John Muir in Utah

© 2009 Utah Humanities Council

The Story:

In 1877, naturalist and future Sierra Club founder John Muir found himself in Salt Lake City, working as a correspondent for the San Francisco Evening Bulletin.  Not surprisingly, Muir was attracted to the city’s greenery and irrigation system.  Salt Lake was a “city of lilacs and tulips.”  “Nowhere have I seen them in greater perfection,” he effused.  “Scarce a home, however obscure, is without them.”  Of the city’s system for distributing water, Muir was less upbeat.  As City Creek entered town, he wrote, its water was drawn off to feed irrigation canals, which were “all pure and sparkling in the upper streets, but, as they are used to some extent as sewers, they soon manifest the consequence of contact with civilization, though the speed of their flow prevents their becoming offensive.”

Muir was especially dazzled by the Great Salt Lake and Oquirrh Mountains west of the city.  “When the north wind blows,” the naturalist noted, bathing in the lake “is a glorious baptism, for then it is all wildly awake with waves, looking like a prairie in snowy crystal foam.”  Of a hike through the Oquirrhs he wrote effusively: “I found many delightful seclusions—moist nooks at the foot of cliffs, and lilies in every one of them, not growing close together like daisies, but well apart, with plenty of room for their bells to swing free and ring … Descending the mountain, I followed the windings of the main central glen on the north, gathering specimens of the cones and sprays of the evergreens, and most of the other new plants I had met; but the lilies formed the crowning glory of my bouquet—the grandest I had carried in many a day.  I reached the hotel on the lake about dusk with all my fresh riches, and my first mountain ramble in Utah was accomplished.”


See John Muir, “The City of the Saints,” “Bathing in Salt Lake,” and “Mormon Lilies,” in Steep Trails (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1994); and Donald Worster, A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 227-232.


Book About Utah Valley Wins Another Prize

Jared Farmer, author of On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape, can now add another honor to his growing list of prizes: an American Association for State and Local History Award of Merit. 

You can see a description of Farmer’s book, posted on the Beehive Archive blog after Farmer was honored with the Francis Parkman Prize, here.

Salt Lake’s Odd Fellows Hall is on the Move!

Salt Lake City’s Odd Fellows Hall, with its all-seeing eye perched above the main door,  traditionally has not attracted much public attention, at least when compared to some of the city’s more high-profile historic buildings (such as the Utah State Capitol).  That trend, however, has changed, if only temporarily.  (See news stories here and here.)

Beginning in April, workers from Layton Construction began rotating the hall to get it ready for a move across the street  Photos and time-lapse videos of the move can be seen here and here.

The biggest move is still to come.  Next week, on Tuesday, June 23rd, the building will begin its slow roll across Market Street at 8:00 am.   Three days later, on Friday, the bullding will be rotated again and then moved into its final location.


© 2009 Utah Humanities Council

The Story:

Born near the Bear Ears in extreme southeastern Utah, the man known to whites as Manuelito and to the Navajo or Diné as Man of Dark Plants Emerging and Holy Boy became one of the last Diné chiefs to resist white territorial incursions onto his people’s traditional lands. Navajos clashed with US Army troops in the Four Corners region as early as the 1850s, but it wasn’t until General James Carleton arrived in Navajo country in 1862 that the Diné found themselves engulfed in full-scale warfare with the US government.

Carleton and other whites wanted Diné lands for their minerals, and hatched a plan to remove the Navajos to the Bosque Redondo in northwestern New Mexico. The job of removal went to legendary Indian fighter Kit Carson, whose scorched earth policy in Navajoland eventually led more than 8,000 Diné to take the punishing Long Walk to the bosque. A few leaders like Manuelito, however, refused to be removed from their homeland and continued to resist Carleton’s soldiers. Hoping to quash the resistance, the general threatened to kill the Navajo headman and have his family enslaved. Soon men from Manuelito’s band began filtering into army posts to surrender, though their chief continued the struggle. Only when Utes fighting for Carleton dispersed Manuelito’s few remaining stalwarts, and the holdouts were close to starvation, did the Man of Dark Plants Emerging finally surrender at Fort Wingate. The year was 1866.


See Nancy Maryboy and David Begay. “The Navajos,” in The History of Utah’s Indian Tribes, ed. Forrest Cuch (Salt Lake City: Utah Division of Indian Affairs and Utah State Division of History, 2000); Robert S. McPherson, Navajo Land, Navajo Culture: The Utah Experience in the Twentieth Century (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001), 11-14; Dee Brown, Bury My Heart and Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1970), 14-36.

Holy Trinity Church

© 2006 Utah Humanities Council

The Story:

In 1905, Utah’s first Eastern Orthodox church—Holy Trinity—was dedicated. The church, which fronted 4th South, became the center of spiritual life for many eastern and southern Europeans who lived in Salt Lake City and around the Intermountain West. But it was Utah’s Greek community that was the driving force behind the construction and consecration of the church.

Most of Utah’s early Greek settlers were men who felt the duty to provide for their families, leaving poverty-stricken Greece in the hopes of finding temporary jobs in America. Labor agents for railroads and western mining companies preyed on these desperate men, luring them away to the Intermountain West from ports like New York and San Francisco almost as soon as they arrived. Typically, the agent would first charge the new immigrant an excessively steep fee to place him in a job, and then collect a one-dollar kickback from each month’s salary. One particularly repugnant labor agent, Leonidas Skliris, nicknamed the “Tsar of the Greeks,” lived in an opulent apartment in the Hotel Utah and publicly flaunted his diamond jewelry, bought with money he collected from poor immigrant workers.

In the initial years of Greek immigration to Utah, few women came with their husbands and fathers. In fact, in 1910, fewer than ten Greek women lived in the state. Over time, though, Greek men began staying longer in America, and started bringing family members to their ethnic neighborhood on Salt Lake’s west side. Holy Trinity soon became a place for family worship where children were baptized, young men and women were married, and whole families were given the sacraments. Eventually, the community outgrew the old church and a new one had to be built. The new church—also named Holy Trinity—still stands on the corner of 3rd West and 3rd South.


See Helen Papanikolas, Toil and Rage in a New Land: The Greek Immigrants in Utah (Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1970); Thomas G. Alexander, Utah: The Right Place 2d ed. (Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, 2003), 239-240; and Constantine J. Skedros, 100 Years of Faith and Fervor: A History of the Greek Orthodox Church Community of Greater Salt Lake City, Utah 1905-2005 (Salt Lake City, UT: The Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake, 2005). Also see Papanikolas’s entry on Greek immigrants to Utah in the online Utah History Encyclopedia at

Utah’s Latest Listings on the National Register of Historic Places

The Crockett House (Logan), the Forest Dale Historic District (Salt Lake City) , and the Utah-Idaho Sugar Factory (West Jordan) are Utah’s newest additions to the National Register of Historic Places.  For more information on these historic properties, visit the Utah State History website.

The National Register of Historic Places is the federal list of properties that are historically or architecturally significant.

What’s in the Spring 2009 Utah Historical Quarterly?

For readers interested in Utah military history, check out Bob McPherson’s “Soldiering in a Corner, Living on the Fringe: Military Operations in Southeastern Utah, 1880-1890” in the latest issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly.   Bob has been writing for many years on the history of southeastern Utah and its native peoples.  His book, The Journey of Navajo Oshley (USU Press, 2000), is a must-read for those interested in understanding the everyday lives of Utah’s Navajos.

Other articles in the recent UHQ issue:

  • “The Big Washout: The 1862 Flood in Santa Clara,” By Todd M. Compton
  • “Friends at all Times: The Correspondence of Isaiah Moses Coombs and Dryden Rogers,” By Sandra Dawn Brimhall
  • “Did Prospectors See Rainbow Bridge Before 1909?” By James H. Knipmeyer

Book reviews in the recent issue of UHQ:

  • Ronald W. Walker, Richard E. Turley, Jr., and Glen E. Leonard. Massacre at Mountain Meadows: An American Tragedy, Reviewed by Melvin T. Smith
  • Shannon A. Novak. House of Mourning: A Biocultural History of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Reviewed by Richard E. Turley, Jr.
  • Stan Hoig. The Chouteaus: First Family of the Fur Trade, Reviewed by John D. Barton
  • Jay H. Buckley. William Clark Indian Diplomat, Reviewed by H. Bert Jenson

Happy reading!