Sunday, August 29, 2010

Porter's Place

Orrin Porter Rockwell is a well known character in Utah and Mormon history.  He joined the LDS Church in the early days and was a very close friend to Joseph Smith the church's founder.  He was Joseph Smith's bodyguard and assumed those same duties for Brigham Young after Joseph Smith's death.

Porter Rockwell migrated west with the church and was a deputy US Marshal in the Utah Territory and had the reputation of never bringing prisoners back alive.  He did say that he never killed anyone who didn't need killing tough.

He settled in Lehi, Utah, and I have been told he had a Livery Stable on Main Street.  He also had the Hot Springs Brewery and Hotel at a site near the point of the mountain.

Orrin Porter Rockwell's presence is still here with us though.  He sits on the point of the mountain at the Porter Rockwell Business Park just off the freeway where he waves to all the passers by, and Lehi's Main Street still sports a restaurant bearing his name, Porter's Place and it is a place that warrants a visit or two or more.

The restaurant is owned by descendants of Porter Rockwell and they have a varied menu, but some very good steaks.  The atmosphere is very special though.  It is reminiscent of those days in which Porter lives and the place is filled with items and mementos from that era.

It is well worth the effort to visit.

Besides the Steaks are Good!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Granite Quarry for the Salt Lake Temple

In 1860 the Granite Quarry in Little Cottonwood started operation.  Construction of the Salt Lake Temple had begun with the laying of the cornerstones for the foundation in 1853 but in 1857 with the coming of Johnston's Army the foundation of Red Butte Sandstone was covered and all activity at the site hidden.

Plans called for the foundation to be of sandstone and the walls to be build of Granite, however after the Army left in 1861 and the foundation uncovered it was found to be defective.  So it was decided to tear out the  sandstone foundation and replace it with Granite.  

The Quarry operations had started just the year before and were working very hard to provide the Granite to build with.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lake Bonneville

In the distant past Lake Bonneville covered a good sized part of Utah.  It also extended west into part of what is now Nevada and also north into what is now Idaho.  It is said to have been over a thousand feet in depth and was about the size of Lake Michigan.

There were no outlets for this lake and so it kept rising until the water level reached over 5000 feet in elevation and was able to breach a place called Red Rock Pass in Idaho where it began to flow down into the Snake River.

However the water quickly eroded nearly 400 feet of elevation from Red Rock Pass and caused much devastation and flooding in the area heading for the Snake River.  It also caused the level of the water in the lake to drop drastically.

That drop and a diminished flow of water into the lake caused it to shrink over several thousand years.  Because of the drop in water level there was no more outlet and the water just evaporated.  The lake shrank and because it was from evaporation the salinity of that water grew and grew and grew and grew.

Salt and chemicals that came into the lake from the streams were left behind with the evaporation that was taking place.  As the waters evaporated and the lake shrank the concentration of salt and chemicals became stronger and left deposits of salt on the areas where the lake had once been.

These deposits are still there in the form of flats and if you drive west from Salt Lake City on I-80 and look to the north it is possible to see these stretches of white salt, perfectly level, going for miles and miles.  Nothing grows, no plants, no grass, no trees just white salt.

But the demise of Lake Bonneville has left remnants to remind us that it was here.  The Great Salt Lake is a very definite mark that is still here and has been a source of wonder for years.  Utah Lake further south is another remnant of that once great lake.

And the salt flats that stretch for so many miles to the west, all the way to the Bonneville Raceway where so many come to see who can go the fastest and possibly be crowned as the fastest driver on this earth.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Salt Lake Temple - A Monument in Stone

In the latter part of July of 1847 the first group of pioneers arrived in this the Great Salt Lake Basin.  Due to the fact that it was late in the season and they would have to sustain themselves through the winter, that was just a few months away, work started immediately to get crops planted.  Also building of shelters was started to help sustain themselves in the coming months.

Even though there was an urgent need for the work of building shelters and planting crops on July 28, 1847, Brigham Young selected a 40 acre site for the Temple to be built on and from that site the city was to be laid out perfectly square, north, south, east and west.  The Temple site was later reduced to 10 acres and now sits at the center of Salt Lake City.

Truman O. Angell was chosen as the architect in 1852 and the ground breaking for the new Temple was in 1853.  The corner stones were laid for the Temple on April 6, 1853.

By the end of June of 1855 the foundation of Red Butte sandstone was nearly complete but troubles with crops and failures required most of the workmen to be pulled from the project.