Monday, June 15, 2009

Geneva Steel Mill

A drive through Utah County in my childhood always presented some interesting landmarks.

One of the things I remember vividly were the pea viners that would be brought in to help with the harvest of peas.

Now days they are on wheels

In those years there were a lot of peas raised in Utah County in addition to Sugar Beets. In the early part of summer they would bring in these big harvesters to help with the peas and they would park them on the side of the fields because they were not on wheels and mobile and then they would strip the pea vines from the fields and feed them through the pea viners and out would come the peas all ready to use.

Sugar Beet Harvesters we used to pull

The other thing that was always there was Geneva Steel. Even when there was no freeway and we drove on highway 89/91 Geneva was still visible. Once the freeway was finished and in use Geneva became even more prominent as a landmark.
Back in 1941 the second world war was raging in Europe and also in Asia and the islands of the Pacific going south from Japan. Someone must have thought we would be engaged in the war because the government decided we needed another steel mill farther inland in case of an invasion like from the Japanese. About that same time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

That prompted the building a steel mill in Utah Valley right there in the little town of Vineyard. Construction went from November 1941 to December 1944 and with it's completion it was the largest and the only full service steel mill west of the Mississippi and it was put into operation.

Geneva being constructed

This Utah Valley area was chosen because of being somewhat inland and harder to attack but also because of the close proximity to needed resources such as coal, iron ore, a closeness to good rail connections, those elements were needed to make it a viable operation.

The name Geneva was taken from a swimming resort that used to be on Utah Lake right close to the site of the steel mill. The Geneva Resort was said to be the nicest resort in the area and used to draw good crowds in the days when it existed.

Now it's all gone! Both the Resort and the Steel Mill.

The Building with the Furnaces used to sit right here!
The right side of the tracks was all buildings and the new front runner track will be on the left side

This is all that is left and I think they are processing slag!

Because of problems and competition in the industry Geneva had problems and in 1991 operations ceased and then went into bankruptcy and then the plant was sold off through the bankruptcy court. The land has been bought and development and clean up are still in process.
The face of the area has changed greatly and that landmark that could be seen from the freeway is just an empty field.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Camp Floyd and more

Tuesday was a beautiful day, scattered clouds with intermittent rain showers and sunshine kept the temperature in a very nice range, cool but not enough to require a jacket.

Because it was such a nice day I decided to take a drive out west to Fairfield and just look around for a little while.  

I was out in Fairfield last week but at the time I was there were several bus loads of school kids there also. They had come to see the sites like the old Fairfield Schoolhouse and the Stagecoach Inn and such. Because of the confusion I did not do much last week so I went back to get some more pictures.
The Fairfield Schoolhouse is interesting. It is a very typical one room schoolhouse that was built in 1898 to educate the children in the area.

Somewhere I read or heard that the building of the schoolhouse had some involvement with Utah becoming a state, but not sure where.

I am not sure how many kids there was in the area back in 1898 but I don't think it would have been a great number as Camp Floyd or Fort Crittenden as it was later called, was long gone by that time.

The building is rather neat and they have a number of activities that take place at the old school, like weddings, a Valentines Day dance, etc.

Along about 1856-1857 there were many rumors about a Mormon uprising that were circulating aroung Washington D.C. The Mormons had been driven out of the East by the persecution they had endured and they went west finally settling in the Great Salt Lake Basin in 1847.

Then 10 years later there were rumors of a Mormon uprising in the West.

President Buchanan sent an army detachment of 3500 men under the command of Gen. Albert S. Johnston to quell the rebellion. A detachment of that size represented nearly one third of the US Army at that time.

When the army arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley in June of 1858 they found no rebellion or anything close to it and so they went south and west of Salt Lake City to Cedar Valley to set up camp. They found a spring fed stream and set up camp on the south side of the stream, Fairfield was on the north side of the stream.

They picked their spot and then proceeded to build a camp and by November of 1858 they had constructed 400 buildings. The construction was of adobe because there was very little lumber to be had.

At that time Camp Floyd, as it was named for Secretary of War John B. Floyd, was the largest single concentration of troops in the United States.

But then in addition to the army there were roughly 3500 camp followers who moved to Fairfield. People like gamblers, saloon keepers, ladies of the night, etc., those who follow the army camps.

Fairfield became the third largest city in the state, of course Utah was not a state at that time. Fairfield was the third largest city in the Territory. Another modification though, Fairfield was Frogtown at that time. When it was first settled in 1855 by the Carson brothers it was named Frogtown and the name didn't change until after Johnston's Army left in 1861 when the Army was recalled to the East because of the outbreak of the Civil War.

With no rebellion that left the army with just routine garrison duty and protecting stagecoach and Pony Express routes.

Secretary of War Floyd resigned in December of 1860 because he was a southern supporter and Camp Floyd was renamed Fort Crittenden.

However, Fort Crittenden was abandoned in July of 1861. The buildings and equipment were sold, destroyed, abandoned or carted off for building materials. Within two months after the Army's leaving only 18 families remained in Fairfield.

The street in front of the Stagecoach Inn was once called saloon street and there were 17 Saloons along that street.

The Stagecoach Inn is still there and has been restored. The Pony Express operated from April 1860 to October 1861 and the route went through Fairfield and the Stagecoach Inn was a stop for the riders

The Old Camp Floyd Cemetary is still there also.

There are 84 headstones in the cemetary at present but I was told that after the army left in the years following many of the soldiers who were buried there were taken up by their families and moved to where the families were from.

There are no cemetary records available so it is not certain how many and who was actually buried there or where in the cemetary.