ethel’s words

Click your browser’s “Back” button to return to SmashingIkons

THE LOVELY VALLEY OF THE GREAT SALT LAKE
(And The Wasatch Front)

In the 1930s, there was swamp at what is now called 400 West at Thirteenth South, and westward from there. I gathered cattails there; colored lines lengthwise on them, then twisted them to make spirals.

At the north side of Thirteenth South, there was an open canal that carried water to the Jordan River, a little beyond what is now called 900 West. Sometime in the Thirties, the canal was covered over with concrete--probably eight feet wide--on which I walked to then-South Junior High School (later Lincoln) at Thirteenth South and State. The water table was so high, and spring flooding so frequent, that houses as far north as Eighth South and east to Fifth East were built without basements.

When the European Mormon pioneers arrived, there was only one tree in the valley. (A monument marks the place on Sixth East; some nutty vandal removed the dry remnant from the open enclosure.) Trees do not grow in swamps in northern latitudes, but the Oquirrhs were heavily wooded; easily accessible trees invited super exploitation. Ezra Taft harvested the trees; today we would say “clear-cut”. He hauled them down to a place still called (well, at least to a few years ago and maybe still) “E.T.’s Point”. From there the logs were rafted away to the world of commerce.

From the towering Wasatch Mountains on the east, water gushed in numerous sparkling, resounding streams. Many are still with us, some open to the sun, blessing our valley and pleasing eye and ear and, yes, nose.

The pioneers quickly conquered the waters, channeling the creeks so that swamps receded and water was controllable for agriculture. When I was a kid in school, we were taught that “the Pioneers invented irrigation”. I hope that such blatant nonsense has been quelled by knowledge and intelligence.

The entire “Wasatch Front”, a streak down the middle of Utah, is unbelievably fertile and beautiful. It is a tragedy that the incredible fragrant peach orchards at the southering middle, and the gorgeous Chinese Apricot orchards at the northering end, have been covered over, in wanton, stupid, undirected money-grubbing, with big houses for recklessly large families, and asphalt. And more asphalt.

Ethel C. Hale