I had driven past these ruins (?) at least two dozen times over the last several years…and finally made the stop on my next to last trip before moving out of the state. The third and fourth images are from a second set of buildings just a little further down the road….
There were a couple of out-buildings, corrals, and a stable further up the hill and toward the left of these first two images.
These two building didn’t appear to be as old as the ones in first two photos…there were more “modern” pieces of junk and rubber-wheeled trailer parts on the property.
There was even a cement-stooled outhouse with a plastic seat about 20-30 yards uphill from the buildings. I hope there was also a cement septic tank to prevent the contents from leaching downhill toward the houses…if that’s what they were.
And lastly, here’s a color rendition of the first photo in the set. It was a pretty, mid-May afternoon in middle Utah, about six miles (or 15?) south of Panguitch, just off of Highway 89….
A relic from another time, found in Scofield, Utah.
Fireworks are legal in Utah…and people are allowed to shoot them off three days before the holiday and three days afterwards…and if the Fourth of July isn’t enough, the locals have another state holiday called “Pioneer Day” that falls on July 24th…with more fireworks three days before and after…and it sounds like Beirut…or a deep-summer Friday night on the south side of Phoenix happening all over again in my backyard…..
This is the last of five images in the Homestead series…each photograph was taken from a different perspective and processed with a different finish. To view the other four photos, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and then click on “Homestead Series” under the Categories list.
It might be the color, but this rendering strikes me more as an abandoned dwelling…maybe it’s because the mountains and trees that were visible in the other versions are missing and there is a feeling of derelict solitude here…I’m not sure…. This is the fourth of five images in the Homestead series…to see the other photographs, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Homestead Series under the Categories icon.
This is the third of five images in the Homestead series…different images of the same abandoned buildings on a property located a few miles north of the Salt Lake City airport. If you look through the trees on the left side of the photograph, and immediately above the second fence post from the left, you can see the air-traffic control tower…and the mountains in the background are the extreme northern end of the Oquirrh Mountains, the range that forms the western boundary of the Salt Lake Valley. To provide a bit more of a location reference, the Great Salt Lake is a few miles to the back and right of the image…. To see the other photographs in the Homestead series, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Homestead Series under the Categories icon.
This is the second image in the “Homestead” series, a collection of photographs of a particular setting, taken from slightly different perspectives and with various post-processing finishes that I have effected with Picasa. You can view the first/original photo by clicking here if you’d like to refresh your memory or have an immediate comparison for this black and white rendering…. Or, to see all of the photographs in the Homestead Series, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Homestead Series under the Categories icon.
This was the first of five images in the Homestead series…to see all of the photographs in the collection, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Homestead Series under the Categories icon.
Those were the words that I typed into Google when I returned from my first hike to this end of the Little Cottonwood Canyon trail and found these ruins. The below photo is from that first hike and sighting of the ruins…taken in November, 2010 (take note the arch over the window-frame on the far left end of the building). I found an “ok” article on Wikipedia that talked about skiing in the canyon…and some other generic information, but nothing that addressed the ruins specifically. I then went to “images” on Google and did find some images, similar to these, but nothing that provided links to historical information…only suggestions that it was a church, evidently thought to be one because of the nice arches above the tall window frames. I think I must have found a couple/few mentions of the building being a church in some Flickr albums…. I later wrote a little story about it having been one…which you can read by clicking on this highlighted name – Ruins.
But it wasn’t a church…a beautiful building at one time, maybe/yes, full of mystery (explainable), and even charged with electricity (literally), but there wasn’t an altar or communion table, no preacher, priest, or prophet directing the administration of an almighty…the building was an electricity generating station…a power-plant made of white granite blocks that appear to have been hand-carved from boulders that had tumbled from the mountains above it….
The Columbus Consolidated Mining Company started building the generating station in October of 1903 to power the mining operations at Alta, about four to five miles upstream near the end of the canyon. The availability of electric power would allow the company to use compressed-air drilling machines, motor-driven concentrating/smelting machines, and turbine pumps to remove the ever-seeping water from workers’ tunnels so that the mining operations could continue.
Immediately to the left and out of the frame of the above photo, there used to be a bridge that crossed from the other side of the stream to the power station. The bridge was removed at some point, and until recently, hikers/adventurers could only cross the stream when the water level was sufficiently low enough to allow for rock-jumping…or wading. I say “recently” because someone has very recently installed a nice 2×6 single-board “bridge” with a miniature zip-line overhead to allow for careful crossing over one of the narrower parts of the stream.
One of my sons and I managed to cross the stream this past April (see the last two photos) when the stream was very low before the snow-melt began. The inside of the ruin was still covered in deep snow and it was difficult to discern what it might have actually been…even though we had more than a little bit of confidence that it wasn’t a church because of the power poles and apparent water pipe/chute that we could see through the broken floor.
The water pipe/chute that I mentioned above is actually located just out of frame and to the right in the above photo…it didn’t make a very interesting photo…so it’s still in its folder on my computer and not appearing here…maybe that’s a shortcoming of mine as its photographer…but it simply didn’t look very compelling…anyway…. During my explorations, I also found another three places where the underground pipe had been exposed, one on each far end of the building property, and the third on the opposite side and downstream from the ruin.
These autumn-toned images are from my first, non-snow-covered visit into the power station ruins. I had been on the trail earlier in the year and had looked into it from afar, waiting for the water level of the stream to go down again…yearning to sit there for a while so I could process what I had learned of the place and match it to what I could see in front of me…and to listen for echoes of distant voices, the quiet rushing of water beneath my feet…and the fleeting sounds of whirring motors.
About a mile upstream from the ruins, there is currently a camping area that has the name of “Tanners Flat.” This was once a staging/holding area for ore that had been brought down from the various mines that were higher in the canyon. Over the years, there were also lumber mills, hotels, a smelter operation, an aerial tramway station, telegraph station, and even homes built in the area…all gone now, of course. The name of the present-day campground is all that is left of the location that was once known as “Tannersville.”
I provided all of that info above to simply say that there was a dam built on the stream at Tanners Flat. The water was diverted into 22-inch pipes that traveled about 4,500 feet downstream and was shot into the power station to turn the waterwheels, which, in turn, powered the generators that sent their electricity back upstream to the mines, boarding-houses, businesses, residences, etc., in the Alta area. I haven’t seen it yet, but I understand that there are also remains of the retaining wall of the breached dam…somewhere along the southwest corner of the campground…which probably won’t be too difficult to locate.
I don’t know that I’ve mentioned it elsewhere, but if you’re able to access a map that shows details of Little Cottonwood Canyon, the power station is located approximately halfway between Hogum Fork and Maybird Gulch…on the south side of the stream.
You can see that the arch of the window-frame is missing in the above and below photos (as noted in the very first photograph above, taken in November, 2010)…and you can see that it is also missing in the next to last shot, which I took in November, 2011…so it was either removed or had fallen on its own during the intervening year.
If you ever come across a copy of Charles L. Keller’s book, The Lady in the Ore Bucket, first printed in 2001, you can see the author’s photograph of the ruins (Figure 35) in which this wall, that is now missing its window arch, is largely intact from one end of the building to the other, from the ground to over the tops of the windows…and the east end of the building, which is the far right end in the above photo, is nearly as complete as the front wall is on the other end of the building. For clarification/orientation, the largest intact portion of the structure is the west end (the “front” with the complete doorway and two complete window frames). The building is essentially parallel to the stream, which runs from east to west, and lies on the southern side of the stream.
I mentioned above that construction of the power station began in October, 1903. As with many other pursuits in life, there were delays in the completion of the project, but it was finally finished, and electricity was finally produced and sent up to Alta on the evening of July 4, 1904. Because of an increasing demand for power up in the mining district, a second generator was installed in late 1905. In 1913, the Columbus Consolidated power station was made a subsidiary of the Wasatch Power Company, which was then merged into the Utah Power and Light Company sometime in 1929.
As the mining endeavors became less fruitful in the Alta area, and as electricity-producing technology advanced, there became less of a need for the plant here in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The precise date that the switch was turned off on the Columbus Consolidated power station has been lost to the passing of time, but it is believed to have occurred sometime in the early 1940s.
Yes, that is a look of wonder on my son’s face in the above photo…can’t help but smile out there….
I hope you’ve enjoyed the trip back into the history of the Little Cottonwood Canyon ruins. If you’re ever in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA and want to take a relatively easy, six-mile hike (round-trip), find the Temple Quarry Nature Trail near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon. The trail-head for the Little Cottonwood Canyon trail is at the far/east end of the quarry’s parking lot. Have a nice hike!
***Please note that all of the historical information provided above was obtained from Charles L. Keller’s book, The Lady in the Ore Bucket. I was introduced to the book by Knick Knickerbocker of the Wasatch Mountain Club. He shared the information about the book during a conversation that we had on a rainy Sunday afternoon while hiking down the Days Fork trail in Big Cottonwood Canyon.
The Sister Lakes are situated near the end of a drainage or tributary canyon that is referred to as “Mill B South” in Big Cottonwood Canyon, just east of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. The canyon is one of three prominent canyons in the Wasatch Mountains that provide the eastern boundary of the Salt Lake Valley…and all of the canyons are part of the Wasatch National Forest.
On a technical note, all of the photographs in the post were taken between about 10:00 and 12:30 on two bright, sunny days that were about two weeks apart. I don’t have any filters for my camera, so you’ll notice that most of the clouds are a bit over-exposed. I had thought that there was an adjustment to +/- the exposures, but…I was mistaken. At any rate, I processed each of the photos with Picasa in an attempt to lessen the effect of the harsh light, sharpen the images, and to bring the colors back to what they were when I saw them that morning…and as you’ll see, also gave one or two of them a different finish. I hope you enjoy them.
The below image is of Sundial Peak over Lake Blanche….
The drainage has had this name since 1855 when construction of the saw mill was undertaken. It is my understanding that this mill, and other mills so named with letters of the alphabet, was initially owned by the Big Cottonwood Lumber Company…which was owned by one of Brigham Young’s sons and a few other people. As each mill was built in the canyon, it was given the next letter in the alphabet…but that doesn’t mean that they proceeded in alphabetical order as they progressed upwards in the canyon. The image in the below photo is from just left of Sundial Peak…I suppose that would be to the east.
If anyone is interested enough to search for Big Cottonwood Canyon on Google Earth, you will be able to find Mill B South on the right-hand side of the very distinct “S” in the road that is about 4-5 miles up into the canyon.
If you find that “S” in the road, just to the right of it will be a parking lot…on the upper (east) side of the parking lot, you will find the trailhead for Lake Blanche. On the lower (west) side, you will find the trailhead for Broads Fork…which you might remember from two posts back in July. The area in the below photo is to the right, or west, of Sundial Peak…and that little hump you can see near the middle is actually Dromedary Peak.
If you’re not familiar with the settling of the Salt Lake City area, I’ll provide very briefly that Brigham Young and his Mormon followers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in roughly July, 1847. I say roughly, because some folks arrived shortly before he did and many others continued to arrive for years afterward…from all parts of the country…and many parts of the globe.
The below photo shows the area a little more to the right of Dromedary Peak, and from a different perspective than the above shot. And yes, that wall is a dam that was breached after several years of the lake(s) being used as reservoirs for the Salt Lake Valley’s water supply. More on that subject in a bit….
After the pioneers and other settlers ravaged the forests in Millcreek Canyon, which is much closer to the early city center, they moved south and into Big Cottonwood Canyon to harvest what they might of the ancient forest that lived there, untouched by anything other than Nature’s hand. Some of the journals and notes from those loggers and saw-mill operators document pine and fir trees with diameters of three and four, and up to six feet across…huge trees.
If you’d like some perspective with the below photo, there are two people close to that igloo-shaped rock that is about 1/3 of the way up from the lower left corner…and again, this is the area to the left of Sundial Peak.
So…the area at the end of the Mill B South drainage has been called Hidden Valley…and in that valley are three lakes (referred to as the Three Sisters), Lake Blanche, Lake Florence, and Lake Lillian. The first lake that you come to at the end of approximately three miles of hiking is L. Blanche…and a few more minutes of hiking will take you to the other two lakes that I will feature in the next two posts in this series. The Hidden Valley has been a favored recreational hiking area since at least the 1880s. Two artist friends who frequented the area named L. Blanche after a mutual friend and the other two lakes after their daughters.
By the way, all of the historical information provided in this and the next two posts can be found in Charles L. Keller’s book, The Lady in the Ore Bucket.
The above and below photos were taken from the far side of the lake, from the shoreline just inside of the wall by the dam.
You have no doubt noticed the wall/dam in the fifth and ninth photos…and will see additional dams in photos for the other lakes that will be featured in this series. In 1905, the Brown and Sanford Irrigation Company applied to the US Forest Service to appropriate a certain amount of water from the drainage stream in Mill B South Fork. It took three years for the approval to be granted and another two years for the dam to be completed. Two years later, the company applied to raise the wall and double the storage capacity of the reservoir…. Evidently, this was quite an undertaking and the company had to apply to the forest service officials repeatedly to grant more and more time to complete the project. When the irrigation company had exhausted the time that the official could legally grant, they had to bring the issue to federal court…twice, each time being granted another four years’ time to complete the project. Finally, in 1934, the dam was finished.
Before the original wall/dam was built, when the snow-melt waters overwhelmed the natural holding capacity of the lake’s basin, the water spilled from its edges and eventually found its way into the stream that leads down the drainage and into the larger Big Cottonwood Canyon Stream. When the dam was being built, the engineers provided a spillway course that led from L. Blanche to L. Florence, and then to L. Lillian…that caused each lake/reservoir to be filled before the excess was directed into the drainage that led down the canyon. Over the years, Salt Lake City purchased the water rights from the federal government…and eventually the reservoirs were no longer needed to store surplus waters…and the dams were breached…that was in 1972.
My son actually made this next photo (below) with his cell-phone….
And just for fun, the next two photos are from July of 2011…they show a water level that is much higher than this year, due to record snow-fall in the mountains during the winter of 2010-2011.
Next in the series is Lake Florence…maybe you’ve seen enough of Sundial Peak by now….