communities. The town of
Helper was especially welcoming to immigrant merchants. In 1903, the Helper
Gazetteer listed five foreign merchants, but by 1919, that number had grown to
thirty-five—over half of all businesses listed. Compelled to engage with
all residents of Carbon County through business transactions, immigrants
transformed from the temporary foreign worker to the grocer next door.
Not every business was
welcome, however. The same year Charles Bonomo moved to Price, E.A. Horsley,
President of the Carbon County Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints decried the influence of saloons in Helper and Price, saying,
“I saw men [in Helper] on the Sabbath Day lying around in a drunken
condition…Conditions in Price may not be of the best, but in the language of
the street Helper ‘had us skinned seven blocks’ …So much unfavorable
notoriety has been published from this town that when I go into Salt Lake and
people ask me where I am from and I say Price, they exclaim, ‘Oh, for Lord’s
sake!’” In the end, Horsley was
not successful in convincing Carbon County to become “dry”.
Stuck between maintaining
cultural ties and adapting to their American environment, immigrants in Carbon
County struggled to identify and achieve what was becoming the moving target of
Americanism. As Philip Notorianni explains,
“The desire for cultural maintenance
was natural, but the realities of the new environment often produced irony in
the attempt. In trying to maintain and foster cultural ties, immigrants altered
or adapted to new conditions, customs, traditions, and beliefs; thus their
practices were assuming new meaning and form. Gradual change occurred as
immigrants came into contact with American institutions and ideas, but those
who favored 100 percent “Americanization” of the new immigrants sought to
expedite the process by the abrupt stripping away of cultural differences.”
The Greeks and Italians were especially nationalistic and saw themselves as emissaries of their native culture. Mark I. Choate explains the nature of Italian emigration as an expansion of Italy itself: “For the Italian state, emigration represented not just physical movement beyond the Italian peninsula, but a cultural and economic enlargement of Italy worldwide….At the high point of Italian migration from 1880 to World War I, the Italian state viewed migration as a form of colonialism…”. This competing nationalism suggests that the Italians not only wanted to become American, they sought to make America more Italian. With each passing generation, however, immigrant families inevitably adapted while their native identities diminished over time.
Through the lens of clothing and aesthetics, the following photos from the Viglia Bonomo Papers suggest a hybrid of both Italian and American identities.
The Price Boys
Despite significant strides by many immigrants in Carbon County, many still received criticism for not being “American” enough. The advent of World War I further amplified this rhetoric as concerns over loyalty emerged. By 1917, the move toward Americanization merged with the war effort, amplifying expectations that immigrants should display their loyalty to America through war service. As nativist sentiment grew across America, the pressure of war emphasized the responsibility of the foreign-born to do all of the melting in the melting pot.
Immigrant enlistment in World War I was one avenue that instantly silenced calls for immigrant Americanization. Brothers Sam and Alex Viglia were among many Carbon County residents to enlist, earning them credibility and admiration among Price’s citizens. Carbon County newspapers gave updates on their war service, including family members in Price who shared postcards and letters with the local papers.
Following World War I,
nativist sentiment increased dramatically, resulting in a more restrictive
immigration policy, mandated “Americanization” classes, and greater hostility
toward minority groups—especially southern European immigrants. For many
immigrants of Carbon County, it was a time of contingency. By the 1920’s
Charles Bonomo was a successful merchant and real estate investor. His family
chose to remain in Price. Following some legal challenges related to the
Viglia-Bonomo building, Frank Viglia and his family moved to San Francisco in
1924. Two of Frank’s brothers returned to Italy, married, and raised families.
Another branch of the Viglia family moved to Mexico to escape the
discrimination they faced in the New Mexico mines.
Charles Bonomo’s path to
Carbon County was not a simple one: the
currents that guided him to settle in Price were a mix of family dynamics,
economic opportunity geography, and connectedness to their Italian relations
and friends. His story—like stories of most Carbon County immigrants—has
elements both unique and typical to the immigrant experience. In the end, Carbon
County largely embraced immigrants like Charles and gave space to the complex
and diverse identities that exist today. Historian Sarka B. Hrbkova
acknowledges this complexity, writing, “It is indeed a problem to make
Americans of these surging, ebbing, responsive, sullen, singing, cursing,
sorrowing, carousing, harmonious, disputatious elements, some coming from lands
of liberal thought, others from age-old autocracies—all of them with dreams of
a more or less realizable Utopia, which the magic word ‘America’ spells to
them.” The tolerant and
progressive nature found in Carbon County was that sort of Utopia for many, setting
it apart from the rest of Utah in its broad embrace of what it means to be a
 The Carbon County News, “City and County,” November 11, 1914.
 Carbon County News,
“Why You Should Invest Your Money in and Live in Price, Utah” November 11 1913,
8. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31020374. The phrase “biggest little city on the earth”
began to appear in Carbon County newspapers in 1913, and was added to the
masthead of the Eastern Utah Advocate on 3 July 1913 when the newspaper came
under new ownership.
 Philip F. Notarianni, “Utah’s Ellis Island: The
Difficult Americanization of Carbon County,” Utah Historical Quarterly
Vol 47, no. 2 (Spring 1979), 178-192.
 Carbon County News, “Our Reasons Why You Should Invest Your Money in and Live in Price,
Utah”. The article touts its progressive citizens, schools and religious
institutions, business savvy, and rich natural resources as reasons to invest
in Carbon County.
 Mark I. Choate, “The Frontier Thesis in Transnational
Migration: The U.S. West in the Making of Italy Abroad” in Immigrants of the
Far West: Historical Identities and Experiences, Ed. by Jessie L. Embry and
Brian Q. Cannon. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2015), 365.
private collection of Kay Cafarelli, loaned by Christina Micklesen, Salt Lake
City, Utah. Digital images hosted courtesy of Kindex at viglia.kindex.org.
Alexander, Thomas G. “From Dearth to Deluge, Utah’s Coal Industry,” Utah Historical Quarterly 31 (1963).
Bapis, Elaine M. “In the Hands of Women: Home Altar Tradition
in Utah’s Greek Orthodox Homes.” Utah Historical
Quarterly 65 (1997): 312-34.
Barkan, Elliot. From All Points:
America’s Immigrant West, 1870s–1952. Bloomington: University of Indiana
Carbon County Commission Company. “Our Reasons Why You Should Invest Your
Money in and Live in Price, Utah.” Carbon
County News. November 11 1913. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31020374.
Choate, Mark I. “The Frontier Thesis in Transnational Migration: The U.S.
West in the Making of Italy Abroad” in Immigrants
of the Far West: Historical Identities and Experiences, edited by Jessie L.
Embry and Brian Q. Cannon. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2015.
“City and County.” The Carbon
County News. October 1 1914.
Eastern Utah Advocate. “President Horsley Wants Closed Town.”
Newspapers.com. March 12 1914. Accessed April 26, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/30976950/eastern_utah_advocate.
Guglielmo, Thomas A. White on
Arrival: Italians, Race, Color, and Power in Chicago, 1890-1945. New York: Oxford
University Press, 2004.
Notarianni. Philip F. “Italianita in Utah: The Immigrant Experience,” in
Helen Papanikolas, The Peoples of Utah,
Salt Lake City, UT: Utah State Historical Society, 1976.
Notarianni, Philip F. “Utah’s Ellis Island: The Difficult Americanization
of Carbon County.” Utah Historical
Quarterly, Winter 1979.
Orsi, Robert Anthony. The Madonna
of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880-1950. New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1985.
“Pleased with Price.” The Carbon
County News. April 9 1914.
Van Nuys, Frank. Americanizing the
West: Race, Immigrants, and Citizenship, 1890-1930. Lawrence: University
Press of Kansas, 2002.
Vecali, Rudolph J. “European Americans: From Immigrants to
Ethnics,” in William H. Cartwright and Richard L. Watson, Jr., eds., The Reinterpretation of American History and
Culture. Washington, D.C: National Council for the Social Studies, 1973.
Watt, Ronald G. A History of Carbon County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1997.
“PATRICK EDWARD CONNER BRIGADIER GENERAL AND BREVET MAJOR GENERAL UNITED STATES VOLUNTEERS 1820-1891
Born in County Kerry, Ireland. Emigrated as a child to the United States. Enlisted in the army at age 19. Attained rank of Captain in the Mexican War. As Colonel, commanding the Volunteers, established Camp Douglas on Oct. 26, 1862. A soldier-statesman of great energy and vision, he was the “father of Utah mining”, published the first daily newspaper in Utah Territory, and founded Stockton, Utah. * * * * This park presented to the United States Army by the Fort Douglas Museum Association on the 124th Anniversary of the founding of Fort Douglas. Oct 26, 1986.”
Aside from Brigham Young, perhaps no individual played a larger role in shaping nineteenth century Utah than Patrick Connor. Indeed, prominent Utah historian Dean May has hailed these men as the two founding fathers of modern Utah. Today, Connor’s statue in Fort Douglas quietly rivals Young’s much grander memorialization across Salt Lake in Temple Square – a silent reenactment of what was in its day a bitter public rivalry between these two men and their competing visions. Young sought to establish Utah as the Kingdom of God on Earth according to the unique sensibilities of the LDS Church. Connor, meanwhile, aimed to bring Utah into the American mainstream by conquering the land’s indigenous peoples and opening the door for white settlers like himself, looking to make their fortunes out West. Intensely distrustful of Utah’s Mormon population, Connor was himself an immigrant who, having undergone a process of Americanization, now sought to “Americanize” Utah along the same lines as the rest of the West. Portrayed as everything from hero to murderous plunderer, Connor has been sweepingly characterized as “the archetypal nineteenth century man”, who was “representative of all that was good and bad in that age.”
The man who would come to identify himself as P. Edward Connor was born Patrick Edward (“Paddy”) O’Connor in County Kerry, Ireland. Very little information exists on Connor’s early life; he claimed to have been born on St. Patrick’s Day, 1820. Economic stagnation in Ireland drove his family to emigrate to New York when he was perhaps sixteen. Connor spent several years working odd jobs as a laborer before beginning his military career by volunteering for the First Dragoons in 1839. It is possible the young Irishman viewed military service as a useful means to “Americanize” himself in an era animated by nativism and anti-Catholicism.
Connor’s five year tour with the Dragoons took him to the lands in and around the newly-created Iowa Territory to maintain relations with the region’s native peoples. This fledgling military presence in the trans-Mississippi West, with the US fresh off the Jacksonian ethnic cleansing of native peoples in the East, would foreshadow atrocious military violence against the indigenous peoples of the West during and after the Civil War, in which Connor himself was to play a leading role.
While relatively uneventful, Connor’s tour with the Dragoons gave him valuable experience as a soldier. More importantly, he appeared to become enamored with the West, where he would spend almost all of the remainder of his life. Following the end of his tour of duty, he returned to New York for several years, engaging in “mercantile business” and becoming a naturalized citizen (a process no doubt made easier by his military record). Also around this time, he removed some of the conspicuous Irish-ness from his name by dropping the O’ in his surname and shortening Patrick to an initial, becoming P. Edward Connor. With the outbreak of war with Mexico in 1846, Connor headed west again, joining a company of Texas Volunteers. He participated in the US victory at the Battle of Buena Vista, receiving praise for his bravery.
Connor ca. 1860s
The war resulted in the US seizure of a vast swath of land claimed by Mexico. Connor was among many who viewed these lands as a place to make it big, travelling to California in 1850 on the heels of the Gold Rush. After an ill-fated attempt to establish a community on the Trinity River, he settled in Stockton. Over the next decade, his numerous entrepreneurial ventures, particularly a gravel quarry on his property, resulted in Connor accumulating a degree of wealth. He emerged as a leading citizen of Stockton and came to head its militia, the Stockton Blues. In 1854, he married Johanna Connor, another emigrant from Kerry County. The couple would raise five children to adulthood, enduring the loss of two sons who died in childhood.
This relatively peaceful period of Connor’s life came to an end in 1861 with the outbreak of the Civil War. Eager to serve his adopted country once more, he took the lead in recruiting several companies of California Volunteers to serve under his command. In spite of his (and his troops’) desire to fight the Confederacy in the East, he found himself assigned to protect overland mail routes in Utah, as the Lincoln administration sought to preserve California’s tenuous connection to the Union. In Utah, Connor’s troops were to serve as an occupying force to both native peoples such as the Shoshone and to the territory’s Mormon population, practitioners of an enigmatic and fanatical religion in the eyes of many, whose loyalty to the country seemed particularly dubious, particularly in light of the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre.
During the journey across Nevada, Connor began to hone his reputation as an Indian fighter, launching attacks that killed several dozen Shoshones. Reaching Salt Lake City in 1862, Connor remarked with disgust on the apparent un-Americanness of the Mormons, calling them “a community of traitors, murderers, fanatics, and whores,” claiming “the people publicly rejoice at reverses to our arms,” and “Brigham Young rules with despotic sway.” For their part, the Mormons had good reason to fear federal troops due to the “Utah War” of 1856-58. As such, they were none too happy when Connor, despairing of the state of the old Camp Crittenden (Camp Floyd) in Utah Valley, planted his troops directly above their capital, establishing Camp Douglas on an eastern bench of the Salt Lake Valley on October 26, 1862. Connor cited this new location as all the better to “say to the Saints of Utah, enough of your treason.” Connor’s troops thus became the most visible symbol of “Gentile” (non-Mormon) presence in the territory, sparking a war of words between the two groups lasting for decades.
Camp Douglas (later Fort Douglas) ca. 1865. Connor named the fort for Lincoln’s great political rival, Stephen Douglas.
The year 1863 was a critical one for Connor. Denied the chance to fight in the East, he seized on a chance to “chastise” the Northwestern Shoshone instead. Increased Anglo-American incursions into what is today southern Idaho had strained relationships with the Shoshone, producing intermittent fighting and claims of kidnapping. In the bitter cold of January, Connor marched his troops from Camp Douglas to a Shoshone encampment on the Bear River. One California newspaper offered a telling insight into the attitudes of the day by publishing a gleeful letter from a Salt Lake correspondent, stating that “before [Connor’s troops] quit the entertainment Mr. Redskin is to be well thrashed, and, if possible, ‘wiped out.’”
Arriving at the encampment, Connor’s troops launched an attack on the 29th of January. What began as a battle became a bloodbath as Connor’s troops flanked the Shoshones, trapping them in a ravine. The troops proceeded to massacre anyone within reach, including women and children. The death toll may well have exceeded four hundred, making it the largest massacre in the history of the American West. Connor’s troops destroyed homes and food supplies, murdering dozens more women who refused to submit to rape by the soldiers. His actions would make him one of the most despised figures in Shoshone memory, with one survivor, Sagwitch, later recalling the bitter irony of “that merciless battle, when women and suckling babes met their death at the hands of civilization.” Those same actions, however, made Connor a hero to white colonizers in the West, and earned him a promotion to brigadier-general.
Bear River Massacre site.
Back in Salt Lake, Connor became fixated on the notion of publicizing Utah’s mineral wealth so as to draw non-Mormons into the territory, contending that “inducements … to the teeming population of the East and West, seeking new fields of exploration and prosperity” would spell political and social doom for the Mormonism that he saw as “not only subversive of morals, in conflict with the civilization of the present age, and oppressive on the people, but also deeply and boldly in contravention of the laws and best interests of the nation.” To that end, he founded the Daily Union Vedette, a staunchly non-Mormon newspaper that wrote extensively on the wealth to be had in Utah. Connor helped to establish and personally invested in numerous mining districts, including what would become Bingham Canyon, earning the honorific “father of Utah mining.” In 1863, Connor also established the town of Stockton, near Tooele, named for his former home in California. Connor intended Stockton as a hub for non-Mormon settlement, though his grand visions could never elevate it beyond a minor settlement on the fringes of Brigham Young’s Mormon kingdom. Of course, Young and his disciples were none too happy to see these capitalistic incursions into their Zion. After Young petitioned unsuccessfully to have Connor and his troops removed from Utah, he was spared of the general for a time when Connor was sent to present Wyoming for the Powder River expedition in 1865.
Connor thus departed Utah to crush resistance from the Cheyenne, Sioux, and Arapaho in response to a mining boom that had drawn a wave of white colonizers into Montana. While Connor’s campaigns failed to win any “victories” as decisive as that at Bear River, he nonetheless killed several hundred indigenous persons in a series of battles and skirmishes such as Tongue River (at times fighting alongside indigenous allies such as the Omaha). Such militancy undermined the capacity of indigenous communities to sustain themselves, leaving little recourse to federal economic dependency and reservations (with poverty ironically reinforcing white perceptions of indigenous nations as primitive and backwards). The Powder River endeavor was largely regarded as a failure, in part due to negative publicity surrounding another event to the south: namely, the army’s 1864 Sand Creek Massacre against the Cheyenne and Arapaho, which had soured the nation for a time on war with native nations. Reflecting this shift in attitude, the Salt Lake Tribune expressed desire for “some sensible plan” regarding “the poor Indian race.”Nonetheless, the expedition cemented Connor’s status as to hero to white colonizers in the West. This would be Connor’s last major military mission, as he resigned his commission in 1866.
After a brief return to Utah (and a trip to Washington DC to testify against the evils of the Mormons), Connor returned to California with his family. By 1869, however, the looming completion of the transcontinental railroad brought him back to Utah. This time, his family stayed in California, establishing a permanent residence in Redwood City. Over the next decades, Connor would become increasingly estranged from his family as he bounced between various mining and railroad endeavors in Utah and Nevada in largely unsuccessful attempts to amass his fortune, made all the more difficult by the market instabilities laid bare in the Panic of 1873. Johanna Connor would eventually die in 1889, making no mention of her oft-absent husband in her will.
In Utah, the railroad spelled doom for Brigham Young’s bucolic conception of an economically isolated Zion. Anticipating an economic and demographic influx to the territory, Connor took an interest in the town of Corinne, near the mouth of the Bear River, which emerged in the wake of the railroad’s completion as Utah’s leading non-Mormon community. His assessment of this emerging landscape proved somewhat overly optimistic, with his vision of a steamboat service across the Great Salt Lake connecting Corinne to Stockton never truly materializing. As the most esteemed non-Mormon in the territory, Connor became the symbolic leader of Utah’s anti-Mormon Liberal Party, which denounced polygamy and sought to block statehood for fear of losing federal leverage against the dominant religion. Speaking at an 1880 Liberal rally, Connor declared his intention of “taking up the fight with renewed vigor,” and “helping forward the good work of regulating and Americanizing Utah.” This symbolic leadership notwithstanding, Connor proved unsuccessful in parlaying his notoriety into political office, losing a bid even for the modest office of Salt Lake County Recorder. He died in Salt Lake in 1891 with much prestige and little wealth, and was buried in the Fort Douglas Cemetery.
Connor with President Hayes during the latter’s visit to Fort Douglas, 1880.
The decades after his death saw Patrick Connor’s vision of an Americanized Utah come to fruition to a remarkable degree. Booming mining industries throughout the new state in regions such as Carbon County and Bingham Canyon attracted waves of non-Mormon immigration from countries including Greece and Italy, and, to a lesser extent, Japan and China. Mining in particular signified Utah’s increasing integration into the national economy; while providing economic opportunity, this new colonial economy also spawned appalling working conditions and environmental degradation. Connor would no doubt also have been pleased to see the LDS church, the object of his perpetual contempt, take a firmer stance against polygamy and recede from the political sphere in the first decades of the twentieth century (though the latter change did not prove permanent). Furthermore, the twentieth century also saw emphasis on Brigham Young’s model of economic cooperation decline as many Mormons made their peace with Connor’s capitalist vision. Indeed, while not abandoning their distinct identities, Mormon communities have undergone a noteworthy degree of Americanization since Connor’s time. Connor himself practiced what he preached with regards to Americanization: the Irish-born immigrant epitomized the self-made man of fame and fortune. While this rugged, romantic image has become iconic in conceptions of the West, Connor’s case also illustrates its shortcomings. Never truly successful in making his fortune later in life, his obsessive quest for wealth resulted in considerable alienation from his family. Underpinning all of this is Connor’s darkest legacy (and one that is conspicuously absent from his historical marker): the brutalization of indigenous nations, on whose dispossessed land the processes of “Americanization” played out. Particularly for the Northwestern Shoshones, the impacts and bitter memories of Colonel Connor’s atrocious actions on the Bear River echo into the twenty-first century.
Placed by the Hibernian Society of Utah on March 17, 1996 dedicated May 10, 1996
The GPS Coordinates: 41°37’03.6″N 112°33’03.0″W
Historical Marker Text: To the Irish who toiled on the Transcontinental Railroad uniting our nation
In 1862 Congress passed the Pacific Railroad Act providing federal land and funding for the building of a transcontinental railroad from Omaha, Nebraska to Sacramento, California. The project was an engineering feat never seen before. Construction began in 1863 and it was completed on May 10, 1869 at Promontory Point, Utah. The excitement to build a transcontinental railroad created a competition between two railroad companies. The Central Pacific Railroad built East from Sacramento, and the Union Pacific Railroad built West from Omaha, eventually meeting in Utah Territory. Upon completion, travel time across the country dropped to only seven days, a significant reduction from the four to five months it took via wagons. The transcontinental railroad also sped trade, communication, and helped to unite the nation. The building of the first transcontinental railroad required 6 years to complete and thirty-thousand workers who were primarily immigrants. Without the hard work and sacrifice of both Chinese and Irish immigrants the historic completion of the transcontinental railroad would not have been possible.
The Union Pacific Railroad company employed mainly Irish immigrants who were unmarried veterans of the Civil War, both Confederate and Union, who sought opportunity and work. The work was challenging and it consisted of digging, grading, and track laying across the Great Plains for long hours at a time through challenging conditions. The style of labor was very military like with project managers cursing and barking out orders which workers were expected to obey like soldiers. Workers were paid three dollars a day with food and lodging provided. They worked from sun up to sundown with only three breaks a day for meals, which included large breakfast and lunch portions and smaller dinner portions. Harsh winter storms, Indian raids on worker camps and lack of supplies such as firewood made track laying difficult and slow. The Irish workers also suffered dysentery which was a constant problem because they frequently drank impure water from springs or lakes. They were expected to lay two to three miles of track a day.
Irish immigrants faced discrimination and were sometimes viewed as dirty drunks who were not afraid to go on strike. Even still the railroad companies relied on their labor and they were valued as hard workers on the railroad and good track layers. As they approached the meeting of the rails in 1869 the Central Pacific workers were able to lay ten miles of track in a single day with the help of eight Irish immigrants. It was a feat and record never seen before. After the work on the transcontinental railroad was complete many of the Irish immigrants continued to work for the railroad or found mining jobs throughout the West. This marker honors their contribution in uniting the nation as well as their work and sacrifice.
 Congress of the United States, The Pacific Railroad Act, (Washington D.C. 1862) https://www.ourdocuments.gov/document_data/pdf/doc_032.pdf
 Stephen E. Ambrose, Nothing like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, 1863-1869 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000), 17.
 Ryan Dearinger, The Filth of Progress (Oakland: University of California Press, 2015).
Written by Benjamin Kiser, MA History Student, University of Utah
Placed By: Daughters of Utah Pioneers Tooele County Company
GPS Coordinates: 40°42’57.0″N 112°14’21.9″W
Historical Marker Text:
Garfield and Lake Point Resorts Marker
DAUGHTERS OF UTAH PIONEERS No. 115
GARFIELD & LAKE POINT RESORTS
From 1881 to 1893 Garfield Beach was the most famous and finest recreation resort on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, with its railroad station, lunch stand, restaurant, bath houses and pier leading to the dance pavilion, and with the pioneer steamboat “City of Corinne” exhibited at anchor. Lake Point was located 1 miles west. A three story hotel erected there by Dr. Jeter Clinton became a stopping place for overland stages. The boulder used for this shaft was taken from “Old Buffalo Ranch” one half mile west.
Marker with Great Salt Lake on Right, I-80 and Oquirrh Mountains on Left
From the beginning of Euro-American settlement in Utah, Utahns have enjoyed recreation. Before the rise of Wasatch Mountain ski resorts, hiking, and biking trails, residents turned to the Great Salt Lake for their recreational pursuits. The late 1800s were the heyday of Great Salt Lake resorts. Two of the earliest resorts were at Garfield Beach and Lake Point. Dr. Jeter F. Clinton, Mormon physician and Salt Lake City alderman turned resort promoter, founded Lake Point resort, also known as Clinton’s Landing, in 1870, building a large “Lake House” near the beach at the northwest point of the Oquirrh Mountains. The resort remained small until 1875 when the Utah Western railroad completed a branch out to the area. Expansion began leading to the construction of a multitude of bathhouses along the beach. Bathers came to Lake Point to experience the Great Salt Lake’s saline water, described by one local booster as “so buoyant; never chilling, it is so warm, free from danger, recreating and invigorating, a tonic for all, a healing for many ills, health restoring and strength renewing.” Lake Point was also a hub for the renowned steamboat “City of Corinne” which would transport passengers across the lake to Corinne, a railroad town on the Bear River. Eventually, Black Rock and Garfield Resorts would eclipse Lake Point in grandeur and visitation.
Lake Point Illustration from the Great Salt Lake Courtesy Utah State Historical Society
Lake Point also served as a backdrop to an interesting incidence in the Utah Territory. A breakaway from Mormonism, a group called the Morrisites under leader Joseph Morris, formed in the early 1860s. Conflict quickly ensued between the dominant Mormon population and the newly formed sect. In 1862, the territorial militia was called out to subdue the Morrisites, ultimately leading to the death of Joseph Morris. A member of the Morrisite presidency, John Banks, was mortally wounded in the skirmish. Dr. Jeter Clinton attended to Banks but he ultimately succumbed to his injuries. Shortly after Banks’s death, some Morrisites began spreading rumors that Clinton killed Banks while tending to him. Authorities largely left the rumors unheeded until 1877 when they arrested Clinton at his Lake Point home, indicting him for the murder of John Banks. While ultimately exonerated of the crime, the Deseret News reported the 1877 case as an example of “shameful abuse” of a “prominent Mormon” in which “the bigotry, intolerance and persecuting spirit of our opponents…have been among the bitterest and most unprincipled.” Taken in the context of increased federal weakening of Mormon control over the territory through the 1874 Poland Act, the Clinton case provides a curious commentary on how Mormons perceived one instance of judicial persecution in the territory.
Garfield Beach Resort Pavilion and Bathers Courtesy Utah State Historical Society
Garfield Beach resort, located approximately 1.5 miles to the east of Lake Point, opened its doors in 1875, remaining the premier Great Salt Lake destination until the opening of Saltair in 1893. A product of the Utah Western Railway’s expansion into Tooele County, Garfield Beach wowed visitors with a 165 by 62 feet dance pavilion over the lake. The resort cost $70,000. Six trains a day serviced Garfield bringing 80,000 people to the beach in 1888. The “City of Corinne” docked at Garfield, as well, where it furnished steamboat rides on the lake for 25 cents. The great resort dwindled after Saltair’s opening, as it experienced a reduction in visitors and beach degradation due to the pesky nature of the Great Salt Lake’s fluctuating levels. Garfield Beach resort ultimately succumbed to a fire in 1904.
Garfield Beach Advertisement Courtesy Utah State Historical Society
A 2017 trip to the southern shores of the Great Salt Lake reveals a landscape greatly changed from the high point of lake recreation from the 1870s to the 1890s. An interstate highway runs where both resorts once stood. Little evidence remains of the great pavilions, lunch bars, railroad stations, and dance halls that were the highlight of a trip to Utah in the late nineteenth century. Though a reconstructed Saltair remains, the specters of Lake Point and Garfield are long gone, eclipsed in a recreational shift from the Great Salt Lake to the Wasatch Mountains.
Garfield Beach from the Foothills of the Oquirrh Mountains Courtesy Utah State Historical Society
 Jared Farmer, On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009).
 Dale L. Morgan, The Great Salt Lake (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1973 ), 355-356.
 Ovando James Hollister, The Resources and Attractions of the Territory of Utah (Omaha: Omaha Republican Publishing House, 1879), 66, accessed March 29, 2017, https://archive.org/details/resourcesattract00holl.
 Tooele County Daughters of Utah Pioneers, History of Utah’s Tooele County: From the Edge of the Great Basin Frontier (Tooele, UT: Transcript Bulletin Publishing, 2012), 177-179.
 Marcus E. Jones, Resources and Attractions of Salt Lake City (Salt Lake City: Salt Lake Real Estate Board, 1889), 46-48, accessed on March 29, 2017, https://archive.org/details/saltlakecity1889eng.
 Ouida Blanthorn, comp., A History of Tooele County (Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1998), 154-158.
For Further Reference:
Ovando James Hollister, The Resources and Attractions of the Territory of Utah (Omaha: Omaha Republican Publishing House, 1879), accessed March 29, 2017, https://archive.org/details/resourcesattract00holl.