The Flaming Gorge Dam Power Lines: Good for Utah, or a Needless Tax Burden?

By Martin Kuprianowicz

In 1956, Congress authorized the Colorado River Storage Project, which called for the construction of four large dams: Glen Canyon Dam in Page, Arizona, Flaming Gorge Dam on the Green River in northeastern Utah, Curecanti Dam on the Gunnison River in western Colorado, and the Navajo Dam on the San Juan River in northwestern New Mexico. The plan, approved by Congress, provided a financing system which would return to the taxpayers the full cost of these dams and participating projects over an 86-year period.

The project was designed to promote irrigation and water control, but most importantly it was to provide electricity. For most of the revenue to “pay out,” the cost would come from the sale of the electric energy produced by these dams to publically-owned, consumer-owned, and privately-owned utilities. However, the public was not entirely in favor of this latest federal construction project, and a letter to the editor in the May 16, 1961, issue of The Daily Utah Chronicle labeled it as “a tremendous sum of money” which could be easily saved if only private companies were allowed to build the powerlines, and not the federal government itself.

The main purpose of this project was to provide more people with electricity. An article in the February 23, 1961, edition of The Murray Eagle headlined “Power Officials Addresses Murray Rotarians Monday” said that the development of electricity paved the way for creation and use of the thousands of devices and appliances in Utah. These powerlines, as argued by the federal power official, were a step forward for Americans and modern-day humans.

In March 1961, The Salt Lake Times reported that Rep. David S. King called upon Interior Secretary Stewart L. Udall to give congress revised budget requests, claiming that the current budget requests were not “appropriate to the plan of an all-federal transmission system,” originally endorsed by the Eisenhower Administration. At this time, the powerlines from Flaming Gorge to Vernal, Utah and the powerlines from Vernal to Colorado were already under construction, but were projected to exceed the originally proposed budget.

In June 1961, the front page of The Lehi Free Press described Lehi Mayor Harold D. Westering’s effort to gain more funds for the Flaming Gorge powerlines project, as the city council at the time was arguing that the originally proposed budget plan was not realistic to the actual costs of the project. The mayor met with congressmen in Washington DC such as Senator Moss and Congressman King, in an attempt to gain more funds for the construction of the powerlines from Flaming Gorge. The congressmen sent letters back to the mayor and other Utah officials explaining the advantage of Utah having these federal powerlines.

By September 1961, a compromise was reached on the budget plan for the construction plan of the federal powerlines, according to the front page of the September 25, 1961, issue of The Provo Daily Herald. A report ordered by interior secretary Stewart L. Udall and the Bureau of Reclamation called to “exhaust every possible effort” to work in cooperation with private utilities and to report back on the federal projects progress by February 15, 1962.

Construction of the Flaming Gorge Dam was successfully completed on August 17, 1964. Without the building of these federal powerlines, Utah may not have developed as swiftly as it has. The Salt Lake Valley is one of the most developed and modernized regions in Utah, and this is greatly due to the consistent and powerful flow of electricity to the region. Now, we are seeing a major transformation in the Salt Lake Valley as major technology companies are relocating to Utah and building headquarters here. Had the construction of the federal powerlines from the Flaming Gorge dam been postponed or never happened, the Salt Lake Valley may not be the technological, industrial, and cultural hub that it is today. It may have been playing “catch up” with surrounding states with more prevalent access to vast quantities of electrical power, and look very different today.

Martin Kuprianowicz is a senior at the University of Utah. He is majoring in communication with an emphasis in journalism and minoring in Spanish.

Primary Sources

“Contract Awarded for Generators at Flaming Gorge,” Provo Sunday Herald, January 22, 1961, 2.

“Power Official Addresses Murray Rotarians Monday,” Murray Eagle, February 23, 1961, 9.

“King Requests Udall Revise Budget for Transmission Systems,” Salt Lake Times, March 17, 1961, 3.

Johnson, T. S., Letter to The Editor: “Proper Power?” Utah Daily Chronicle, May 16, 1961, 2.

“Council Hears Mayor on Washington Trip; Takes Action on Lehi Freeway,” Lehi Free Press, June 15, 1961, 1.

Dominy, F. E., “Bureau of Reclamation Work in the Colorado River Basin,” Bureau of Reclamation, Upper Colorado River Office, June 29, 1961.

Lammi, E. W., “All-Federal Power Line Is Approved,” Provo Daily Herald, September 25, 1961, 1.

Secondary Source

Udall, Morris K. Those Glen Canyon Transmission Lines – Some Facts and Figures on a Bitter Dispute, July 1961.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gregory Crampton: U of U Professor Who Conducted Archaeological Research on Glen Canyon

By Seungwon Na

Glen Canyon, located in southeastern Utah and northern Arizona, is now a popular tourist site where millions of people visit each year to enjoy the beautiful scenery and nature: Lake Powell and the tributaries of the Colorado River. However, while tourists relish their excursion to Glen Canyon, they are not fully aware of the efforts that were put by many scholars and researchers to maintain its historical values and beauty. In fact, there is a prominent researcher whose study on Glen Canyon must be recognized: Dr. C. Gregory Crampton.

C_Gregory_Crampton-1

Dr. C. Gregory Crampton was a prominent researcher who conducted research on Glen Canyon to record its history before the construction of the dam. He died in 1995. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society.

Before Dr. Crampton joined the history faculty of University of Utah in 1945, he was already a renowned scholar for his study in Latin American countries. The Daily Utah Chronicle described the professor on November 7, 1961, as a member of “Phi Kappa Phi, scholastic honorary, and Phi Alpha Theta, national honorary society in history.” However, it was after moving to the University of Utah when he started to focus on his research in Glen Canyon. Since 1957, Dr. Crampton started to work for the National Park Service. According to a 1961 Daily Utah Chronicle article, as construction of Glen Canyon dam was expected to be completed by 1963, Dr. Crampton had to “salvage archeological, geological, and historical values in the area” before then. However, within the short amount of time, Dr. Crampton succeeded in unveiling Glen Canyon’s historical background and recording its original land formation.

The first task Dr. Crampton had was to identify the missing history of Glen Canyon before A.D 1300. Through careful excavations, he found out that the first dwellers in Glen Canyon were the Anasazi, so called ancient ones. (Ghosts of Glen Canyon, p. 1) Dr. Crampton asserted they settled in Glen Canyon around the 10th century A.D. and relied on farming and hunting for their livings. In his 1986 book Ghosts of Glen Canyon, there is a evidence of “prehistoric petroglyphs located near Hite in upper Glen Canyon.” (p.1) After staying temporarily in Glen Canyon, Dr. Crampton presumed Anasazis left the region due to a sustained drought or the appearance of hostile nomads. (Ghosts of Glen Canyon, p. 2)

Soon after analyzing the first prehistoric men to land in Glen Canyon, Dr. Crampton moved on to study people who visited Glen Canyon later. He discovered that in 1776, Spaniards Dominguez and Escalante arrived in Glen Canyon. Dr. Crampton claimed they were the first white men to land in Glen Canyon. On the Southern part of the Glen Canyon, Paiute Indians fought to preserve their territory against Navajo Indians. (Ghosts of Glen Canyon, p. 3) He also found out that during 1821-1848, Glen Canyon was used as a trade route between New Mexico and California.

Glen_Canyon_dam_and_bridge-1

Lake Powell, a reservoir on the Colorado River, was created after the construction of Glen Canyon dam in 1963. Used by permission, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Nevertheless, this was not an end to the discovery of Glen Canyon’s history. His 1986 book Ghosts of Glen Canyon tells us that in May 24, 1869, John Wesley Powell, “an American explorer and civil war veteran,” (p.7) visited the place to complete the missing portion of the map. In September 1883, the Cass Hite’s findings of gold in the region attracted many prospectors and many Mormon explorers and fur trappers visited the place. (Ghosts of Glen Canyon, p. 9)

After finishing his research about Glen Canyon, Dr. Crampton published his book Standing up Country: The Canyon Lands of Utah and Arizona in 1964. The reaction from the public was sensational as he was a pioneer to fully investigate the history of Glen Canyon and publish it as a book. The professor was also proud that he “[preserved] the history of the flooded area for future use.” (“Dr. Crampton Reviews”) According to a 1965 Daily Utah Chronicle article, in 1964, the Western Heritage Awards Commitee acknowledged his achievements and awarded him the Outstanding Western Non-fiction Book of the Year.

Dr. Crampton continued his teaching at the University of Utah and visited numerous institutions in the United States to lecture about his findings in Glen Canyon. After tremendously contributing to Utah history, he died in 1995. His students and professional associates described him as a professor with “intellectual acuteness and integrity.” (Peterson, 4) Although Dr. Crampton is not alive, his effort and dedication to inform people about Glen Canyon will be forever remembered and appreciated.

Seungwon Na is a senior at the University of Utah. He is studying communication with an emphasis in journalism.

Primary Sources

 Dr. Crampton to Tell of Glen Canyon,” Daily Utah Chronicle, October 27, 1958, 3.

Dr. Crampton to Speak on Glen Canyon History,” Daily Utah Chronicle, November 7, 1961, 1.

Dr. Crampton Reviews Chapter of Utah History,” Daily Utah Chronicle, November 8, 1961, 1.

Ex History Honorary Chief to Address Ute Students,” Daily Utah Chronicle, January 10, 1962, 3.

Dr. Crampton to Lecture Tuesday,” Daily Utah Chronicle, July 18, 1963, 1.

Canyon Country is the Subject of Beautiful New Illustrated History,” Times Independent, November 5, 1964, 10.

U of U Prof Writes History of 4-Corner ‘Standing Up Country,’” Beaver County News, November 19, 1964, 1.

Professor’s Book Lauded,” Daily Utah Chronicle, May 18, 1965, 5.

Secondary Sources

Crampton, C. Gregory. Standing Up Country: The Canyon Lands of Utah and Arizona. New York: Knopf, 1964.

Crampton, C. Gregory. Ghosts of Glen Canyon: History Beneath Lake Powell. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bonneville Books, 1986.

Peterson, Charles S. “In Memoriam: C. Gregory Crampton, 1911-95,” Utah Historical Quarterly 63, no.4 (Fall 1995): 2-6.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A World With Walls: The Creation of the Berlin Wall

By Ivana Martinez

Barriers have existed for centuries either to protect or to keep people out. They have served as historical landmarks, such as the Great Wall of China, Belfast Peace Walls, or in this instance the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall was erected on August 13, 1961, as a result of conflicting ideologies between the East and West sides of Germany. (Fishman, p. 364) It later came to symbolize the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.

Berlin_Wall_Three Men

Three men stand on a post looking out at the Berlin Wall. Photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Image is in the public domain.

In the aftermath of World War II two ideologies circulated Germany. Fishman wrote in History of Education Quarterly that the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was created in the Soviet Occupation Zone in October 1949. According to Fishman, the creation of the German Democratic Republic “was a response to the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany, i.e. West Germany, five months earlier.” (Fishman, p. 364) The escalating tensions between these two ideologies erupted in the creation of the Berlin Wall. Which was an attempt to halt immigration fleeing to the West on behalf of the German Democratic Republic. On August 27, 1961, the New York Times described the Wall from a helicopter view as “an unhealthy vein on a man’s arm.”

In the early stages of building the wall it was reported to be 25 miles long and strung with barbed wire. Once completed, according to Barksdale, the wall spread 96 miles long through the countryside and only 27 miles within Berlin. The New York Times reported on August 27, 1961, that the wall was mostly “dirty red-grey color with white splotches where Masons dropped mortar on the pavement.” The New York Times also observed that same day that “the Brandenburg Gate, once the chief crossing point between East and West, is deserted now behind its barbed wire fences.”

Closing of Border by Steffen Rehm

Closing of the border between the East and West sides of Berlin photographed at the Brandenburg Gate. The author of the photograph is Steffen Rehm. Image is in the public domain.

The impact of the wall was felt in all sections of life: work, relationships, and travel. The Berlin Wall separated families and halted almost all immediate immigration to the West. Violent confrontations between civilians and the police quickly gathered the attention of the world. The crisis in Berlin reached the crevices of local communities. The confrontations were featured in front pages articles in local newspapers in the Provo Daily Herald and the Daily Utah Chronicle.

Local coverage in Utah focus on the tensions between these two polarizing sides in Germany and the responses from prominent leaders. For example, the Provo Sunday Herald reported on October 1, 1961, that communist police had strung barbed wire around Stienstueeken an isolated village and that, “In Berlin, East German refugees yesterday sought liberty or death in a grim game of “hide-and-seek” with Communist border guards under orders to shoot to prevent them from escaping to the West.”

A few days later, the Provo Daily Herald reported on October 5, 1961, that there were two separate incidents that involved police gun fire at the border of the wall that same day. Fleming wrote about the first incident “Communist police first-fired [sic] four machine pistol shots today at a West Berlin electric worker laying a cable along the border when he wandered about the one yard into East Berlin.” The second incident involved an exchange of 40 shots. Fleming reported that occurred when, “Communist police began throwing rocks at a West Berlin police loudspeaker truck near the border area.”

Much of these violent exchanges prompted political leaders to speak out on these incidents. Mayor Willy Brandt of West Berlin had warned the Communist “to stop the shooting.”(Goldsmith) After a visit to the United States Brandt had a meeting with President John Kennedy via telephone. The Daily Utah Chronicle on October 10, 1961, reported on Brandt’s statement, “Rarely has the U.S. government committed itself so irrevocably than to the freedom of West Berlin.”

The Allies kept a close eye on Berlin watching these violent exchanges. The Provo Daily Herald observed on October 9, 1961, “There appeared to be differences among the Western powers as to the wisdom of continuing to probe for a soft spot in the Russian demands which call for abandonment of the Allied position in Berlin.”

The Berlin Wall illustrated an escalation of tension in a polarizing time in history. The wall obstructed the free flow of immigration and caused many East Germans to “plot their escapes and occasionally die in the trying.” (Newsom) These tensions are still seen today. The barriers still exist, except it’s no longer in a foreign land. The United States border has caused a similar polarizing tension between nations and citizens. Many immigrants have died in the Rio Grande attempting to flee to the United States or died of dehydration in the desert. Although the Berlin Wall has since been torn down, we still live in a divided world filled with walls.

Ivana Martinez is a junior at The University of Utah. She is majoring in communication with an emphasis in journalism.

Primary Sources

Joseph E. Fleming, “Reds String Barbed Wire Around Isolated Village,” Provo Sunday Herald, October 1, 1961, 1.

Joseph E. Fleming, “Gunfire on Border Stirs Crisis in Berlin; Mayor Brandt Heads for U.S.,” Provo Daily Herald, October 5, 1961, 1.

Phil Newsom,“Story of Human Tragedy Seen in Berlin,” Provo Daily Herald, October 5, 1961, 12.

Steward Hensley, “U.S., Allies Study Move In Berlin,Provo Daily Herald, October 9, 1961, 1.

Joseph E. Fleming, “Brandt Warns Against Concessions; Mayor Says U.S. Firm on Berlin,” Provo Daily Herald, October 9, 1961, 1.

Michael Goldsmith, “W. Berlin Mayor Brandt Warns Soviets:‘Stop The Shooting,’” Daily Utah Chronicle, October 10, 1961, 1.

Joseph E. Fleming,“Allies Say Red Mobilization In East Germany Grave Threat,Provo Daily Herald, October 10, 1961, 1.

Secondary Sources

Barksdale, Nate. “How long was the Berlin Wall?” History.com, September 1, 2018.

“Berlin Wall Built,” History.com, August 13, 2019.

Fishman, Sterling. “The Berlin Wall,” History of Education Quarterly 22, no. 3 (1982): 363-70.

Berlin Wall,” Encyclopædia Britannica, November 29, 2019.

“The Wall Marks Blotch in Berlin: Red’s 25-Mile Slash Across City Viewed From the Air,” The New York Times, August 27, 1961, 8.

 

The Legacy of Dr. Khosrow Mostofi: An Uphill Battle in Establishing the University of Utah Middle East Center

By Christian Gomez

Violence and war have become a normal part of life in the Middle East. Typically portrayed in a negative light, the Middle East is often scrutinized by people throughout the world for its differences in religious and political views. This has contributed to a general lack of understanding of the cultures, practices, and languages that exist in the Middle East.

Mostofi_Photo_1_Final-1

The Daily Utah Chronicle focuses on the accomplishments and retirement of former director and founder of the Middle East Center, Dr. Aziz S. Atiya. It also introduces Dr. Khosrow Mostofi as the new director. Photo from the July 1967 issue. Used by permission, The Daily Utah Chronicle.

The University of Utah has championed Middle Eastern studies for many years in hopes of providing opportunities to better understand the Middle East. From learning new languages to gaining an appreciation for other cultures, Middle Eastern studies at the University of Utah have provided opportunities for new perspectives and a deeper understanding of the Middle East. But, it wasn’t always this way. It took the efforts of prominent figures to establish this curriculum—people like Dr. Khosrow Mostofi.

Mostofi’s unique story began 7,000 miles away in Tehran, Iran, where he was born in 1921. He attended the University of Tehran, where he received his B.A. in English literature. His language skills were in high demand, and he taught English for the Ministry of Education at several institutions in Iran. (Bean, p. 306; Mostofi interview, p. 3)

In 1949, Mostofi immigrated to the United States. By this time, World War II had ended. But prior to leaving Tehran, he had met a U.S. officer from the Persian Gulf command. Mostofi and the officer stayed in touch after the war, and he told the officer of his plans to attend Columbia University. The officer informed him of the “cultural shock” that he would experience in New York City. Having been a student at the University of Utah, the officer suggested that Mostofi attend school in Salt Lake City—a place he had never even heard of. (Mostofi interview, pp. 3-4)

Mostofi quickly immersed himself into his graduate studies. He received a Ph.D. in Political Science four years later. Bothered by the lack of diversity in the curriculum, Mostofi proposed that three courses on the Middle East be implemented—an idea originally met with skepticism by administrators. Eventually, courses were added, and the University of Utah qualified for its first grant for the Middle East Center. (Mostofi interview, pp. 4-5)

After a two-year teaching stint at Portland State College, Mostofi returned to the University of Utah in 1960 when he was named the assistant director of the center—working alongside then-director and founder of the Middle East Center, Aziz Atiya. There were no formal degree programs and the only staff was Mostofi, Atiya, and one secretary. (Mostofi interview, pp. 6, 19)

Mostofi_Photo_2 Final-2

Dr. Sami A. Hanna, left, associate professor of languages, and Dr. Khosrow Mostofi, director of the Middle East Center, discuss their plans for the new cultural exchange program in Tunis, Tunisia. Photo from a February 1971 issue of The Daily Utah Chronicle. Used by permission.

While the addition of the Middle East Center was a step in the right direction, it wasn’t embraced by everyone. In an interview with Everett L. Cooley, Mostofi spoke about the “outright hostility in some circles” that the program was met with on campus. Some faculty felt that funding should be spent elsewhere, and not on a new, unproven program.

In 1966, Mostofi resigned his position to pursue full time teaching and research. His resignation was brief, as Atiya fell ill, and Mostofi took over. The Daily Utah Chronicle highlighted this change in its July 1967 issue, which commemorated Atiya and introduced Mostofi as the new director. (Mostofi interview, p. 18)

Mostofi introduced reforms for the center, citing a lack of performance. He reached an agreement with the U.S. Office of Education that allowed the center to host professors from Turkey, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, and Israel for three-month intervals. Mostofi improved curriculum by forming strong relations with Iran—as evidenced in the August 1966 issue of The Daily Utah Chronicle. The center’s funding increased, and graduate and undergraduate programs were approved. Seven graduate degree programs emerged for Middle East Studies: Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, Anthropology, History and Political Science. (Mostofi interview, pp. 18-20)

After receiving little support from the federal government, Mostofi secured grants from major organizations—changing the entire outlook on the Middle East Center. He also formed relationships with the public-school system, as well as the local community, beginning a “grass roots support” for the center. This was illustrated in the February 1971 issue of The Daily Utah Chronicle, when Mostofi organized a cultural exchange program for U.S. students in Tunisia. (Mostofi interview, pp. 24, 27)

In his interview with Everett L. Cooley, Mostofi made it clear what his mission had been throughout this entire process: “Changing attitudes and outlooks.” Mostofi did this by instilling the Middle East’s proud and expansive history in higher education’s curriculum. It was about shifting the misperceptions associated with the Middle East, and bringing to awareness the richness of its culture.

Mostofi etched his mark on students at the University of Utah. The April 1964 issue of The Daily Utah Chronicle drew attention to Mostofi’s efforts in bringing thousands of Persian books to the library. His prominent role in the development of the Middle East Center left a lasting impact, and it most likely wouldn’t exist today if it wasn’t for his contributions.

Mostofi_Photo_3_Final-1

The Daily Utah Chronicle highlights Dr. Khosrow Mostofi’s efforts in bringing in over 3,000 volumes of Persian books for the Intercultural Library. Photo from the August 1966 issue. Used by permission, The Daily Utah Chronicle.

Mostofi retired from the Department of Political Science in 1987, but remained a Middle East Center consultant until 1991. He was honored with the Distinguished Service Award and acknowledged as “an internationally recognized scholar of Iranian culture, history, and politics,” according to the August 1992 issue of The Daily Utah Chronicle.

Today, the Middle East Center stands strong—empowering students to enact change and become global citizens. It offers graduate and undergraduate programs that provide students with dynamic skills in language and cultural comprehension in the Middle East. For students today, the center serves as a stepping stone for potential careers in public affairs, public service, business, and several other fields. Opportunities now exist for students to participate in conferences, workshops, and outreach activities to further their understanding of the Middle East, and shed the stereotypes that are still prevalent in today’s society.

Christian Gomez is a junior at the University of Utah. He is studying strategic communication with a minor in writing in rhetoric.

Primary Sources

Former Middle East Center director dies,” Daily Utah Chronicle, August 12, 1992, 3.

Intercultural Center Gains 3,000 Volumes,” Daily Utah Chronicle, August 16, 1966, 3.

Iran Embassy Honors Prof For Writings,” Daily Utah Chronicle, April 10, 1964, 4.

Mid East program okayed,” Daily Utah Chronicle, February 25, 1971, 5.

Profs Gain Posts,” Daily Utah Chronicle, July 14, 1967, 1.

Transcript, interview with Khosrow Mostofi, conducted September 17, 1985, by Everett L. Cooley, Everett L. Colley Oral History Collection, J Willard Marriott Library Special Collections, The University of Utah.

Secondary Source

Bean, Lee L. “Khosrow Mostofi.” Middle East Studies Association Bulletin 26, no. 2 (1992): 306-07.

 

 

 

Downwinders

Bombing_of_America_The

This map shows the hot spots of affected areas from nuclear fallout caused by the bomb tests at the Nevada Test Site. Used by permission, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

By Maddie Colosimo

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) ordered the United States government to conduct nuclear tests in the western states. This resulted in numerous people living around this area getting exposed to nuclear fallout and contracting some form of cancer. These people were later referred to as the Downwinders. At the same time of these tests, the University of Utah received a $3 million grant from the AEC to put toward nuclear research. This article will give a brief history of the AEC, examine the university’s role in the tests, and discuss the legacy of the Downwinders today.

As World War II ended, the United States Government created the Atomic Energy Commission to control nuclear development under President Harry Truman. Aside from aiding in national defense, Congress wanted the AEC to “promote world peace, improve public welfare, and strengthen free competition in private enterprise.” The Atomic Energy Act was then signed by Truman on August 1, 1946. (Buck, p. 1)

On January 6, 1961, the Daily Utah Chronicle wrote a story about the AEC giving Utah universities grant money for nuclear research. This grant was from the Atomic Energy Commission. They awarded the University of Utah, Utah State, and Brigham Young University a total of $4 million over a 10-year period for research in atomic studies. The University of Utah received the largest chunk at $3,552,528.

On February 3, 1961, an article in the Daily Utah Chronicle announced the addition of a new medical center on campus. This housed a research facility from the Atomic Energy Commission which included dog kennels for beagles as their nuclear test subjects. A reporter wrote a story in the same issue of the Chronicle, predicting the 1960s to be a decade of science with the grant from the AEC as well as Time magazine naming 15 prominent scientists its “Men of the Year.”

The Atomic Energy Commission’s generous grant to the University of Utah supported many research projects on campus that led to many amazing advancements in modern science. Unfortunately, the Atomic Energy Commission left a negative impact in the state of Utah with the fallout of their nuclear testing.

The University of Utah’s Marriott Library recently conducted interviews with many of the surviving Downwinders. Justin Sorenson interviewed a man named Joseph Ward Spendlove. Spendlove was born in Delta, Utah, in 1942 and lived there until 1958. Many members of his community began to get cancer around that time which eventually took the life of his mother. Today he is living with prostate cancer while taking care of his brother, who has a degenerative nerve disease. Doctors are unsure if it is related to the nuclear testing. To this day, Spendlove still attends his high school class reunions where the topic of conversation is almost always centered around who has most recently died of cancer.

Ilene Hacker is another living Downwinder. She was raised in St. George, Utah, through the 1960s. Hacker’s father died from pancreatic cancer when he was just 48 years old. She and 13 of her close friends from high school were diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. Despite living in the crossfire of nuclear toxicity and being well traveled, Hacker still feels that she is living in the greatest place on earth. With that, she also feels a total distrust of the government.

The nuclear tests done in the western US have had a tremendous impact on the people who inhabit the region. By the firsthand accounts of modern Downwinders, we see this is an issue that persists even today. Ilene Hacker’s distrust in the government is not unwarranted and even members of Congress agree. The fact that so many people died because of nearby nuclear testing provoked a bill in the 1990s by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch to give compensation to these victims. There has been a recent movement to expand the compensation to victims throughout all of Utah, as well as neighboring states like Idaho and Montana and even Guam. For all of those heavily affected, compensation would range from $50,000-$150,000 — which, as the leader of this movement Preston Truman explains — would not even cover the cost of one chemotherapy treatment.

Maddie Colosimo is a senior at the University of Utah and is majoring in communication with an emphasis in strategic communication and minoring in art history.

Primary Sources

AEC Grants For Utah’s Universities Applied in Research,” Daily Utah Chronicle, January 6, 1961, 1.

Important— But…” Daily Utah Chronicle, January 6, 1961, 1.

Law, Business, Medicine Are Building Projects,” Daily Utah Chronicle, February 3, 1961, 9.

Dr. Libby Talks Tonight in Spencer Hall,” Daily Utah Chronicle, March 2, 1961, 1.

Ute Briefs: Atomic Energy,” Daily Utah Chronicle, December 12, 1961, 4.

Atomic Exhibit Due In Salt Lake,” Daily Utah Chronicle, September 2, 1960, 4.

Spendlove, Joseph Ward, et. al. “Interview with Joseph Ward Spendlove, Downwinders of Utah Archive.” Transcript of an oral history conducted on June 25, 2019, by Justin Sorensen and Anthony Sams, Everett L. Cooley Oral History Project, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Hacker, Ilene, et. al. “Interview with Ilene Hacker, Downwinders of Utah Archive.” Transcript of an oral history conducted on June 12, 2017, by Justin Sorensen. Everett L. Cooley Oral History Project, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Secondary Sources

Buck, Alice. “The Atomic Energy Commission.” Washington, D.C.: US Department of Energy, 1983

Davidson, Lee. “Utahns who say family members died from cancer because of radioactive fallout would be eligible for $150K under new bill,” Salt Lake Tribune, July 6, 2018.

JCordes, “Scientific Discoveries of the 1960s.”

Utah Department of Environmental Quality, “Impact of Aboveground Nuclear Tests on Southern Utah,” September 11, 2019.

An Anthropological and Environmental Look at the Effects of the Glen Canyon Dam on the American Southwest

Aerial glen canyon

Negative of an aerial view of part of Glen Canyon in early days of Lake Powell. Possibly taken in November of 1964.
Used by permission, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

By Daniel Belding

The Glen Canyon region is one of the most popular destinations of the American Southwest. The area is perhaps most known for Lake Powell, yet many visitors do not know the story of how this site was formed. Lake Powell is a reservoir which was created when the backwater from the Glen Canyon Dam flooded Glen Canyon.

The United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) notes that upon Congress’ approval of the Colorado River Storage Project Act in early 1956, construction of the dam began and officially concluded in 1966. The Glen Canyon Dam is an engineering marvel that provides the states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Nevada, and California with a steady water supply. Aside from California, each of the aforementioned states also benefits from the dam’s hydroelectric power. In “Dam(n) How Times Have Changed…,” Peter Lavigne writes, “Dams have turned the arid deserts of the West into dazzling electrical cities, water-wanton agricultural plots, and high desert grazing ranges.” While the Glen Canyon Dam has turned a barren landscape into a livable region and provided clean energy the project faced scrutiny which has lasted to this day. Even the construction process itself proved to be tumultuous.

glen canyon construction

Photo shows construction work on the Glen Canyon Dam in 1963. Used by permission, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

One of the largest controversies surrounding Glen Canyon’s intentional flooding was the loss of archaeological sites within the canyon. However, the October 13, 1960, issue of The Daily Utah Chronicle highlights the efforts of anthropologist Dr. Jesse D. Jennings along with others to salvage and preserve these historic sites. Jennings also created a film that showcased the work required to complete the salvaging and discussed the necessity of the dam. The film was presented at the University of Utah to positive reviews. The Daily Utah Chronicle also reported in the February 23, 1960, issue that Glen Canyon was once home to over 300 Native American sites that dated back 800 years prior to the dam’s construction. Although some sites were lost. Jennings and his team of anthropologists were able to uncover numerous ancient records opening doors for further research on the tribes of the Southwest and why they vacated their former settlements.

While the work of Jennings and his colleagues was celebrated by many, it also highlights the frustrations of those who opposed the dam. The October 14, 1960, issue of The Daily Utah Chronicle explains that Jennings and his team were the first non-indigenous explorers of the majority of these sites. This was met with controversy as opposition of the dam saw this as an intrusion that was a direct effect of the region’s rapid development.

A quote from the article “Man’s Impact on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon” featured in the July-August 1974, issue of American Scientist further highlights the Glen Canyon Dam’s adverse effects. The article states that the once remote Southwest now houses “some of the most extensive and persistent scars of large scale environmental modification.” (Dolan, Robert et al., p. 392. As roads and residential developments continued to appear in the region, Lake Powell was filled with sediment and eroded materials that are important to the Colorado River’s stability. However, the dam blocked these resources from entering the lower portions of the river,resulting in a change in the Colorado River’s shape, flow and flood patterns as soon as the 1970s.

glen canyon bridge

Photo showing Glen Canyon Bridge. Photo by Greg Dimmitt or David Thompson during a South Cottonwood Ward river trip on the Colorado River around 1960 or 1961. Used by permission, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

The Glen Canyon Dam project was met with considerable outside protests, yet there were many issues with internal affairs as well. The Times Independent reported in the April 20, 1961, issue that Utah was one of the last affiliated states to actively support the filling and creation of Lake Powell. Once Utah politicians agreed on the project more trouble arose. Early into the construction process workers went on strike after wages were cut. The March 11, 1960, issue of the Salt Lake Times covered the workers’ strike, which forced Utah Senator Frank Moss to introduce a bill to the Treasury hoping to erase interest the project had accumulated during the period when no progress was made on the dam. The strike went on to delay completion of the dam by six months.

Glen Canyon Dam is an often unrecognized project which has helped shape the Southwest. The dam has been met with both praise and opposition. Millions have visited and enjoyed the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, while other groups still actively call for the dam’s decommissioning. The Glen Canyon Dam’s commissioning was a major factor in the development of the Southwest but this has certainly come at a price.

Daniel Belding is a senior at the University of Utah. He is majoring in communication.

Primary Sources

“Publication Outlines Utah’s Anthropological Sleuthing,” Daily Utah Chronicle, February 23, 1960, 3.

“Moss Asking Congress to Overlook Strike in Dam Interest Cost.” Salt Lake Times, March 11, 1960, 1.

“Glen Canyon To Be Topic For Lecture,” Daily Utah Chronicle, October 13, 1960, 2.

Richard Rosenbaum, “Salvage Movie with Talks Sparks Interest,” Daily Utah Chronicle, October 14, 1960, 2.

“Utah Backs Commission,” Times Independent, April 20, 1961, 2.

Secondary Sources

Dolan, Robert, et al. “Man’s Impact on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon,” American Scientist 62, no. 4 (July-August 1974): 392–401.

Glen Canyon Unit,” United States Bureau of Reclamation.

Lavigne, Peter M. “Dam(n) How Times Have Changed…,” William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review 29, no. 2 (2005): 450-480.

 

 

 

 

Poet Robert Frost at the University of Utah, April 1940

By Morgan Parent

Introduction

Robert Frost, born in San Francisco, is best known as a New England poet — writing about quintessential rural American themes based on direct observations, according to his obituary in the January 30, 1963, edition of the New York Times. Success did not come quickly to the now-celebrated poet. The piece tells of the 20 years of writing and various jobs he busied himself with in the time before “A Boy’s Will” was published in England, 1913. Following Ezra Pound’s support of that publication, the path to recognition cleared and Frost began to teach again, lecture for audiences across the nation, and ultimately was awarded the Pulitzer Prize four times. (New York Times, 1963)

Findings

 

Parent_5630_SaltLakeTelegram_April-5-1940

An advertisement that appeared in the April 5, 1940, issue of the Salt Lake Telegram.

It was during one of his lecture tours when Robert Frost found himself in Utah for a series of talks along the Wasatch Front. The Salt Lake Telegram reported in April 1940 that Frost first spoke in Logan the day before his April 9, 1940, University of Utah appearance and would be traveling to speak at the Provo Tabernacle the day after.

A Boy’s Will, North of Boston, Mountain Interval, New Hampshire, and West Running Brook were a few of his most popular works at the time, as reported in a March 28, 1940, issue of the Daily Utah Chronicle.

The Daily Utah Chronicle also noted this lecture marked the ninth and final event of the 1939-40 Master Minds and Artists series in its April 11, 1940, issue. Kingsbury Hall was scheduled to host the audience of students and members of the public alike that Tuesday, where Frost would regale them with “A Poet’s Outlook on Life,” described the April 9, 1940, copy of the Salt Lake Telegram. This article also revealed that the university extension division sponsored the program. (Salt Lake Telegram, 1940, pg 24)

On April 3, 1940, the Daily Utah Chronicle wrote that Mr. Frost was considered “one of the country’s most eminent contributors to the world of literature.” Being able to hear the poet tell his own story, from rural life, to personal stylistic choices, to his musings on academia surely would have been a treat.

Parent_5630_DailyUtahChronicle_April-11-1940Indeed it was, for his “shrewd wit and good natured fellowship” garnered many laughs and claps from the full crowd. (Salt Lake Telegram, 1940, pg 20) Frost was quoted saying “he never bothered be radical when young for fear it would make him conservative when old,” in the April 11, 1940, issue of the Daily Utah Chronicle. This quote, the article reports, brought about a fit of laughter from the audience. In addition to slightly slandering philosophers and commenting on colleges, the April 11, 1940, Daily Utah Chronicle column ended by saying Frost read a selection of his short poems — The Road Not Taken among them.

Conclusion

In April 1940, Robert Frost spoke at the University of Utah. While his lecture brought laughs to those listening, it also left a legacy. Knowing that such an influential writer visited Salt Lake City is an amazing bit of history that seems to not have been researched and written about much since it happened. However, it shows that the U was influential enough to be able to coordinate such a visit.

Bringing speakers with diverse backgrounds to campus is a trend that has continued to today. Hearing people with upbringings that maybe aren’t so different from our own creates a richer perspective, even more so for university students about to bring their own knowledge into the world. Robert Frost, like other artists with such caliber, can speak to the human experience while enlivening their own works and enriching our lives.

Morgan Parent graduated from the University of Utah in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science degree in communication. She’ll be relocating to the Pacific Northwest in 2020 to pursue her next great adventure.

Primary Sources

Master Minds Schedule Eminent Poet,” Daily Utah Chronicle, March 28, 1940, 3.

Eminent Poet To Lecture Here Tuesday,” Daily Utah Chronicle, April 3, 1940, 1.

Advertisement for Lecture, Salt Lake Telegram, April 5, 1940, 24.

U. Audience Waits Robert Frost Talk,” Salt Lake Telegram, April 9, 1940, 5.

Robert Frost Talk Pleases Master Minds Series Audience at Kingsbury Hall,” Salt Lake Telegram, April 10, 1940, 20.

Noted Verse-Writer Wins Applause With Poems, Tales,” Daily Utah Chronicle, April 11, 1940, 1.

Secondary Source

Robert Frost Dies at 88; Kennedy Leads in Tribute,” New York Times, January 30, 1963.

 

How Ecker Hill Was Named after the President of the Utah Ski Club from the 1930s to 1940s

By Ileana Brown

ecker2

Photo of Utah ski jumping pioneer Pete Ecker at Dry Canyon near the University of Utah, about 1918. Alan K. Engen Photograph Collection, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Peter Sandaker, formerly known as Peter Sand Ecker, was born in Oslo, Norway, on March 25, 1898, to Ole Lauritz Johannessen Sandaker and Ingeborg Sandaker. (Perry, Welland, Haws) He had six siblings, including Oline Marie Funnemork (born Sandaker), and Jakob Sandaker. (My Heritage) In 1968 The Utah Daily Chronicle reported on Peter S. Ecker in an article titled “Skiing: Sports Continue to Grow.” The article stated he migrated to Salt Lake City from Oslo, Norway, at the age of 20 in 1918. He was a Norski photographer and a pioneer in ski jumping. His passion for skiing and photography led him to create Ecker’s Photo Studio and join the Norwegian-American Athletic Club (NAAC). The club was created by Norwegian immigrant Martinius “Mark” A. Strand in 1918 to promote Utah skiing. On April 21, 1920, Ecker married Gudrun Kristine Kaalstad (1898-1984) in the Salt Lake temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They had three children: Norma Ecker Larrabee (1921-1996), Raymond Ecker (1925-2001), and Harold Ecker (1928-2015). (Haws)

On October 15, 1924, the Utah Chronicle announced the official Utonian photographer, Peter S. Ecker. His job was to take professional photographs of the students and staff at the University of Utah for the yearbook. His ads were often published in the Utah Chronicle. Before he began his own studio, Ecker was formerly with Lumier, Wilcox and Freemondo Studios until he bought the Berryman Studio on 131 S. Main Street in Salt Lake City. He renamed it Ecker’s Studio. On November 16, 1939, an ad was published in the Utah Chronicle announcing Ecker’s new Bell & Howell Filmo Camera Department containing personal motion picture equipment “to help you capture the thrill of moments you will want to live again.”

In the late fall of 1928, Utah Ski Club members Ecker and Strand pioneered ski promotion by establishing a ski jumping facility near Parley’s Summit. The club included Norwegian Americans, all interested in promoting winter sports. (Utah Division of State History) In the same year, by Christmas Day, they completed a series of jumps. In 1929, the club hosted the first ski jumping tournament on “the hill,” then known as “Rasmussen Ranch” due to its suitable terrain. (Barlow)

Ecker 1

Photo showing Peter S. Ecker and Alf Engen at the ski jumping tournament held at Ecker Hill, Summit County, Utah, in January 1931. Wasatch Mountain Club Photograph Collection, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Ecker and Strand were responsible for setting up major ski tournaments. Due to their efforts, many Utah skiers were encouraged and inspired to join and participate in the ski jumping revolution. Some of the big names include: Halvor Hvalstad, Halvor Bjornstad, Sverre Engen, Einar Fredbo, Ted Rex, Alf Mathesen, Lars Haugen, Steffen Trogstad, Alf Engen, Vic Johannsen, Axel Andresen, Nordquist, and Ralph Larsen. (Utah Division of State History)

Ski-jumping continued to remain popular throughout the early twenties and thirties. The Utah Daily Chronicle reported in 1968 thatAxel Anderson monopolized the jump title from 1918 to 1922 and 1924-’27 with leaps of 80 feet at best.” Mark Strand says “The ‘Big Boom’ of skiing began in 1930. In one year we jumped into national-—no, world—attention.” Not only that, but in 1930 with the help of many supporters and the Rasmussen family, whose hill was the ski jumping location, helped create the reality of the jump. Many supporters sought out a dedication ceremony on March 2, 1930, where Governor George H. Dern named the hill overlooking “Rasmussen Ranch” after the President of the Utah Ski Club, Peter S. Ecker. (Barlow)

In 2016, Jacob Barlow wrote an article titled “Ecker Hill Ski Jump.” “Ecker Hill attracted many amateur and professional jumpers from all over the world” who competed in events drawing thousands to the state. Alf Engen, a young 20-year-old who came to Utah from Norway in 1929, made himself a name on Ecker Hill. In 1930 he leaped 247 feet in the air and broke five world records. He became a recipient of the “Skier of the Century” award. (Nelson, Barlow) “Through the continuing efforts of Strand, Ecker, and later S. Joseph Quinny, Ecker Hill became the site of national tournaments from 1930 to 1949, and was on the international ski tour.” (Bea) Not long after the 1949 National Championships, Ecker Hill’s popularity declined due to bigger and better-designed hills. The hill was also rendered “obsolete” once ski equipment and techniques improved.(Roper, Ecker photographic exhibit)

Peter S. Ecker, Mark Strand, Axel Anderson, and Alf Engen will continue to be known as the Norwegians who propelled Utah’s winter sports. After ski jumping died down Ecker continued to manage popular Salt Lake City photo emporium Ecker Studios for 40 years (Alf Engen Ski Museum, Welland, Haws) and continued to take pictures for the University of Utah’s yearbook, the Utonian. (Utonian 1941, 1944) Due to the decline in the popularity of ski jumping many tried to revive Ecker Hill in the late 1960s, but the reality was, ski enthusiasts wanted to participate in the sport of causal downhill skiing. (Mays, Roper) “Local resorts such as Brighton, Alta, and Park City began their rapid growth during the 1950s. Ecker Hill was last used around 1960.” (Roper) In recognition of its significance, on May 5, 1986, a monument dedicating the early ski jumping site, Ecker Hill was put up in Summit County, Utah (Wilburn and Jean Pickett Photograph Collection) and the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Roper)

Ileana Brown graduated in December 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (with an emphasis in journalism) and Film Production. She hopes to continue advancing her skills in all things media, including photography, videography, and writing in hopes to land a career in TV production.

Sources

Joan Nelson, “Skiing: Sport Continues to Grow,Utah Daily Chronicle, December 5, 1968, 10.

Advertisement, Utonian photographs, Utah Chronicle, February 10, 1944, 2.

Utonian Pictures,” Utah Chronicle, January 6, 1944, 1.

Advertisement, Ecker Studio, 1941 Utonian, The University of Utah.

Advertisement, Ecker Studio, Utah Chronicle, November 16, 1939, 3.

Utonian Photographer is Announced,” Utah Chronicle, October 15, 1924, 1.

Barlow, Jacob. “Ecker Hill Ski Jump,” October 8, 2016, JacobBarlow.com.

Haws, Julie. “Gudrun Kristine KaalstandEcker,” Findagrave.com.

Mays, Bea. “Ecker Hill,” Summit County, Utah.

Perry, Judyth Christensen. “Peter Sand Ecker,” Geni.com.

Roper, Roger. “Ecker Hill,Utah History Encyclopedia.

Welland, Betsey. “Peter S. Ecker papers, 1930s-1950s,” Archives West, Orbis Cascade Alliance.

Peter S. Ecker, 1797-1878,” My Heritage.com.

Peter S. Ecker,” Alf Engen Ski Museum.

Roper, Roger. “Ecker Hill: A Photographic Exhibit.” Utah Division of State History.

 

The Story of Alta Ski Resort

By Lorenzo Pighini

Skiing serves as one of Utah’s main forms of recreation, and locals believe the state possesses “The Greatest Snow on Earth.”  However, mass public skiing wasn’t always readily available to Utahns. In the fall of 1938, the development of Alta, what is now known as one of the most elite ski resorts in the world, began. Within a decade, Alta had become a nationwide attraction. The story of how Alta came to be is quite remarkable, and certainly imperative to the growth of one of Utah’s most coveted historical pastimes.

Before skiing in Utah reached mass popularity, it was used as a means of travel throughout Utah’s rugged mountain terrain. According to A. Joseph Arave, the first Utah skiers included trappers, miners, and others who relied on skis as a means of transportation. Gradually, it became a recreational activity for those looking to tour the mountains and by the late 1920s, these tours, as well as ski-jumping meets, began to attract thousands of Utah residents. Due to the growing interest and demand in skiing, several small ski areas were developed using simple tow rope and T-bar systems. All the while, The Alta Winter Sports Association was building Utah’s first ski lift and what would eventually become one of Utah’s finest ski resorts.

AKE_0102

Ski Archives Photograph Collection, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

The New York Times reports that after Alta was destroyed by fire and avalanches in the early 1900s, the lone resident of the town was the self-declared mayor George Watson. Watson agreed to give 1,800 acres of land to the United States Forest Service. With the help of Watson and the Forest Service, the Association was able to obtain land to construct the resort. The Association raised $10,000 in order to construct the lift, and was able to obtain a permit to construct the chairlift in the fall of 1938. An aerial mining tramway was then purchased from a pair of mining men, and the Association converted the machinery into a lift. It was named The Collins lift and it scaled the mountain a total of 2,740 linear feet.

p0371n1_01_09

Alta Photograph Collection, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

After the success of constructing Utah’s first operational lift, Alta’s popularity skyrocketed. New lifts were constructed in the early 1940s, and while many ski resorts nationwide shut down throughout the duration of World War II, Alta remained open and offered recreational relief to soldiers based in Utah. The Utah Chronicle reported on February 6, 1941, that University of Utah students were able to take tri-weekly bus trips sponsored by the student ski club to the resort. As Alta began to expand year after year, so did the number of visitors. According to Anthony Will Bowman, between 1964 and 1965, over 230,000 visitors went to Alta between the months of December and April.

As ski resorts have become Utah’s largest tourist attraction, as well as one of the state’s most profitable industries, Alta Ski Resort still possesses some individuality among other local resorts such as Park City and Canyons Resort. Alta is one of only six resorts in the National Ski Area Association where snowboarding isn’t allowed. Alta has also stuck to fundamental values of skiing, focusing its efforts on providing a quality skiing experience on unmatched terrain, rather than selling out for profit or joining a massive corporate conglomerate. This refusal to adapt has allowed Alta to preserve its integrity and remain the most historical ski resort in Utah.

Lorenzo Pighini is a Chicago native majoring in communication and minoring in business at the University of Utah. He moved to Utah to pursue an education and to experience world-class snowboarding.

Sources

Arave, A. Joseph. “Skiing in Utah,” Utah History Encyclopedia, Utah Education Network.

Bowman, Anthony Will. “From Silver to Skis: A History of Alta, Utah, and Little Cottonwood Canyon, 1847-1966″ (Master’s thesis, Utah State University, 1967).

“Ski Manager Plans Bus Trips to Alta,” Utah Chronicle, February 6, 1941, 2.

Jake [no last name]. “SkiUtah License Plate.” Ski Utah, November 20, 2007.

DeLeo, William. “Alta, Utah Historical Timeline.”

Diliberto, Gioia. “Earning It; A Ski Area Without the Extremes,” New York Times, March 22, 1998.

Photo Gallery. Alta Historical Society.

 

Utah Sugar Beets: A Struggling Industry

By Andres-Alcantar Castro

During World War II, President LeRoy E. Cowles encouraged University of Utah students to help struggling sugar beet farmers. Ads were placed in the Utah Chronicle to increase participation. The Chronicle reported that only 24 students had participated. Utah farmers continued looking for workers in the coming years but the industry fought to keep crops plentiful despite the shortage.

Sugar beets supplied half of the nation’s sugar by then. The U.S. military relied on sugar and foodstuffs for energy. In 45 years, Americans went from consuming 45 to 109 pounds of sugar per capita, making the U.S. the world’s largest sugar consumer. The sugar beet became a viable option because it grew where sugar cane couldn’t. Sugar beets, however, yielded a maximum of 15 percent sugar and thus required research to yield more. (Weeks, p. 370)

Beets_at_Loading_Station_copy_

Beets at loading station. 
Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society.

As early as June 1942, the North Cache News printed an article emphasizing the struggles that farmers faced in finding labor to thin their sugar beets. The locals suggested that farmers use children to help in the fields. While farmers were first reluctant, the crisis changed their minds. White-collar workers from Bingham City also helped the farmers of Cache Valley. The article points out that the labor shortage wasn’t only because of men turned soldiers, but also men working in the industries conducive to the war.

The Rich County Reaper reported on January 2, 1942, that 1.5 million workers would be needed by 1943 to produce sugar and other products. In addition, 12.7 million tons of sugar would be needed in 1943. This amount was twice as much as that needed in World War I.

University students might’ve thought the work was not worth doing because they were paid $1 per ton harvested. This amount translates to only $15 today, adjusted for inflation. The university, however, claimed it was patriotic to work in the beet fields and even offered transportation to and from the university to encourage students to do so. A Chronicle article published in the October 15, 1942, issue reported, “Even though it is difficult for students who are busy with defense jobs and activities …, they may, in a few spare hours after classes, do a job which to them might seem minute and unimportant, but which in reality will greatly aid in our war program.”

Layton_Sugar_Factory_Wagon_Dumping_Beets_into_Hopper

Layton Sugar Factory, wagon dumping beets into hopper.
Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society.

During this time, the Japanese relocation program had begun. The Topaz internment camp housed many of the displaced Japanese-Americans. On October 14, 1942, the Topaz Times printed a job announcement for topping sugar beets for $16 monthly pay. This work was attractive to Japanese men because they had little freedom. Fifty-six other Japanese men left for Cache County, while some went as far as Preston, Idaho, to work. Even Topaz only had 250 of the 400 workers needed there. Also, Mexican miners had started immigrating to Utah since the 1930s but by the 1940s about 60 families settled in Garland, Utah, to work in the sugar beet fields. Mexican immigrants were able to take advantage of the pay from the sugar beet industry and work toward building a community. (Solórzano, p. 18)

The new labor force helped the beet farmers harvest crops but they still required advancements in technology to reach their goals. Luckily, groups like the American Society of Sugar Beet Technologists were researching new ways to increase yields and were optimistic for the future of the industry. The Salt Lake Telegram reported on January 5, 1942, that a new method, tested in 326 beet fields, controlled irrigation and produced a higher sugar content within beets. Naphthalene acid amide was also a chemical being tested that could eliminate the leaf hopper, a type of fly that attacked the leaves on beet plants. The acid was reported to cause plant growth in some cases but damage in other cases.

The sugar beet industry suffered from a wide labor shortage, particularly because of the war. The university students’ reluctance to help was only part of a bigger problem. Farmers had to rely on immigrants and community members for their farms to survive. Small sugar yields helped win the war but more research needed to be done to make it successful.

Originally from the Columbia River Gorge area of Oregon, Andres Alcantar-Castro is a senior at the University of Utah. He will graduate in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication with an emphasis in journalism.

Sources

“Working in Beet Fields Is Patriotic and Fun,” Utah Chronicle, October 15, 1942, 5.

“Chairman Issues New Appeal for Student Labor,” Utah Chronicle, October 15, 1942, 1.

“Questions,” Topaz Times, October 14, 1942, 2-3.

“Farmers Accept Boys and Girls in Beet Fields” North Cache News, June 19, 1942, 4.

“Sugar Experts See Big Future for Industry” Salt Lake Telegram, January 5, 1942, 13.

“U. S. Farmers with Less Labor, Supplies, Machinery, Must Double the Production Shown in World War I,” Rich County Reaper, January 2, 1942, 3.

Solórzano, Armando. “The Making of Latino Families in Utah,” Beehive History 25 (August 31, 2009): 18.

Weeks, Michael. “Sugar State: Industry, Science, and the Nation in Colorado’s Sugar Beet Fields,” Western Historical Quarterly 48, no. 4 (October 2017): 367–391.