November 3, 2009
As I grow older, I'm finding myself more interested in the history of places that I visit and where I live. Not so much from the academic side of things. But moreso, to understand the energy of the stories. To know what it might have been like for people living in these areas. To know more of what carries forward in an area that has often become invisible.
I currently live in Pleasant Grove, Utah. It is one of several smaller municipalities that run together in northern Utah County. Between the Wasatch mountains and Utah Lake. A more full description of Pleasant Grove is here. Here's also a bit in brief from a North Utah County Chambers of Commerce publication and perspective, highlighting points of attraction.
- incorporated in 1855, settled by Mormon pioneers
- old area of town named Little Denmark where Scandanavian descendents lived
- abundant annual strawberry crop that began celebrating Strawberry Days, the longest running celebration in the state of Utah
The Ute Indians were the first to live in this area, to the east of Utah Lake and the Jordan River. Staple food was fish, which they would dry for trading. Here's a brief overview of key points of history, cultures bumping into cultures:
- Escalante-Dominguez explorers were looking for an overland route from Santa Fe, NM to Monterey, CA when they discovered the Utes here
- Spanish claimed Utah from 1776 - 1820 but did not establish permanent settlements
- fresh-water sources in the north part of the state attracted trappers and mountain men in the beaver trade
- in March 1849 there was a dispute over missing cattle between arriving Mormon pioneers and Ute tribe. A battle occurred in which several Utes were killed. The location was called Battle Creek, and later renamed by city officials to Pleasant Grove.
A few other often noted points:
- Utah War / Establishment of Camp Floyd -- In 1858, 3,500 troops ordered by President James Buchanan to suppress a rumored rebellion. No battle was ever fought. However, the camp was established which later helped to provide protection for pioneers passing through to the west coast.
- Pony Express -- Speeded communications and delivery of mail by land. Ten days rather than eight weeks. One of 150 stops was near Lehi, about 10 miles north of Pleasant Grove.
- Transcontinental Railroad -- In 1869, Union and Central Pacific railroad companies joined to create advanced transportation. The Golden Spike featured on the Utah quarter illustrates this accomplishment. It occurred at Promontory Summit.
- Steeling Up for War -- Geneva Steel, a long time steel manufacturing facility was constructed between 1941 and 1944 with federal funds. It was intended to provide security of manufacturing to meet the needs for WWII. The plant was closed in 2001.