Salt Lake City, UT, Part III: Emigration Canyon
After we left the Bingham Canyon Mine, we drove about an hour over the the eastern side of Salt Lake City to Emigration Canyon. As we mentioned in our last post, Emigration Canyon was the place where Brigham Young and the first Mormon pioneers entered Salt Lake Valley.
We had two reasons for going to Emigration Canyon. First, it is the location of This is the Place Heritage Park, which commemorates early pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley. Second, it is the home of Ruth's Diner which was featured on the Food Network program Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. It took us longer to get to Emigration Canyon than we thought, and it was after 1:00 PM. We were very hungry, so we went to Ruth's first. The photo below shows the outside of Ruth's Diner.
In 1930, she opened Ruth's Hamburgers in the downtown area. After the building where she rented space for her hamburger shop was sold and demolished, Ruth bought an old Salt Lake City trolley car, moved it up to Emigration Canyon, and reopened her restaurant in 1949. The original trolley car is still part of the restaurant. It is the windowed section behind the center umbrella in the photo above.
Ruth was very independent, and she built an apartment off the back of the diner where she lived alone with her Chihuahua dogs for almost 40 years. The photo below shows Ruth with one of her dogs. You can tell she was a no-nonsense woman. Her dogs were reportedly pretty feisty, too.
Ruth's became a favorite stop in the 1950s and 60s for frat boys from the University of Utah looking for a cold beer and local color. Ruth didn't care much for regulations and didn't bother to check IDs.
Ruth sold the diner to one of those frat boys back in 1977, and she lived out her days in a duplex behind the diner. The diner was sold to its current owners, Tracy and Erik Nelson, in 2001.
Renovations to the diner have just been completed, and although the inside is very nice, we chose to eat out back on the patio. If you check the menu under the Ruth's Diner link above you will see there have been some upgrades over the years, not only to the diner itself, but also to the menu. Margery had a Caprese sandwich, which is fresh mozzarella cheese, caramelized balsamic red onions, roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, and pesto mayonnaise on toasted pesto focaccia. Paul had a pulled pork barbecue sandwich. The pork was very smoky, and the sauce was thick and sweet. Yum!
Ruth's "Mile High" biscuits are also served with the sandwiches. They are truly the tallest biscuits we have ever seen. They are also so rich they almost don't need butter. We had them with homemade strawberry jam.
Normally, we wouldn't have had dessert after such a big lunch, but Ruth's is famous for chocolate pudding. This isn't your mama's pudding out of a box. It's made from scratch and it's rich, smooth and chocolaty.
With our bellies full, we drove a short distance down the canyon to This is the Place Heritage Park. As the story goes, Brigham Young was very ill with a case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and was riding in the back of a wagon. After coming down the canyon, Brigham Young proclaimed, "This is the place" after seeing Salt Lake Valley.
The LDS Church was founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1830 in western New York. In 1931, Smith moved the church to Ohio, then to Missouri, and later to Illinois. When Joseph Smith was arrested and subsequently killed by a mob in 1844, Brigham Young assumed control of the LDS Church. When conflicts between Illinois residents and LDS followers continued, Brigham Young led his followers to Utah in 1847.
In 1947, on the 100th anniversary of Brigham Young's entry into the valley, This is the Place Monument was dedicated. Although the monument was created primarily to commemorate the arrival of the first Mormon pioneers, other pioneers and explorers such as Benjamin Bonneville (U. S. Army officer, trapper), Jim Bridger (mountain man, trapper), John Fremont (U. S. Army officer, explorer), Silvestre Vélez de Escalante (18th century Franciscan missionary and Spanish explorer) are also honored.
A group of private citizens bought the land surrounding the monument and donated it to the state. In 1959, a visitor center was built near the monument. Popularity of the monument led the state to begin planning a more elaborate living history museum in 1971. The state purchased additional land and began moving, restoring and reconstructing historic pioneer buildings on the site.
The first building moved to the park in 1971 and restored was Brigham Young's Forest Farmhouse. The house, which was originally located in the southern part of Salt Lake City, was not used as a residence, but was used to entertain visiting dignitaries and guests. The farm also served as a research facility to experiment with various crops.
There are now 30 or 40 historic structures in the park that have been relocated or reconstructed. These include log cabins, frame homes, adobe homes, shops, meeting halls, and stores. The photo below shows two of the log cabins.
The cabins were typically one room - cooking and living on one side, and sleeping on the other - with a sleeping loft above for the kids. The next photo shows the bedroom side of one of the cabins.
One of the more elaborate homes was the reproduction of the Heber C. Kimball house. The original house was located on a 10-acre lot at the edge of Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Heber C. Kimball was one of the early leaders of the LDS Church. The house needed to be large because some sources say Heber had over 39 wives.
The house in the photo below is the Fairbanks house, which was relocated from Payson, UT. Payson is located south of Salt Lake City, and Brigham Young used to stay with Fairbanks when he was on his way to visit some of the southern Mormon communities. The house is fairly large, and the Fairbanks were most likely an upper middle class family.
We walked most of the main streets and looked into a number of the buildings, but it was getting late. We were getting tired, so we called it a day and headed back to the car. On our way out of the park, we stopped at another monument to the Pony Express. Salt Lake City was a major city on the Pony express route.
The Pony Express was founded in April, 1860, as a means of delivering mail rapidly from St. Joseph, MO, to Sacramento, CA. By changing tired horses for fresh ones at stations placed about 10 miles apart along the 2,000-mile route, riders could cover 75 to 100 miles a day. After traveling that distance at a full gallop, the riders would also stop to rest. When one rider stopped, another would take over so the mail could travel both day and night. Mail could be delivered from the East Coast to the West coast in about 10 days using the Pony Express. The Pony Express only operated for about 18 months until October, 1861, when the telegraph made it obsolete.
Back at the motor home we began planning our next sightseeing adventure. There's lots more to see around salt Lake City, so stay tuned.