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Published / by Kenny Son / Leave a Comment

Write-up by Ben Chin

Placed by: Sons of Utah Pioneers, June 1988

GPS coordinates: Latitude: 40.708513, Longitude: -111.801820

Historical Marker Text:

William Stuart Brighton was born in Lanarkshire, Scotland in 1829.  He married Catherine Bow (born in 1827 at Sterling, Scotland) in 1850.  He was baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1844.  They immigrated to Missouri in 1855 with two children, one of whom was buried at sea during the passage.  They came to Utah in 1857 by handcart company.  They had four sons born in the United States- Robert, William, Thomas, Daniel and Janet, born in Scotland.

In 1871 William S. Brighton claimed over 100 acres at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon.  William and Catherine built the first hotel there at “Brighton” in 1874.  It was razed in 1945.  Later they added cottages, the original Brighton store, a post office, a telephone service, a dairy service, freight haulage, a bakery and a sawmill.  Catherine Bow Brighton named the lakes around Brighton- “Mary” after her infant daughter, “Catherine” after herself, “Martha” after a friend, etc.  About 1887 the Brighton sons built the first telephone line through Brighton to Alta.  The world famous ski resort and area is now permanently called “Brighton” after this early family.

William Stuart Brighton died in 1895 and Catherine Bow in 1894.  They are buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Extended Research:

William Stuart Brighton originally immigrated from Liverpool to New Orleans before eventually making his way to Utah as part of the Israel Evans Company in 1857.[1] He kept a diary while on the voyage in which he describes some of the hardships and difficulties he and his family encountered, including the loss of his daughter, Mary. “Tuesday 19 Dec. 1854. Fine weather and a fair wind. My wife is again on deck with my assistance my children is still lying very bad this morning. The ordinance was administrated to my wife and children. The measles made their appearance on Mary this day and I was kept so busy attending my wife and children up to the 21 Dec. 1854 that I could not take an observation of our travels when at 1 o’clock on the 31st, my child, Mary departed this life…”[2] Aside from illness, Brighton and many others on the ship experienced food shortages to such an extent that nearly caused the captain to redirect course back to Liverpool.

When the ship finally did arrive in New Orleans on January 12th, 1855, Brighton and his family temporarily settled there before joining a group of Mormons pioneers to migrate westward to Utah. The Israel Evans company was the 6th handcart company that consisted of 149 individuals and 28 handcards. It started its journey at the outfitting post in Iowa City, Iowa on May 22nd-23rd, 1857. When the company made it to Utah on September 11th-12th of the same year, it was documented in the Deseret News: “Elder William Walker’s freight train was at Deer Creek on the 8th inst., and Elder Israel Evans’ hand-cart company would arrive there that evening. Elder Benjamin Ashby is with Elder Evans. There are 30 hand-carts, 2 teams and some 150 persons in the company; they are very lively and making good progress.”.[3]

Upon his initial entrance into the Utah territory, Brighton provided for his family by working temporary jobs such as driving teams, harvesting, and general labor. One of his early bosses, Daniel H. Wells, served as a connection for Brighton to construct a mill in Big Cottonwood Canyon, where he and his family eventually built a hotel and other businesses.[4]

William Stuart Brighton

When analyzing the life of William Stuart Brighton, it is apparent that his life is not unlike many of his peers during this period.  He, like most other Mormon pioneers, came to Utah territory because it suited his needs; the Brighton family could live among people who shared similar beliefs and values and it offered financial opportunity.  What sets Brighton apart from other pioneers and warrants a historical marker is the amount of area he claimed at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon and its subsequent development into a popular ski resort named in his honor.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Brighton, William S. “Diary of William Stuart Brighton.” Saints by Sea: Latter-Day Saint Immigration to America, January 12, 1855, 5–16.

“William Stuart Brighton.” Pioneer database. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Accessed February 2, 2020.

Secondary Sources:

Morris, Rod. “Salt Lake City Big Cottonwood Canyon and William Stuart Brighton.” Balsam Hill Cabin. Accessed February 2, 2020.

[1]The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  William Stuart Brighton, 2018-09-01,  (accessed 2020-02-25)

[2] Brighton, William S.  Diary of William Stuart Brighton, Saints By Sea: Latter Day Saint Immigration to American, 1854-12-19,  (accessed 2020-02-25)

[3] “Arrival and Latest News”, Deseret News, 19 August 1857,  (accessed 2020-02-25)

[4] Balsam Hill Cabin.  Salt Lake City: Big Cottonwood Canyon and William Stuart Brighton,

Devereaux House

Published / by Kenny Son / Leave a Comment

By: Kenny Son 

Place by: Salt Lake City Triad Center

Utah Coordinates: Latitude: 40.769949, Longitude: -111.901035

Historical Marker Text:

          “Devereaux House was Salt Lake City’s earliest mansion and in its day, the most elegant. As a unique mansion in an isolated frontier city, the Devereaux was the setting of many social gatherings that included prominent local citizens and important national and international visitors. Portions of the house date from 1855, only eight years after the first arrival of the Mormon pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley. Extensively added to and remodeled in the 1870’s, the Devereaux House estate featured the mansion, extensive ornamental gardens, a kitchen garden, hothouses, vineyards, orchards, stables, and a carriage house. Owner William Jennings was a patron of the arts and furnished the interior with items collected during trips throughout the United States and abroad. The coming of the railroad later turned this part of Salt Lake City into a commercial and industrial area, and for many years the mansion stood as a forlorn shell of its former glory. On March 1, 1971 the Devereaux House was listed on the National Register of Historic places and, in 1978, the Utah State Legislature purchased the property for future renovation. Three years later, the State and Triad Center entered into an agreement whereby Triad would maintain and manage the area once the buildings and grounds were restored.  With Federal, State, Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency, and private funds, the Devereaux house, Carriage House, and gardens have been reconstructed for the benefit of present and future Utahns.”

Extended Research: 

The Devereaux Mansion, located on 334 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah, was built for Utah Resident William Staines in the year 1857. The home is significant because it was the first mansion built in Utah Territory. It was the center of social gatherings in the valley for much of the nineteenth century.[1]

Architect William Paul’s first project in Salt Lake City was the Devereaux House, a Victorian style mansion with unique features. The outside of the home consisted of a masonry cement plaster wall reaching two stories high. The interior included many beautiful kinds of wood, such as mahogany. The home is two stories tall with a west wing intersecting north to south. Long time resident William Jennings added new features to the house, such as a sizeable east wing and several outbuildings. Decorations surrounding the home included floral gardens, orchards, and a greenhouse.[6] Gates were added around the perimeter of the house to make it private.[7]

Eventually, the house would go through several different owners. In 1865 Staines sold the home to Joseph A. Young who was the son of Brigham Young. Later, Young sold the house to William Jennings, a prominent businessman and future mayor of Salt Lake City.[4] Jennings is responsible for giving the home the name “Devereaux Mansion” in remembrance of his childhood home in England.

Jennings was born in Birmingham, England, and spent 26 years there before moving to the United States. He earned his education primarily in England. He first moved to New York, and later to Missouri where he entered the cattle business. He arrived in Utah in 1852, and established a textile mill. After spending time in the mill business, he slowly transitioned to banking. Specifically, he became a stockholder and later director of the Deseret National Bank. He later became vice-president and director, and then was influential in establishing the co-operative mercantile business recognized as Zion’s Co-operative Mercantile Institution.[2] Jennings was known in Utah as a pioneer industrial leader, Salt Lake mayor, and allegedly Utah’s first millionaire.[3] 

Jennings practiced polygamy and had two wives who both moved into the Devereaux home in 1867 to live with him. His wives Jane Walker and Pricilla Paul, both occupied the home at the same time until Pricilla passed away in 1871. Jane then took care of both her and Pricilla’s combined fifteen children.

Jennings was known to have many significant people stay in his home, such as William Seward, who was the U.S. Secretary of State. President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia Boggs Grant visited the house for several hours during their visit to Utah. Also, President Rutherford B. Hayes, with general William T. Sherman visited the home. After Jennings died in 1886, his family sold the house after living there for several years.[5]

During the great depression, the J. J. Coan family resided in the mansion for some time but it was eventually abandoned and fell into disrepair. Decades later, a group of civic and preservation minded organizations formed a committee in hopes of restoring the dilapidated mansion. The committee consisted of Junior League of Salt Lake City, the Utah Heritage Foundation, Salt Lake City Historic Buildings Advisory Committee, Women’s Architectural League, the Utah American Institute of Architects, the Board of State History, and the Utah State Historical Society.[8] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased the home in 2005 and uses it on occasion for receptions and other functions.


Primary Source: 

  1. “Deveraux House,” Utah National Register Collection, (March 1971),
  2. “In Memorium, William Jennings,” Multimedia Archives, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, accessed April 4, 2020,

Secondary Source: 

  1. Roberts, Allen D.  More of Utah’s Unknown Pioneer Architects: Their Lives and Works (Sunstone Magazine, 1976), 53,

[1] “Deveraux House,” Utah National Register Collection, (March 1971): 2,

[2] “In Memorium, William Jennings,” Multimedia Archives, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, accessed April 4, 2020,

[3] Allen D. Roberts, More of Utah’s Unknown Pioneer Architects: Their Lives and Works (Sunstone Magazine, 1976), 53,

[4] Devereaux House, Utah National, 2.

[5] Deveraux House, Utah National3. 

[6] Robert’s, More of Utah’s, 53.

[7] Devereaux House, Utah National, 2.

[8] Devereaux House, Utah National, 2.

Huntington Settlement

Published / by Chas Rafiti / Leave a Comment

Write-up by:  Chas Rafiti

Placed by:  The Daughters of Utah Pioneers, no. 105. 

GPS Coordinates:  

N 39°21’10.47” 

W 111°0’45.82” 

Historical Marker Text:  

In 1875 Leander Lemmon and James McHadden seeking a good range for their horses, found feed plentiful at the mouth of Huntington Canyon and vicinity. Mr. Lemmon brought sheep and cattle from Cottonwood, Salt Lake County. In the Autumn of 1876, he built the first log cabin on Huntington Creek, near this marker. An irrigation ditch was dug, taking water from the nearby creek. The town is situated on Huntington Creek, from which it receives its name. 

Extended Research: 

The history of Mormon colonization is generally separated into distinct phases.  In the first decade after Mormon arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, several important cities were founded to the North and South of Salt Lake City, such as Ogden (1848), Provo (1849), Parowan (1851), and Cedar City (1851).[1]  This north to south string of colonies provided the Mormon settlers with a solid base of control, along a route commonly referred to as the Mormon Corridor.  Many of these cities had become very important outposts for the Mormons. As the years passed, and as some of these southern settlements became prosperous and overpopulated, calls to venture east were made by the LDS Church hierarchy. Overpopulation had become a major problem for many Mormon settlements by the 1870’s, as a new generation of people had grown up in Utah.[2]  This issue, along with encouragement from the Church hierarchy in the early and mid 1870’s, led to the eventual colonization of Castle Valley, and therefore the city of Huntington among others.

The establishment of the first settlements near Huntington creek occurred in the 1870’s during the third decade, or phase, of Mormon colonization.  Different from the second phase, which was a result of the threat from the Federal Army under General Johnston in 1857, when colonists were called back from outlying areas such as San Bernardino and Carson Valley, the third phase saw a huge expansion of Mormon settlements all across the territory. This phase led to the development of ninety-three new colonies in Utah, including the Huntington settlement.[3]

The region where the town was eventually established had likely been named by the Huntington brothers, Dimick, Oliver, and William, who first explored the area in the 1850’s.[4]  However, it was not until 1875 when the first settlers of European descent arrived in the area. Four cattle herders, Bill Gentry, and Alfred Starr, as well as the two men referenced in the marker, James McHadden and Leander Lemmon, brought their herds to Huntington Creek in search of a place for their stock to graze and rest.  McHadden and Lemmon jointly developed the area along the creek, where the marker is placed. However, of these four men, only Leander Lemmon remained permanently to settle the town, his house likely becoming the first above ground building in the area, and still stands today.[5]  These men migrated across the La Sal Mountains, in Sanpete County, into the Huntington area, where they attempted to find new lands worthy of settlement. The prosperous towns of Sanpete County had become overpopulated and lacked available land and water, thus prompting their desire to seek new homes. Soon many other settlers made the same crossing, coming into Castle Valley in significant numbers in the late 1870’s. 

The original house of Leander Lemmon, built around 1901.

As Leander Lemmon built his house, dug irrigation ditches, and cared for his livestock, more families came into the area, largely from Sanpete County.  On August 22, 1877, Brigham Young issued a declaration to colonize and explore the areas of Castle Valley, including Huntington.[6]  This was in response to overpopulation in Sanpete County as well as an attempt to stake claims on available land before non-Mormon settlers could.  He sent an expedition from Sanpete County in 1877, led by Elias Cox to scout the region for arable land.[7]  This party would approve of the area and began construction on ditches and houses near the Lemmon homestead.  As this area opened up, more parties from Sanpete migrated to and settled the lands near Huntington Creek and Cottonwood Creek to the south, largely relying on agriculture and livestock. Initially, the settlement of the Huntington area was the result of one man, however only a few years later, entire families and other immigrants were entering the area and starting new lives. What began as Leander Lemmon’s need for land for his stock, led to a colony with a population of 126 by 1880, and eventually the city of Huntington.[8] 

Fast forward to the modern day and Huntington is the largest city in Emery County. In the decades after the initial settlement, coal mining and the railroad became the main industries of the area, while having significant agriculture and livestock production as well.[9] Although definitely small compared to larger and more well known cities in Utah, Huntington is important because it represents the late stages of Mormon colonization and this initial settlement helped spur the development of Castle Valley and the entirety of what would become Emery County. The creation of Huntington was a result of the successes of other cities throughout Utah, as more people emigrated to this area in search of unused land. This is an important area in Utah history because it was one of the last areas to be developed by colonists, and is a piece of the timeline of Mormon settlement. To this day the marker for the initial camp and the house of Leander Lemmon still stand, and Huntington remains a small town, secluded in the beautiful setting of Castle Valley.

[1]  Powell, Allan Kent. Utah History Encyclopedia. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1995. 106.

[2] Powell, Allan Kent. Utah History Encyclopedia. 108.

[3] Powell, Allan Kent. Utah History Encyclopedia. 107.

[4] Powell, Allan Kent. Utah History Encyclopedia. 264.

[5]  Geary, Edward A. A History of Emery County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1996. 52.

[6]  Taniguchi, Nancy J. Castle Valley America Hard Land, Hard-Won Home. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2004. 34.

[7]  Taniguchi, Nancy J. Castle Valley America Hard Land, Hard-Won Home. 33.

[8]  Powell, Allan Kent. Utah History Encyclopedia. 264.

[9] Powell, Allan Kent. Emery County: Reflections on Its Past and Future. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah State Historical Society, 1979. 128.

For Further Reference: 

Primary Sources:

Berrett, William E., and Alma P. Burton. Readings in L.D.S. Church History: from Original Manuscripts. First ed. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1955. 

Secondary Sources: 

Geary, Edward A. A History of Emery County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society,   1996.

Powell, Allan Kent. Emery County: Reflections on Its Past and Future. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1979.

Powell, Allan Kent. Utah History Encyclopedia. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1995.

Taniguchi, Nancy J. Castle Valley America Hard Land, Hard-Won Home. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2004.

The Great Salt Lake Base and Meridian

Published / by Benjamin Judd / Leave a Comment

Write-up by: Benjamin Judd

Placed by: Mutual Improvement Associations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints and Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association

GPS Coordinates: 40º 46’ 04” N, 111º 54’ 00” W

Historical  Marker Text:

Great Salt Lake Base and Meridian

Fixed by Orson Pratt assisted by Henry G. Sherwood, August 3, 1847, when beginning the original survey of “Great Salt Lake City,” around the “Mormon” temple site designated by Brigham Young July 28, 1847. The city streets were named and numbered from this point.

David H. Burr, First U.S. Surveyor-General for Utah, located here in August 1855, the initial point of public land surveys in Utah, and set the stone monument, still preserved in position.

An astronomical station, its stone base still standing 100 ft. N. and 50 ft. W. of this corner was established by George W. Dean, U. S. C. & G. Survey, September 30, 1869, to determine the true latitude and longitude; it was used to obtain correct time at this point until December 30, 1897.

Extended Research:

In the summer of 1847 the first Euro-American settlers arrived in what would become Utah Territory. Mormon pioneers traveled West to escape persecution, ending their journey in the Salt Lake valley. After arriving in the valley, the saints quickly began building up the new city around a point designated by Orson Pratt as the base and meridian. 

This point marks the center of Salt Lake City. Many Utah cities share a similar grid system where the streets run north to south, criss-crossed with streets running east to west. Many of Salt Lake’s streets have no names, but rather obtain their labeling by their distance from this marker in each direction beginning with zero, and progressing by roughly 100 with each city block. Brigham Young, as president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, started this system, with the city emanating from the temple lot, keeping it a focal point of their daily lives. “Here we will build the temple of our God,” Young said upon choosing the spot [1]. This point marked more than just the center of their city, it marked the center of their lives. 

In October of 1855, at the point surveyed by Orson Pratt, the surveyor general named David H. Burr placed a stone marker depicting the location of the base and meridian of Utah. Benjamin Thomas Mitchell received payment of $25 to carve the marker out of local sandstone. Mitchell, one of the designers and masons for the Salt Lake Temple, first worked on the Nauvoo Temple in Illinois. Mitchell designed the ‘sun stones’ which adorned the exterior of the Nauvoo Temple, and this experience qualified him for the new task. His marker stood for many years, but the sandstone eventually wore down and eroded until it needed to be replaced, even after receiving a protective Iron fence in 1932. [2].

In August 1989 a replica marker, carved in sandstone taken from the same area as the original, took the spot. Johann Huettlinger, a trained mason, matched the original design, and placed the new marker where the first stood all those years. In 1992, the original marker carved by Benjamin Mitchell then took up residence in the LDS Church History Museum located on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. [3].

Notably, a discrepancy between Orson Pratt’s findings, and the actual coordinates of the “Initial Point,” shows roughly 27 degrees of difference. [4]. Pratt originally surveyed the area upon being the first to arrive in the valley. His work, found using astronomical observations and an array of tools and equipment brought West with him, guided the entire layout of the city. Newer GPS technology shows a minor difference between the points, though the mistake often goes overlooked due to the inaccuracy of the surveying equipment used. The point chosen by Orson Pratt remains the center of the city to this day, central to much of life in Salt Lake City and even surrounding areas.

Photo of  original sandstone marker carved by Benjamin Thomas Mitchell surrounded by a barrier fencing to protect the stone from further damage and deterioration.

(Photo Credit: accessed 02-15-2020)

[1] Marsh, W. Jeffrey. “Brigham Young: A Disciple Indeed.” Religious Educator: Perspectives onthe Restored Gospel 3, no. 3 (2002): 23.

These words were spoken by Brigham Young with the touch of his cane to the very grounds the temple sits on. It was at this points when the saints began to build Salt Lake City around the temple lot. This took place just days after entering the valley.

[2] “The Center of the City.” Church History. Accessed February 25, 2020.

[3] De Groote, Michael. “How Everything in Utah Is Connected to Temple Square.” Deseret News. Deseret News,November 6, 2008. everything-in-utah-is-connected-to-temple-square

[4] “The Center of the City.” Church History. Accessed February 25, 2020.

For further reference:

Primary sources:

Historic American Engineering Record, Creator. Great Salt Lake Base & Meridian, Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, UT. Salt Lake City Salt Lake County Utah, 1968. Documentation Compiled After. Photograph.

Nielsen, Quig. “1855 Base and Meridian Market on Display.” Davis County Clipper. March 20, 1992. Https://

“Tablet Honoring Surveyor Who Fixed S. L. Meridian to Be Placed.” Salt Lake Telegram, 6 June 1932. Utah Digital Newspapers. Accessed March 28, 2020.

“Permission Given to Fence Marker,” Salt Lake Telegram, 9 June 1932. Utah Digital Newspapers. Accessed March 28, 2020.

Secondary sources:

“The Center of the City.” Church History. Accessed February 25, 2020.

De Groote, Michael. “How Everything in Utah Is Connected to Temple Square.” Deseret News, November 6, 2008. everything-in-utah-is-connected-to-temple-square

Marsh, W. Jeffrey. “Brigham Young: A Disciple Indeed.” Religious Educator: Perspectives on the Restored Gospel 3, no. 3 (2002): 23.

“Utah Surveying History.” Utah Council of Land Surveyors. Accessed March 13, 2020.

Wysong, Sheri. “The Mountain Men, the Cartographers, and the Lakes.” Utah Historical Quarterly 86, no. 2 (2018): 129-147.

Aunt Libby’s Dog Cemetery

Published / by Shannon Gebbia / Leave a Comment

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.

Thomas Kearns Mansion and Carriage House

Published / by Brooklyn Lancaster / Leave a Comment

Write up by: Brooklyn Lancaster

Marker placed by: The National Registry of Historic Places

Coordinates: 40.7698° N, 111.8741° W
603 E. South Temple St., Salt Lake City, Utah, 84102

Marker Transcript:
Utah Historic Site
Thomas Kearns Mansion and Carriage House
Built 1900-1902 of Sanpete Limestone.
Architect Carl M. Neuhausen.
Governor’s Mansion 1937-1957.
Division of State History N-1

National Register Plaque

Extended Research:
Thomas Kearns was born in Canada in l862. His family then moved to a farm in Nebraska in 1870. Thomas didn’t grow up with a lot of money. When he was 17 years old, he left his family’s farm to look for a job. He ended up working different mines in South Dakota as well as Arizona. He then heard about Park City while riding on a train. He decided to head to Park City in 1883 hoping to make it big.

While mining in Park City Thomas discovered that there was an untapped silver vein in a mine called the Mayflower. He decided to lease the Mayflower with the help of two of his friends, David Keith and John Judge. On April 15, l889, they struck “gold,” or in this case silver. Over the next few years, Thomas and his partners bought several nearby mines, including the Silver King. The Silver King was one of the greatest silver mines in the world. It soon made Thomas and his partners very wealthy.

Once the railroad made its way to Utah in 1869, people from all over the world came to Utah hoping to make it rich in Utah’s mines. While this worked for some, others made money off of supplying goods for the miners. The people who struck it rich started to build impressive homes on the most desirable street in Salt Lake City at the time–South Temple. Even Brigham Young, an important local church leader, had several homes on the street. Other important pioneer leaders also built houses on the street.

By 1899, Thomas Kearns’s partners had both built mansions on South Temple which led Thomas to follow their example and buy some land to build his own mansion. After buying land Thomas hired architect Carl Neuhausen to design his home for him. The building of the mansion took from 1900 to 1902.

Thomas wanted his home to be the most modern and up to date, including the latest technology. He had electric lights, steam-heated radiators, a call board, and dumb waiters all installed in his home. Thomas even had one of the first indoor showers in Utah. The mansion also had a bowling alley, though all the pins had to be placed by hand. Jennie Kearns, Thomas’ wife, went all the way to Europe with their children to find art and furniture to decorate the mansion. They wanted the best of the best when it came to their home.

The Front of the Kearns Mansion

Architect Carl Neuhausen wanted the Kearns Mansion to look like a French castle. Each side of the mansion is designed differently. The mansion also has turrets on three of the four corners. The walls are made of limestone and have carvings around the windows and doors. Besides the mansion, the Kearns family also had a carriage house. Thomas was a great horse lover and had eight carriages. Once cars became more popular, the Kearns family stored their cars in the carriage house instead. Thomas Kearns was one of the first people to buy a car in Utah. However, he never actually learned to drive it.

The Carriage House

In 1938 the Kearns Mansion was renovated to become the Utah’s Governor’s Mansion. Governor Henry Blood and his family were the first governor’s family to live in the Kearns Mansion. It was then used as the home of the governor until 1959 when George D. Clyde became governor. He refused to live in the mansion. Subsequently, a new home was then built for the then governor. Besides Governor Clyde, Governor Calvin Rampton, was the only other governor to not live in the Kearns Mansion after it became the official residence of the governor. [1]

With the Governor moving out, the Utah State Historical Society decided to move in. Sadly, they didn’t have the funds to truly keep the mansion in good shape. The mansion became more and more run down over the subsequent years. It wasn’t until 1976, when Governor Scott Matheson was elected, that the mansion was given an update and repaired. The Governor then decided to move his family into the mansion in 1980. 

The mansion was used as the Governor of Utah’s residence all the way up to December of 1993. That was when Governor Mike Leavitt’s family Christmas tree caught fire in the Grand Hall.[2] The fire spread quickly. Luckily everyone was able to get out of the building without injury but much of the house was destroyed. Priceless woodwork, hand-carved and painted decorations, art, fabric, and furniture were charred and gone. During the restoration of the Kearns Mansion officials decided to return the home to its 1900s roots. While still updating the electrical wiring, plumbing, and heating they tried to make it look like it did when the Kearns family lived in the home. 

During the life of the Kearns Mansion it has been a family home, a Governor’s residence, as well as an office for the Utah State Historical Society. It has been nearly burned to the ground and then fully restored. It is still standing after over a hundred years, sharing the history of the Kearns family, Salt Lake City, and Utah with everyone who visits. In 2020, it is still in use as the governor’s mansion for Utah governor Gary Herbert.

[1] The Governor’s decision to vacate the Kearns’ Mansion was a controversial one because of the fact that the Kearns’ family had donated the mansion for that use.

[2] While the Governor was not at home at the time of the fire his family was.  

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:
“Fire, Smoke and Repairs.” Governor Seal. Accessed January 30, 2020.

“Historic Utah Governor’s Mansion Reopens”, press release and program. Accessed January 30, 2020.

Secondary Sources:
“Fire, Smoke and Repairs.” Governor Seal. Accessed January 30, 2020.

Kued. “The Governor’s Mansion – PBS Utah Productions.”, February 1, 2019.

“KEARNS, THOMAS.” Utah History Encyclopedia. Accessed March 18, 2020.

Wilson, Martin and Susan Holt, Rob Pett, Ellie Sonntag, “The Governor’s Mansion: Ready for Utah’s Second Century,” Utah Preservation, Vol. 1, 1997: 10-19. Issuu. Accessed March 18, 2020.

Utah State History. “Utah Preservation Restoration, Volume 2, 1980.” Issuu. Accessed March 20, 2020.

In Honor of James Bridger

Published / by Mark Trapasso / Leave a Comment

Write-up by Mark Trapasso

Placed By: Bear River Chapter of Future Farmers of America and Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association, No. 10

GPS Coordinates: 41° 38′ 7.44″ N, 112° 7′ 42.24″ W 

Historical Marker Text:

Early Western Fur Trapper, Frontiersman, Scout and Guide. To settle a wager among the trappers who were making their first winter rendezvous in Cache Valley, Bridger floated alone in a bull boat down the Bear River to its outlet to determine the river’s course in the late Autumn or early Winter of 1824, thus making the original discovery of Great Salt Lake, but believing he had discovered a salty arm of the Pacific Ocean, he halted at such view points as this en route to reconnoiter.

Extended Research:

Jim Bridger - Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (U.S. ...
Photo Credit: (Accessed 4.24.20)

James Bridger, better known as Jim Bridger, was born on March 17, 1804 in Richmond Virginia. At the age of 8 Bridger’s father moved his family to a small farm just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. While in Missouri, Jim never received a formal education, but Bridger “apprenticed to a blacksmith, learned to handle boats, and became a good shot and skilled woodsman.”[1] In 1822 he was hired by the Ashley-Henry Fur Trading Company. While he worked for this company, he was crucial to the construction of the first fur trading post along the Yellowstone River. Bridger is also credited as the first Euro-American man to discover the Great Salt Lake. This, though, ignores the Native Americans who inhabited the region long before Bridger’s arrival. In 1776, the Spanish explorers, Dominguez and Escalante, traveled north from New Mexico looking for a more effective trade route from Santa Fe to the West Coast. During this expedition, Escalante kept a detailed journal of his voyage. In this journal he states, “the Timpanois assured us that anyone who wet some part of the body with them immediately felt a lot of itching in the part moistened.”[2] This entry proves that long before Bridger ever floated down Bear River, there were previous inhabitants of the area that were familiar with the Great Salt Lake. 

There is more to Bridger’s story than just floating down a river; he had a very complex relationship with Utah and its Mormon settlers. On June 28, 1847, Brigham Young and Jim Bridger met for the first time at Little Sandy River. Young described Bridger a “pioneer, hunter, trapper and trader, 43 years old, relatively short in stature but with a thick neck.”[3] During their meeting, Bridger mapped out and gave Brigham Young a detailed description of the Wasatch Front. Bridger was optimistic about the Great Salt Lake area sustaining a large population, but was skeptical if the weather was going to be too harsh for crops. 

Fort Bridger |
Photo Credit: (Accessed 4.24.20)

By the end of 1843, Bridger had built and established a very well known trading post located on Black’s Fork of the Green River. This trading post was known as Fort Bridger, and later served as a military outpost. In 1853, the relationship between the Mormon settlers and Jim Bridger started to boil over. Bridger was accused by Mormon leaders of illegal trading with Indians to profit himself, and potentially put the Mormons in danger with the sale of weapons and ammunition. Due to this accusation, Bridger’s trading rights were revoked and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Before anyone could reach Bridger, he had fled.[4] When he returned in 1855, Bridger sold his fort to the Mormons for 8,000 dollars. During the Utah war, the Mormons knew that this could be a valuable resource for the U.S., so they set fire to the fort before deserting it. Once the militia had arrived, they spent a miserable winter there with little to no supplies.

Photo Credit: (Accessed 4.24.20)

After Bridger’s days of exploration and fur trading were over he took his family to a small farm in Westport Missouri. With no remaining contact between the Mormon settlers or Brigham Young, he lived the rest of his days in peace surrounded by his family. James Bridger died in Missouri at the age of 77 on July 17, 1881. 

[1] “Jim Bridger Born.” A&E Television Networks, November 16, 2009.

[2] Sanchez, Joseph P. Explorers, Traders and Slavers : Forging the Old Spanish Trail, 1678-1850. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1997. Accessed April 24, 2020. ProQuest Ebook Central.

[3] Bennett, Richard E. We’ll Find the Place : The Mormon Exodus, 1846-1848. 1997

[4] “BRIDGER, JAMES.” Utah History Encyclopedia. Accessed April 3, 2020.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

“Major Jim Bridger, the First Great Utahn.” Goodwin’s Weekly, 4 July 1908. Utah Digital Newspapers. Accessed April 3, 2020.

“Jim Bridger, ‘Covered Wagon’ Hero, Brave, Honest and True Frontiersman.” Salt Lake Telegram, 27 January 1924. Utah Digital Newspapers. Accessed April 3, 2020.,+‘Covered+Wagon’+Hero,+Brave,+Honest+and+True+Frontiersman.&sort=rel.

Secondary Sources:

Bagley, Will. “Fort Bridger.”, November 8, 2014.

Chan, Amy. “A Bridge Too Far.” HistoryNet. HistoryNet, July 17, 2019.

Chiaventone, Fredrick J. “Jim Bridger.” Cowboys and Indians Magazine, August 2015.

Foster, Robert L. 2012. “A Bridger Too Far.” Wild West 25 (2): 28–35.

Mays, Kenneth. “Picturing History: Jim Bridger and the Little Sandy Crossing.” Deseret News, September 11, 2019.

Sanchez, Joseph P. Explorers, Traders and Slavers : Forging the Old Spanish Trail, 1678-1850. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1997. Accessed April 24, 2020. ProQuest Ebook Central.

“BRIDGER, JAMES.” Utah History Encyclopedia. Accessed April 3, 2020.

“Jim Bridger Born.” A&E Television Networks, November 16, 2009.

Black Hawk: Ute Indian Chief

Published / by Jennifer Talkington / Leave a Comment

Write up by: Jennifer Talkington

Placed By: Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT)

GPS Coordinates: 40 0’16” N 111 44’48” S

Historical Marker Text Transcript: “BLACK HAWK – UTE INDIAN CHIEF When the Ute Indian Chief, Black Hawk, died on September 27, 1870 near Spring Lake and was buried by his tribe in a nearby ravine, there was laid to rest a man designated by Brigham Young as “The most formidable foe amongst the Redman” that the pioneers had encountered in many years. These words were prompted by the memory of Chief Black Hawk’s part in Utah’s worst Indian war which ended in 1867. The war commenced in April 1865 at Manti, Sanpete County. Three years later, when the Indians were finally brought to terms, 51 settlers had been killed and 25 settlements abandoned in 5 counties. The seriousness of the Indian depredations was such that during the three-year war, over 4,700 men of the Territorial Militia were called into service. Expenses incurred during the war were in excess of one and one half million dollars. Although scattered Indian raids continued into the summer of 1868, the Black Hawk War was regarded as officially closed in 1867.”

Historical Marker in Spring Lake Photo by: Jennifer Talkington
Close up of the emblem on the Historical Marker. Photo by Jennifer Talkington

Extended Research:

The Black Hawk War was fought between the Ute Indians and the Mormon settlers in central and southern Utah between 1865 and 1872. Tensions between the groups had been building since the Mormon settlers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 due to struggles over resources. The Mormon settlers chose the best land to settle, took productive fisheries such as Utah Lake, took timber, drove game away and diverted critical water sources for irrigating crops, leaving the Native people of Utah destitute and starving.[1] After almost twenty years of living together in relative peace, tensions became too much. No one single event sparked the war, as many skirmishes were happening on a small scale all around central and southern Utah. However, many historians suggest that a disagreement between two men boiled over into warfare in April of 1865.[2] A young Ute man named Jake Arapeen rode into Manti with Black Hawk and met up with John Lowry, a Mormon settler and employee of the United States Indian Office, to discuss the tensions. The discussion led to a heated argument between the two men. In anger, John Lowry pulled Jake Arapeen off his horse by his hair and they fought on the ground. Seeing this as the lowest of insults, Jake Arapeen and Black Hawk rode off together and that day decided an all-out war against the Mormons was the only option.[3]

The fiercest of the fighting took place between 1865 and 1867. Both sides were perpetrators during this war and sadly most of the victims were innocent of depredations. The Circleville Massacre of April 1866 was one such horrible event to come out of the Black Hawk War. A friendly group of Paiute Indians were camped near Circleville when a church order came down to disarm the Indians. The Mormon settlers were interested in self-preservation and so decided to round up the Paiutes and put them in a meeting house under security. Two Paiutes managed to break free and were shot as they were getting away. Paranoia got the best of the settlers and they decided they should kill the twenty-four remaining Paiutes.[4]  Brigham Young was disgusted by the murders and “later said that the curse of God rested upon the Circle Valley and its inhabitants because of it.”[5]

Also in 1866, the Ute’s raided horses and cattle from Scipio and the surrounding area totaling 350 head of cattle, a huge loss for Mormon settlers. As the settlers tried to regain their cattle, the Battle of Gravelly Ford began. The Mormons and the Utes exchanged gunfire, killing a 14-year-old Mormon boy and James Russell Ivie. During the battle, Black Hawk was shot in the stomach, but the Ute’s managed to escape.

In 1867, Black Hawk was sick from an infection caused by the bullet wound he received in the Battle of Gravelly Ford. He saw that his people could not win the war as the Mormon population kept increasing. Black Hawk decided he would go on a campaign of peace. He personally visited many Mormon villages he had raided to apologize for the pain he and his warriors caused. He was laid to rest on September 27, 1870 in the same place as his birth: Spring Lake Utah.[6]

Spring Lake in January. The place that Black Hawk was born and where he was buried. Photo by Jennifer Talkington

The death of Black Hawk did not bring an end to this war. The Ute people were starving, their population decimated through disease and loss of game. Periodic raids to avoid starvation continued by the Utes until 1872.[7] It was in 1872 that the federal troops took control of the area as the Nauvoo Legion was dismantled. The federal troops strictly forced the Utes to remain on the Uintah Reservation. Once the Mormon settlers were free from raids, they were able to go back to previously abandoned settlements. They also used Chief Black Hawk’s raiding trails to expand their territory even further.[8] This historical marker is in need of an update, as we now know that the number of settlers killed was at least 70.[9] It is thought that at least 140 Native Americans died during this conflict, likely more. The result of the war for the Utes was a move to the Uintah Reservation, giving up their traditional lifestyle for a life of dependency on the United States Government.  The result of the war for the Mormon settlers was the unimpeded colonization of Utah Territory, leading the way to statehood in 1896.[10]

[1] Gottfredson, Peter, ed. (1919). History of Indian Depredations in Utah. (Salt Lake City: Fenestra Books,2002), 20-22.

[2] Peterson, John Alton. Utah’s Black Hawk War. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1998), 16.

[3] Peterson, Black Hawk, 17.

[4] Jones, Sondra. Being and Becoming Ute: The Story of an American Indian People. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2019), 166.

[5] Wells, Quentin Thomas Wells. Defender: The Life of Daniel H. Wells. (Boulder: Utah State University Press, 2016), 280.

[6] Gottfredson, Depredations, 227.

[7] Jones, Becoming Ute, 172.

[8] Petersen, Black Hawk, 396.

[9] Peterson, Black Hawk,  2.

[10] May, Dean. Utah: A People’s History. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1987).

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Gottfredson, Peter, ed. (1919). History of Indian Depredations in Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah: Fenestra Books.

Secondary Sources:

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

Jones, Sondra. Being and Becoming Ute: The Story of an American Indian People. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 2019.

Peterson, John Alton. Utah’s Black Hawk War. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1998.

Wells, Quentin Thomas Wells. Defender: The Life of Daniel H. Wells. Boulder, Colorado: Utah State University Press, 2016.

Hill Aerospace Museum

Published / by Max Thompson / Leave a Comment

Write up by: Maxwell Thompson

GPS Coordinates: 

Latitude: 41° 9′ 43.4088” N
Longitude: 112° 1′ 8.5224” W

Historical Marker Text: “1991- This Plaque commemorates the gift of the museum building complex from the citizens of the state of Utah to the United States Air Force—the 1988 and 1989 Utah State Legislatures”

Extended Research: 

The Hill Aerospace Museum is located on the northwest corner of Hill Air Force Base in Roy, Utah. The Air Force base itself was built and activated in 1940 and named after Major Ployer P. Hill, a test pilot who died while testing a plane.[1] The base is the second largest in the Air Force in terms of population as well as its geographic size, with over one million acres of land and 1,700 facilities. For Utahns, the base is the state’s largest single employer site, with over 23,000 people working there.[2] The base was used as a maintenance and supply depot during World War II and then as logistical support for large numbers of aircraft during the Korean and Vietnam wars.[3]

In the 1940s, the museum was originally located on the military base itself, although it was fairly small and only held a WWII display of some weapons and equipment.[4] The Museum grew and eventually moved to its current location in 1987 where it now houses several large planes which are no longer in commission, war equipment, and some educational centers for the children who visit. In 1988, the State of Utah appropriated $5 million for the building of the current museum complex. 

The focus of the Hill Aerospace Museum is on flight and the history of the Air Force. There is a secondary focus on Utah flight history. Throughout the museum there are small plaques with descriptions of Utah Air Force aviators who served their country in different capacities. This is capped off by the Utah Aviation Hall of Fame which is just inside the entrance to the museum. This is a special room that is dedicated to celebrating the contributions that men and women from Utah have made to the world of aviation. With Hill Air Force Base being so close to the museum, there are quite a few aviators who served at Hill who are showcased in the Hall of Fame. 

Inside of the museum are two large areas where different artifacts, mainly planes and helicopters, are displayed. Outside there are very large carrier planes for visitors to see.

 The Museum is comprised of two different sections, both are more like giant plane hangars than a regular museum. Both sections house aircraft from different eras, beginning with World War I, all the way up through some of the popular F-16s that are used in today’s Air Force. Included along with the aircraft, are a series of  uniforms that the military men and women wore while in combat, along with their everyday uniforms. The uniforms are organized chronologically,  set up to parallel the plane era progression.

It is also worth noting that there is an aircraft just outside the museum, which was one of the jets used as  “Air Force One” while  Lyndon B. Johnson was president of the United States. The aircraft has had some work done on it to renovate it after some normal wear and tear from a few years of flight.[5]

In sum, the Aerospace Museum at Hill is filled with planes and helicopters and offers an overview of aviation history. There are plenty of airplanes and aviation artifacts at the museum to capture the attention of visitors, old and young alike.

Former Air Force One plane on display at the Aerospace Museum

For further reference:

Secondary Sources:

“About the Museum,” Hill Aerospace Museum,

“About Us,” Hill Airforce Base,

Aerospace Heritage Foundation of Utah. Hill Aerospace Museum Official Guide Book. 2007.

Hibbard, Charles G. “Hill Air Force Base.” Utah History Encyclopedia. Ed. by Allen Kent Powell. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1994.

[1] Charles G. Hibbard, “Hill Air Force Base,” Utah History Encyclopedia, ed. by Allen Kent Powell (Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1994).

[2] Hibbard, “Hill Air Force Base;” “About Us,” Hill Air Force Base,, accessed 9 April 2020.

[3] Hibbard, “Hill Air Force Base.”

[4] “About Us,” Hill Air Force Base,, accessed 9 April 2020; “Hill Aerospace Museum,” Hill Air Force Base,, accessed 9 April 2020.

[5] Hill Aerospace Museum Plaque.

U.S.S. Utah Bell

Published / by Matt Peplin / Leave a Comment
The bell in its current display

Write-up by Matt Peplin

Placed by: Naval History and Heritage Command

GPS Coordinates: 40° 46’ 0.408” N 111° 50’ 56.94” W

Historical Marker located on each side of bell
Plaque just left of bell from first image

Historical Marker Text: Main Ship’s bell from the USS Utah (BB-31) bronze with later painting of bell shoulder and lip. Originally installed suspended and used for ship functions and ceremonies. It is uncertain if the bell was still on board the Utah in 1941. Conservation treatment completed and bell reinstalled at the University of Utah in 2017.

Courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command, Catalog No. 2016.048.001

Plaque Reads: U.S.S. UTAH 31 AUG. 1911 7 DEC. 1941

Bell Reads: U.S.S. UTAH 1911

Extended Research:

Built by the New York Shipbuilding Company, the U.S.S. Utah launched on December 23, 1909 from Camden, NJ. The ship was sponsored by Mary Alice Spry, daughter of former Utah Governor William Spry and commissioned August 31, 1911 in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The ship spent most of its early years as a training vessel, operating across the eastern seaboard from as far North as New England and as far South as Cuba. The Utah saw its first “action” in April of 1914 in Veracruz, Mexico. Its battalion at the time (17 officers and 367 sailors) successfully seized the Veracruz customs house, preventing the Germans from supplying arms and munitions to the Mexican dictator, Victoriano Huerta. Seven men were awarded Medals of Honor for their roles the operation. [1]

BB-31 during trials in 1911 (Courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command)

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the Utah reported to Bantry Bay, Ireland to help escort Allied convoys to the British Isles. Once the hostilities of World War I ended, the Utah participated in the honorary escort of President Woodrow Wilson to France (aboard the George Washington) for the eventual signing of the Treaty of Versailles. In the interwar period, the Utah continued a regular schedule of battle practices and maneuvers. On October 31, 1925 the ship was briefly decommissioned to undergo modernization, switching from coal to oil fuel, among other changes. Notably, the Utah transported President Hoover to South America and back in the winter of 1925. [2]

BB-31 photographed in WW1 with camouflage on hull (Courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command)

On July 1, 1931 the Utah, in accordance with the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, converted from a battleship (BB-31) to a mobile target (AG-16) in the Norfolk Navy Yard. The ship was equipped with a radio control apparatus that could adjust the ship’s speed and course without human hands, among other changes that made it more suitable for training exercises. As a mobile target, the ship was an invaluable teaching tool that gave US navy pilots a realistic objective to practice torpedo bombing, among other maneuvers. The Utah was instrumental in training the next generation of US sailors, who fought in World War 2. After transitioning to a mobile target, the Utah spent the rest of the 1930s on the west coast, primarily off the shores of California. [3]

AG-16 off the coast of Long Beach, CA in 1935 (Courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command)
Wreckage of the Utah in Pearl Harbor, February 1944 (Courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command)

The Utah moved from California to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in September of 1941, the same place it was on the morning of December 7, 1941. The highest ranking officer on the ship at the time was Lieutenant Commander Solomon Isquith, who described the events as follows, “On Sunday, December 7, 1941, while moored at Berth FOX-11 Pearl Harbor, T.H., 3 planes whose identification were not questioned but taken for U.S. planes maneuvering, were observed just as colors were being hoisted at 0800, heading northerly from the harbor entrance. They made a low dive on the southern end of Ford Island and each dropped a bomb.” Isquith adds, “At about 0812, the last mooring lines had parted and the ship was capsized, the keel plainly showing. All men picked up by ship’s boats were taken ashore to Ford Island and boats ordered to return and pick up any men still swimming about.” [4] The Utah sank within the first 10 minutes of the events of Pearl Harbor. Its hulk remains there today. Six officers and fifty-two men from the ship lost their lives. [5]

AG-16 (or BB-31) represented the state it got its name from admirably, providing 30 years of service for this great nation. Some parallels can be drawn between Utah, the state and Utah, the ship. Like the ship, the state of Utah was used for training, preparing, and supplying soldiers for the realities of World War II. The Wendover Air Force Base and its surrounding salt flats helped prepare numerous American airmen and Salt Lake City served as a manufacturing and logistical hub for the army in the West. While the ship is often overshadowed by the U.S.S. Arizona in the tragedy of Pearl Harbor, the state’s WWII contributions are usually overlooked. [6] The outbreak of WWII (in the US) may have sunk the ship, yet the war brought in a tidal wave of jobs and economic activity to the state. The state’s fourteen military installations created nearly 40,000 jobs over the course of the war and the state’s population increased 25% from 1940-1950. The war also transformed the lives of the over 62,000 Utahns who served in WWII, with 3,660 Utahns paying the ultimate price for their nation. Perhaps the Utah and its now memorialized bell can serve as a reminder of the incredible hard work and sacrifice made by thousands of Utahns throughout this period of our nation’s history. [7]

The bell in its original display, outside the Naval Sciences Building on the campus of the University of Utah (Courtesy of the Marriott Library)

The U.S.S Utah Bell and Plaque are located in the Naval Sciences building on the campus of the University of Utah. It was originally donated to the University of Utah in approximately 1965. The bell arrived in Utah from Hawaii after then-Senator Wallace Bennett arranged for the Navy to ship it on an indefinite loan. Rear Adm. E.M. Eller wrote to Bennett on March 14, 1961, “My Dear Senator, the display of this fine relic should make a splendid memorial to the hardy naval [vessel] that bore the name of Utah for 30 years in our country’s service and to the gallant sons of the Beehive State who contributed so nobly to the heroic traditions of the naval service.” [8] The bell sat outside the Naval Sciences building until August of 2016, when it went back east for a stay at the Naval War College’s Senior Enlisted Academy in Newport, Rhode Island. The bell sat in Tomich Hall to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the facility, named after Chief Wartender Peter Tomich, who heroically went down with the ship in Pearl Harbor. After the brief stay in Rhode Island, it went to Richmond, Virginia to undergo a restoration process. It returned to the University of Utah on December 7, 2017 (the 76th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack) and placed where it now sits, inside the Naval Sciences Building. [9]

[1] Cressman, Robert J.. “Utah I (Battleship No. 31),” Naval History and Heritage Command, last modified May 19, 2019.  

[2] Cressman, “Utah I.”

[3] Cressman, “Utah I.”

[4] Isquith, Lieutenant Commander S.S.. “USS Utah, Report of Pearl Harbor Attack”, Naval History and Heritage Command, report from December 15, 1941.

[5] Cressman, “Utah I.”

[6] Launius, Roger D. “World War II in Utah,” Utah History Encyclopedia, accessed April 2, 2020

[7] Launius, “World War II.”

[8] Ernest M. Eller, correspondence to Wallace F. Bennett, March 14, 1961. Quoted in Rolly, Paul. “To mark Pearl Harbor Day, the bell from the sunken USS Utah returns to the Beehive State, sounding the toll of history,” The Salt Lake Tribune, December 7, 2017.

[9] Rolly, Paul. “To mark Pearl Harbor Day, the bell from the sunken USS Utah returns to the Beehive State, sounding the toll of history,” The Salt Lake Tribune, December 7, 2017.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Isquith, Lieutenant Commander S.S.. “USS Utah, Report of Pearl Harbor Attack”, Naval History and Heritage Command, report from December 15, 1941.

Secondary Sources:

Cressman, Robert J.. “Utah I (Battleship No. 31),” Naval History and Heritage Command, last   modified May 19, 2019.

Launius, Roger D.. “World War II in Utah,” Utah History Encyclopedia, accessed April 2, 2020.

Rolly, Paul. “To mark Pearl Harbor Day, the bell from the sunken USS Utah returns to the Beehive State, sounding the toll of history,” The Salt Lake Tribune, December 7, 2017.

“U.S.S. Utah Ship’s Bell Goes to NROTC Unit,” Utah Daily Chronicle, February 2, 1966.