Category Archives: Water

Settlement of Hatch

Published / by Ashley Sawyer / Leave a Comment

Write-up by Ashley Sawyer

Placed by: The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, No 292

GPS Coordinates: 37°38’57.6″N 112°26’05.0″W

Settlement of Hatch Historical Marker

Historical Marker Text:

In 1872 Meltair Hatch settled at the head of Sevier River, near the junction of Mammoth and Asay Creeks. He engaged in stock raising and operated a water-power sawmill. Soon other settlers came. Land was surveyed and irrigation ditches dug. Lime was burned by Neils P. Clove. First School was in the Hatch Home, Abram Workman Teacher. 1888 the Asay Postoffice was transferred to Hatch, Neils Ivor Clove, Postmaster. In 1892 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints organized Mammoth Ward, Aaron Asay Bishop. 1899 The ward name was changed to Hatch. 1901 to 1904 the town was moved to the present site under the Leadership of Bishop Rosmus Lynn. Camp Hatch Garfield County, Utah

Extended Research:

In 1867, LDS Church Leaders called Meltiar Hatch and his two wives, Permelia and Mary Ann to settle the Dixie Mission, in Eagle Valley, in present day Nevada. At the time, settlers believed they were in the western part of Utah Territory. In 1866, Congress changed state boundaries, but surveyors did not determine the location of those boundaries until the fall of 1869, when Meltiar and his family learned that they were living in Nevada. In response to the news “Meltiar went to St. George to discuss with President Brigham Young about their situation. President Young advised Meltiar to move back to an area on the Sevier River near the forks of Mammoth and Asay Creeks, as there would be good range for their sheep, cattle, and horses which they had acquired while living in Dixie.”1

Meltiar Hatch, Courtesy of
LDS Church

 Given this directive from Young, Hatch moved his second wife Mary Ann and Permelia’s sons to Panguitch in Southern Utah. The next Spring, Permelia and the rest of the family also moved to Panguitch. As more families moved into Panguitch, the residents created a co-op and gathered a sizeable herd. The co-op decided to move the herd twenty miles south of Panguitch, to a ranch. “Meltiar and one of his sons took charge of this enterprise. They built a log home and corrals where Mammoth Creek tumbles down Cedar Mountain to join the Sevier River.”2

Meltiar moved his second wife, Mary Ann, and her family onto the ranch. Mary Ann cooked for the ranch hands and welcomed newcomers and travelers. Other settlers moved into the area of the Co-Op Ranch. The Hatch home thus became the center of what developed into a new town. The Hatch home held school sessions and LDS church services. The Co-Op Ranch was eventually renamed Hatchtown or Hatch. By 1880 about 100 residents lived in or near the community2.

As with most small agricultural communities in the semi-arid West, residents of Hatch had to worry about water. In October of 1901, The Upper Sevier Reservoir Company began building a large dam which would ensure plenty of water for irrigation purposes for the towns of Hatch, Panguitch, and surrounding areas. The new dam provided much needed water, but by March 1903, residents of the region expressed concern that the new dam would not hold. In March 1903, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that “The work on the reservoir is not far enough along to enable the water to run off through the spills as fast as it comes from the creek above, and there is grave danger of a break.”3  On May 19, 1903, those fears were realized when the dam broke. The breaking of the Hatchtown Dam only caused some damage to the ranchers of Circleville (42 miles north of Hatch) and fortunately did not directly impact Hatch, other than the loss of water it produced.

In May of 1907, the Inter-Mountain Republican Newspaper announced a call for bids to rebuild the Hatchtown Dam. On December 17, 1907, state engineer Caleb Tanner reported to the Inter-Mountain Republican, that the new dam would be ready by spring 1908. However, construction dragged on for several more years when tragedy struck again.

 On May 25, 1914, the new dam broke. The Ogden Daily Standard call it “the biggest dam break by far in the history of Utah” and reported that it occurred at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. “The breaking of the dam let loose a small ocean, as the reservoir, which was protected by the dam, contained approximately 14,000 acre feet of water,” the Standard explained.4 When the dam broke, more than 15 homes were swept away, and 75 people or more were left homeless. Some reports claimed that up to 300 residents of the Upper Sevier Valley, including some in Hatch ended up displaced by the flood. This was the second time the Hatchtown dam broke in less than ten years. For a quiet little town like Hatch these events were traumatic and proved to be major historical incidents.

Residents of Hatch eventually recovered and life returned to normal. In the twenty-first century, Hatch is a sleepy little town with several quaint restaurants and motels. The town mostly caters to travelers along scenic US 89 as well as lodgers looking for adventure in nearby Bryce Canyon National Park.

1 Hatch Historical Committee, Wandering Home: Stories and Memories of Ira Stearns Hatch, Meltiar Hatch, and John Henry Hatch and their Wives and Children, with Historical-Genealogical and Biographical data on their Ancestry and Descendants (Provo, Utah: Community Press, c1988.) Page 32

2 Linda King Newell and Vivian Linford Talbot. A History of Garfield County. (Salt Lake City, UT: Utah State Historical Society; Garfield County Commission, 1998.) Page 115, 117

3 “Danger of Dam Breaking” Salt Lake Tribune 27 March 1903.

4 “Reservoir Breaks near Panguitch in This State” Ogden Daily Standard 26 May 1914

Primary Source:

“Bids Are Asked for Sevier River Dam” Inter-Mountain Republican 29 May 1907

“Hatchtown Dam Ready in Spring” Inter-Mountain Republican 17 December 1907

“Hatchtown Reservoir to be Ready in March” Inter-Mountain Republican 15 January 1909

“Panguitch Notes” Salt Lake Herald-Republican 26 October 1901

 “Reservoir Gives Way” Salt Lake Tribune 20 May 1903

 “Utah Settlers Flee for Their Lives When the Hatchtown Dam Breaks” Salt Lake Telegram 26 May 1914

Secondary Source:

Hatch Historical Committee, Wandering Home: Stories and Memories of Ira Stearns Hatch, Meltiar Hatch, and John Henry Hatch and their Wives and Children, with Historical-Genealogical and Biographical data on their Ancestry and Descendants. Provo, Utah: Community Press, c1988.

Newell, Linda King, and Vivian Linford Talbot. A History of Garfield County. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah State Historical Society; Garfield County Commission, 1998.

Supplemental Photos

Photo of Hatch Ward Building and Bell Marker
Photo of Hatch Ward Building and Bell Historical Marker Close up
Hatch Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum

Kennedy Ditch

Published / by Jaclyn Foster / Leave a Comment

write-up by Jaclyn Foster

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

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

Historical Marker Text:

Photo via

Daughters of Utah Pioneers
No. 96
Erected 1947


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

Photo via

Extended Research:

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

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

Charles Kennedy. Image via

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

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

The missing historical marker

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

For Future Reference:

Primary Sources

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

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

Secondary Sources

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

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

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


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

2. Arrington, 45-53.

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

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

Wasatch Springs Plunge

Published / by Juli Huddleston / Leave a Comment

Write-up by Julia Huddleston

Placed By: Division of State History. The building is on the national register of historic places

GPS: 40.789, -111.900

Historical Marker Text:

Built near several warm springs, the Wasatch Springs Plunge is significant for its Mission style architecture and as an early municipal recreational facility. The warm springs along this portion of the Wasatch Fault were used by Native Americans even before the arrival of the Mormon pioneers who quickly developed the springs and constructed numerous bathing facilities, praising the warm sulphurous [sic] water for its curative and rejuvenating qualities. This substantial masonry building was built by Salt Lake City in 1921 and replaced earlier frame buildings.

Designed by the noted local architecture firm of Cannon and Fetzer, the building exemplifies the Mission Style. The stuccoed walls, red tile roofs, curvilinear parapets, arched openings and arcades are characteristic of the Mission style which emanated from California at the end of the nineteenth century and was based on the old Catholic missions.

Due to problems with the water, deterioration of the structure, construction of newer pools and changes in demographics, the facility fell into disuse in the 1970s and was closed. It was later rehabilitated and reopened in 1983 as The Children’s Museum of Utah.

Marker placed in 1993.

Extended Research:

Built in 1921, the Wasatch Springs Plunge served as a municipal pool for fifty years, tapping into the natural hot springs at the far northern end of Salt Lake City. The building, located at 840 North and 300 West was built by noted architectural firm Cannon and Fetzer and is a striking example of Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture. In its heyday, the building had two pools, administrative offices, several private soaking tanks, a barbershop, a hairdresser, and men and women’s masseurs. Additionally, there were also five rooms available for overnight guests.[1]

The Warm Springs have been utilized by all groups of people who call this region home. Historian Kathryn MacKay notes, “The 2-3 mile strip of hot springs and lake had been used for preceding centuries by the American Indians – Shoshones, Utes, Paiutes – who traveled through the area on hunting, foraging, trading, and social expeditions.”[2] It is likely that white fur trappers who were known to have visited the adjacent area also visited the springs. The first written encounter with the springs comes from a California-bound group, who followed Hastings Cutoff in 1846, and wrote of the warm water and its distinctly unpleasant odor. Erastus Snow, who, along with seven others, arrived in advance of Brigham Young’s wagon train, wrote about the Warm Springs on July 22, 1847. After describing the location, and the rocks nearby, he noted the temperature by writing, “We had no instrument to determine the degree of Temperature but suffice it to say that it was about right for scalding hogs.” Snow decided “The springs are the greatest facilities for a steam doctor I ever saw.” [3]

Classified Photograph Collection, “Warm Springs Bath House P. 1.” Courtesy Utah State History.

The permanent Euro-American settlement of the Salt Lake valley also marks the beginning of human-made structures intended to enhance the enjoyment of the natural springs. The springs were considered to have healing properties and were marketed not only for recreation but also for medicinal uses. In 1850, the Bath House opened and was within the purview of the neighboring Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) 19th ward bishop’s responsibilities. By 1864, this building had fallen into disrepair and was no longer operated by the LDS Church. Over the next several decades the facilities were used for recreational purposes and, in 1916, Salt Lake City assumed ownership. It was at this point when the current structure was built and would remain in near-constant use for the next 85 years.

Classified Photograph Collection, “Warm Springs Bath House P. 15.” Courtesy Utah State History.
Classified Photograph Collection, “Warm Springs Bath House P. 14.” Courtesy Utah State History.
Classified Photograph Collection, “Warm Springs Bath House P. 16.” Courtesy Utah State History.

This period of the building’s history was not without problems. In 1946, concerns were raised over the sanitation of the water, and the city initially suggested chlorinating the pools. However, chlorine mixed with sulfur produces noxious chemicals, harmful to swimmers. As a compromise, the city decided to cap the natural hot springs, and the space was converted to a fresh-water, chlorinated pool.[4] Around that time, the pools began losing their appeal, and by the mid-1970s, they were no longer financially sustainable and were shuttered for nearly a decade before the Children’s Museum of Utah moved into the space in 1981.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, detail showing the Wasatch Springs Plunge in 1950. University of Utah Marriott Library, Print and Journal Division.

Today, the future of the building is unknown. Placed on the historic registry in 1980, the building has not been occupied full-time since the Children’s Museum of Utah moved out in 2006. The Golden Spike Train Club of Utah uses the space to house and work on their model railroad projects, but their future there is not guaranteed.[5] In 2016, Salt Lake City began accepting proposals for development, but eventually ruled out the possibility of putting housing on the site. A local organization, the Warm Springs Alliance, is advocating for the building to be used as warm springs once again.[6] However, this proposal faces significant financial hurdles. As of spring 2019, the building’s future is unknown, but there is no shortage of interest and enthusiasm for utilizing this historic gem in downtown Salt Lake.

Wasatch Springs Plunge in February 2019.
Wasatch Springs Plunge in February 2019.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Erastus Snow Journal, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City.

Secondary Sources:

Lutz, Susan Juch. “Cleaned Up and Cleaned Out: Ruined Hot Springs Resorts of Utah.” GHC Bulletin (Energy and Geoscience Institute, University of Utah), 2004.

Jones, Darrell E. and W. Randall Dixon. “’It Was Very Warm and Smelt Very Bad’: Warm Springs and the First Bathhouse in Salt Lake.” Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, Number 4 (2008): 212-226.

MacKay, Kathryn. “National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form: Wasatch Springs Plunge.” United States Department of the Interior Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service, 1980.

McFarland, Sheena. “Whatever happened to … Wasatch Springs Plunge?” The Salt Lake Tribune, December 23, 2014.

McLane, Michael. “The Children’s Museum.Mapping SLC,

McLane, Michael. “Past and Present Collide at Warm Springs.” Catalyst Magazine, December 1, 2017.

[1] Kathryn MacKay. “National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form: Wasatch Springs Plunge.” United States Department of the Interior Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service, 1980, 9.

[2] MacKay, “National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form,” 6.

[3] Erastus Snow Journal, July 22, 1847, as quoted in Darrell E. Jones and W. Randall Dixon. “‘It Was Very Warm and Smelt Very Bad’: Warm Springs and the First Bathhouse in Salt Lake.” Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, Number 4 (2008): 212-226.

[4] MacKay, 9.

[5] Michael McLane. “The Children’s Museum.” Mapping SLC. Accessed March 15, 2019. See also for information on the model train organization.


Donner Hill

Published / by William Root / Leave a Comment

Placed by: LDS 38th North Ward Priests[1]

GPS Coordinates: 40° 45’5.76″N, 111° 48’3.28″W

Historical Marker Text:
Lured by Lansford Hasting’s assurance that his shortcut from the well-known trail to Oregon and California would save 250 miles and weeks of travel, the ill-fated Donner-Reed party reached this place August 23, 1846, after spending 16 days to hack out a 36-mile road through the Wasatch Mountains. Here at this narrow mouth of the canyon, they were stopped by what seemed impenetrable brush and boulders. Bone-weary of that kind of labor, they decided instead to goad the oxen to climb the hill in front of you. Twelve-year-old Virginia Reed, later recalled that nearly every yoke of oxen was required to pull each of the party’s twenty-three wagons up the hill. After this ordeal, the oxen needed rest, but there was no time. The party pushed on to the Salt Flats, where many of the oxen gave out. This caused delays, which led to disaster in the Sierra Mountains.

A year later, July 22, 1847, Brigham Young’s Pioneer Party, following the Donners and benefitting from their labor, reached this spot. William Clayton recorded their decision: “We found the road crossing the creek again to the south and then ascending a very steep, high hill. It is so very steep as to be almost impossible for heavy wagons to ascend…Colonel Markham and another man went over the hill and returned up the canyon to see if a road cannot be cut through and avoid this hill. Brother Markham says a good road can soon be made through the bushes some ten or fifteen rods. A number of men went to work immediately to make the road…After spending about four hours of labor the brethren succeeded in cutting a pretty good road along the creek and the wagons proceeded on.”

Donner Hill looking east towards Emigration Canyon

Among the lesson learned that day was one stated succinctly by Virginia Reed in a letter to prospective emigrants back home: “Hurry along as fast as you can, and never take no shortcuts.”

Extended Research:

In 1846 a wagon party led by George Donner departed Independence, Missouri and began a perilous journey from the United States towards Alta California in Mexico. The wagons were late in reaching the Sierra Nevada mountain range and disaster awaited the 88 members of the Donner Party. Extreme suffering and starvation followed, with 41 members of the group dying and eventually the incident drew national attention over reports that some members of the ill-fated party resorted to cannibalism in order to survive.[2] The Donner Party originally planned to travel to California via Oregon, but real estate speculator Lansford Hastings promoted an alternate route published in his famous Emigrants Guide to Oregon and California in 1845, and the Donner Party opted to try it.³

Hastings was not certain if he should promote the cutoff from Fort Bridger through the Salt Lake Valley and westward following John C. Fremont’s expedition in 1845, but he received support in favor of the cutoff from Fremont and Jim Bridger. Hastings thus advised the Donner-Reed party that they would save some 350-400 miles if they took his “cutoff.” One of his partners, James Clyman, however became convinced that the route was not suited for wagons and therefore tried to dissuade members of Donner-Reed Party from taking the cutoff. Joseph R. Walker, who successfully guided the first wagons over the California Trail by way of Fort Hall, also thought the route an unproven risk.[3]

Other migrant groups, which included the Bryant-Russell Party and Harlan-Young wagons, left Fort Bridger in mid-July 1848, following the Bear River into East Canyon where they passed through Devil’s Gate with difficulty along the Weber River. Hastings subsequently directed a group of German migrants from the Heinrich Lienhard party on a direct route through Echo Canyon into Devil’s Gate, where they caught up with the Harlan-Young party near the Jordan River. The Donner Party departed Fort Bridger two weeks later on July 31 and Hastings talked them out of going via Weber Canyon and Devil’s Gate, instead telling them to blaze a new path over to what would come to be called Emigration Canyon. On August 7, 1846, James Reed began carving a trail for the wagon train, chopping down bushes and trees in the Wasatch Mountains towards the canyon. Reed was joined by the remaining members of the wagon party who continued to hack and dig their way for 35 miles from present-day Henefer, Summit County, to Salt Lake City.²

Emigration Creek along Donner Hill

The Bryant-Russell, Harlan-Young and Lienhard parties would successfully pass through the Sierra Nevada Mountains into California, while the time the Donner Party spent trailblazing in Utah foreshadowed later events. After the three week trek through the Wasatch Mountains, the oxen were already exhausted and their supplies began to run low.

After entering the Salt Lake Valley, the first member of the party died of tuberculosis near the Great Salt Lake. A site near Grantsville, Utah provided temporary relief with underground water springs, their last source of water until reaching the Humboldt River. In the Salt Flats, Reed’s thirsty oxen ran off and were never seen again. Upon reaching Iron Hill, a fight broke out between one of Reed’s teamsters and John Snyder, a driver for the Graves wagon. Reed stabbed Snyder in the chest and was banished by the Donners after Snyder died. Reed thus avoided being pinned down by the early winter storms which trapped the rest of the party. His departure in October towards Sutter’s Fort allowed him to organize a rescue party in Sacramento that arrived in February 1847. Along the Humboldt River a band of Paiute Indians killed 21 of the Donner Party’s oxen and stole another 18, with more than 100 of the party’s cattle now gone. Two Indian guides assisted the Donner Party in reaching the summit of the Sierra Nevada, but turned back with the first sign of snowfall in early November.1

Donner-Reed Party burial remains discovered in the Salt Lake Desert

The delayed timing and trek through the west desert led to the party becoming snowbound in the Sierras. Malnutrition was a common cause of death, and Irish immigrant Patrick Breen wrote in his journal on Christmas Eve that he was living in a “Camp of Death”. 1 Some of the members of the party camped along the banks of Alder Creek and frozen Truckee Lake, now Donner Lake, where most of the cannibalism occurred. The first rescuers arrived at Truckee Lake in February 1847, composed of soldiers from the U.S. Army stationed in California during the U.S.-Mexican War, among them were members of the Mormon Battalion. One week after rescuers arrived, other isolated camp sites were still using the corpses of the dead for food. Breen wrote in his diary on February 26:

Martha’s jaw swelled with the toothache: hungry times in camp; plenty hides, but the folks will not eat them. We eat them with a tolerable good apetite. Thanks be to Almighty God. Amen. Mrs Murphy said here yesterday that [she] thought she would Commence on Milt. & eat him. I don’t [think] that she has done so yet; it is distressing. The Donners, 4 days ago, told the California folks that they[would] commence to eat the dead people if they did not succeed, that day or next, in finding their cattle.1

Patrick Breen’s diary entry describing the routine cannibalism in the encampment

Three additional relief efforts occurred in April in an attempt to find members who had become separated while camping along Truckee Lake. In the last effort they found only one survivor, Louis Keesberg, who was surrounded by half-eaten corpses. As the survivors departed with the rescuers, members of the Mormon Battalion were ordered to bury the dead bodies inside the main cabin on what is today Donner Pass and then set fire to the cabin.[4]

The Donner Party, in essence, blazed the trail into the Salt Lake Valley which Brigham Young and the Mormon Pioneers used the following year. Young left Winter Quarters, Nebraska with his encampment and passed through the mouth of Echo Canyon by mid-July 1847; he then picked up the Donner-Reed trail and followed it into the Salt Lake Valley. Instead of three weeks, it took Young’s party one week, a matter of great importance since it enabled the Mormons to plant wheat and potato crops in time for their first harvest in the fall. In the last quarter-mile, rather than hauling their wagons over Donner Hill, the Mormons decided to hack through the brush and go around Donner Hill. The Mormons emerged four hours later at what is now This is the Place State Park.[5]

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Breen, Patrick. Diary of Patrick Breen of the Donner Party, 1846-7. Berkeley: University  of         California Bancroft Library, 1910.

Secondary Sources:

Campbell, Eugene. “The Mormons and the Donner Party.” BYU Studies Quarterly, Vol. 11 no. 3 (1971).

Miller, David. “The Donner Road through the Great Salt Lake Desert.” Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 27, no. 1 (February 1958): 39-44

[1] Originally installed by “Mormon Explorers” Y.M.M.I.A. In 2010, the original plaque was stolen and re-erected in 2016 by the LDS 38th North Ward High Priests

[2] Campbell, “The Mormons and the Donner Party.”

[3] Miller, “The Donner Road through the Great Salt Lake Desert,” 39-44

1 Breen, 18

1 Breen, 28

[5] Campbell, “The Mormons and the Donner Party.”

Garfield and Lake Point Resorts

Published / by Ben Kiser / 1 Comment on Garfield and Lake Point Resorts

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




            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.


Extended Research:

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.[1]  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.[2]  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.”[3]  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.[4]

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.”[5]  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.[6]  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.[7]

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

[1] Jared Farmer, On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009).

[2] Dale L. Morgan, The Great Salt Lake (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1973 [1949]), 355-356.

[3] Ovando James Hollister, The Resources and Attractions of the Territory of Utah (Omaha: Omaha Republican Publishing House, 1879), 66, accessed March 29, 2017,

[4] 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.

[5] “The Infamous Proceedings against Dr. Clinton,” Deseret News, April 30, 1879, retrieved on February 16, 2017,

[6] 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,

[7] Ouida Blanthorn, comp., A History of Tooele County (Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1998), 154-158.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources

Ovando James Hollister, The Resources and Attractions of the Territory of Utah (Omaha: Omaha Republican Publishing House, 1879), accessed March 29, 2017,

“The Infamous Proceedings against Dr. Clinton,” Deseret News, April 30, 1879, retrieved on February 16, 2017,

Marcus E. Jones, Resources and Attractions of Salt Lake City (Salt Lake City: Salt Lake Real Estate Board, 1889), accessed on March 29, 2017,

Secondary Sources

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 [1949].)

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.)

Ouida Blanthorn, comp., A History of Tooele County (Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1998.)