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Geneva Steel

What a pouring of steel can tell us about Utah during World War II

By History, Military, Rocks and Minerals, Utah History, Utah Lake

This piece of steel, approximately 3 feet in length, looks hardly significant. It is rough and bubbly and served no unique purpose. Yet this piece of steel has been on display for years at the Hutchings Museum because of the notable story which it tells. This bar of steel was the first poured at Geneva Steel in 1944. Though the steel plant is no longer in operation it holds a significant part in Utah history.

Geneva Steel

Geneva Steel was built to increase the steel production for America during World War II. In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had proposed opening a steel plant in Utah because of the state’s abundance in iron and other natural resources and because of its inland position where it would have less of a threat of being bombed. The idea was shelved after a couple of months due to the high cost it would take to build and operate the steel plant. In 1941, the threat of war loomed over America. If America were to enter the war, it would need to produce a lot more steel. Plans for the steel plant were approved and construction started in November of 1941, a month before Pearl Harbor and America’s official entry into World War II. Geneva was one of the largest inland government projects during the war. In April of 1944, Geneva shipped its first order which consisted of over 600 tons of steel plate.

The steel plant offered many new jobs to the people of Utah, but because many men were off fighting in the war, some positions considered to be a “man’s job” were filled by women. By the end of the war, more than 25% of the workers at Geneva Steel were women. The government also asked women to volunteer to be lookouts at the top of the Veterans Memorial Building (now the Hutchings Museum) for enemy planes coming to bomb the steel plant. The Memorial building at the time was one of the tallest in Utah Valley and had a direct view of the steel plant. When the war ended some women left their jobs and went back home, but others remained and continued working at the steel plant.

 

 

 

 

To show its appreciation of Geneva Steel and all the workers who served at the steel plant, The government named several Liberty Ships in honor of Utah, including The USS Joseph Smith, USS Brigham Young, USS Provo, and the USS Peter Skene Ogden.

See Geneva Steels’ first pour. On display in the Rock and Mineral Room at the Hutchings Museum.

Geneva Steel Utah Lake Clean Up

Geneva Steel Dumped waste into Utah Lake for years. Learn about the clean-up efforts here.

American Fork Canyon railroad sketch

The Man Who Haunts AF Canyon

By Utah History

American Fork Canyon is a favorite spot for many people living in Utah county. The canyon is popular for its reservoirs, fishing, hiking, scenic areas, and mountain climbing. On the weekends, the canyon is filled with people playing in the outdoors. Driving along the canyon past the popular Tibble Fork reservoir lies an old ghost town by the name of Forest City. Once a silver mining town, Forest City was home to many miners. It was believed to be occupied from 1871-1880. The city was once a thriving town and was thought to grow even more when the railroad being built up American Fork Canyon was to pass by the city.  Unfortunately, the railroad stopped short of Forest City due to engineering problems. Mines up the canyon could no longer afford the expense of sending materials down to the valley without the railroad and began to shut down. Many miners moved to other towns down south, abandoning the small mining towns up the canyon. Forest City soon became empty except for one man who stayed and is now said to haunt the canyon at night.

Edward Peter Hines was born in Buffalo, New York, on May 10th, 1850. As a young adult, Ed fell in love with a girl by the name of Maggie. Her father would not let the two marry because Ed was very poor and believed he could not provide for his daughter. However, Ed was determined to marry Maggie and promised her that he would one day be wealthy enough to provide for her. He packed his bag along with his brother and moved to Forest City, Utah, to begin mining. Ed soon fell in love with Forest City and mining. After nine years, the mining town closed, and everyone left except Ed, who decided to stay up the canyon and continue mining, determined to make his fortune so he could marry Maggie. Some winters, it was believed that Ed was the only person living up the canyon. In the summers, Ed sometimes made trips down to the valley but spent most of his time at his mining claims. People soon started to refer to him as the Hermit of AF canyon.

After ten long years, Ed wrote to Maggie and told her that he believed he would never make anything of himself and that she should marry someone else. However, Maggie refused to marry anyone else since her heart belonged to Ed, and she decided to become a nun when Ed never returned to New York. Ed remained up the canyon mining for many years and hardly made any money except once when he sold his mining claim and used his money to tour California. After spending every penny, Ed returned to Forest City and continued mining.

Many believed Ed’s pride to be the reason for him never returning to New York. He had not made the fortune that he told many he was going to make. Some say it was because of his deep love for mining and Forest City.  Ed seemed to thrive in his solitary life up the canyon. He stayed up there for years, only making a couple of trips down to the valley.

One day some friends of Ed’s who were also miners went up the canyon to visit him. They found him nearly starved and feeling very ill. The miners gave Ed food and were surprised how much he ate. They said he just ate and ate and ate. The next day they came to his home and found him dead. His stomach bloated from the amount of food he had eaten the previous night.

Ed had asked to be buried in Forest City. He wanted his final resting place to be in the town he loved so dearly. His brother refused to bury him in an abandoned city and instead buried him in American Fork Cemetery. According to many American Fork canyon campers, Ed has been seen hitchhiking his way up the canyon, trying to get back to his beloved Forest City. When cars pull over to give the man a ride, he vanishes into thin air. Some say they also can hear Ed at night rustling through campers’ food trying to find something to eat because he is still hungry.

Ed’s headstone remained unmarked for many years but was later given a marked one which reads “Gone back to Forest City.”

Bombing at Pearl Harbor. Memories by Geraldine Ekins

By History, Utah History

When we got married we went to Hawaii. Well, we arrived there Thanksgiving Day and in two weeks the World War II broke out. We were there until 1945 and went through some difficult times, but we loved every bit of it and we enjoyed being in that lovely climate. In fact, Abe says he’s sorry that he came back to all this cold weather. 

On the day of the bombing  of Pearl Harbor, well, I was in the apartment and Abe left just as soon as the news came on the radio. He was told to report for duty so he left. He never came back until twelve o’clock that night. 

So there were two to three ladies in these apartments. We all got together and stayed in one apartment because we didn’t know whether we’d be bombed or when we’d see our husbands come back. We had a bomb that did and two blocks from where we were and burned up everything in the whole block. 

But every time the alarm went off we had to go under a bridge that was near there. Well, the bombing was mostly out of Pearl Harbor, but the bomb that hit town was accidental probably. They didn’t know who belonged to what. The LDS temple was never bombed.

We got an excerpt from one of our LDS people, a Japanese man, that he was a bomber that was to go over and bomb the temple. He went over three times and he wasn’t allowed to. He couldn’t release the bomb so we knew that the Lord was there to protect the temple and he later became a member of the Church. 

  

All the ships at Pearl Harbor were bombed. 

We went to Hawaii when we first got married. Well, it was two weeks, between my folks and his before we could get reservations and we weren’t in the same room abored the ship. We had to take cancellations. I was with girls and he was with boys. Even after you got married you couldn’t make those arrangements to have a living space together. We were actually on our honeymoon then when the explosion took place. That’s kind of a rude awakening. 

Yes. Well, I was going to finish my last year of college there, and when I went to check with them, I had more classes than the teachers that were teaching. And I wanted tailoring, clothing, and I had all my psychology and all my education classes and all that kind of thing, and I was supposed to go to an outside island to practice. I’d have to go to one of the other island to do the practice teaching and I was a new bride from a little town in Lehi and I couldn’t see that. 

They said that we’ll teach you how to do Hawaiian food, but we had no that can teach you tailoring. So I went down to the FBI and because I didn’t know anyone there they said they couldn’t use anybody so I went to the Military Intelligence and was put on and worked for them all the time I was there. 

Abe was not in the service He went down as a civilian and he was frozen on his job with the Navy and I was with the Army and so sometimes we’d coordinate our vacations together. 

That’s was an awakening to the world, the bombing in the harbor. They interned most of the Japanese that were on the Hawaiian islands. They had them leave. Now I don’t know just where they interned them, but I had to write up a lot of histories and Abe wanted to know if his friends were in those histories and I said, “I can’t tell you.” 

After the sinking, they raised part of them. But the one that had so many men on, it’s a memorial now to the World War II. The memorial in the ocean. 

We came home about three years later. We had a two week vacation and we couldn’t come on the same ship, so I arrived in San Francisco. I was there a whole week before we could come back to Utah. 

A lot of things were rationed. I couldn’t get shoes. I couldn’t get nylons unless I waited in line and I was working. So lots of times I went bare legged because it was rationed. You couldn’t get fresh eggs. We had powdered eggs that we ate. We had an apartment and by the time I found out where to go to get black denim to cover the windows because it was all sold out. So I would cook Abe’s breakfast and go out in the moonlight to see if it was cooked enough and so we had a hard time for quite awhile. 

Yes they felt that they were going to return to bomb again. They left great big tanks of oil that were painted white. And they left the dry dock which is where they repaired the ships, and they left gas tanks and so we thought they were going to come back to use them. 

It was mostly military who lost their lives. We had quite a few military there at Pearl Harbor. I’d say there were six ships that were there and most of them were burning and servicemen would jump in the water. They said they’d try to push the oil away from their face because the oil would start on the water and he said many of them suffocated and died that way. 

So the people were very protective. You had to cover your windows, show no lights in the windows, Not even the keyhole could have right coming out of it. So it was a black place so they couldn’t see. I guess the hospital was full. The care for people was important and necessary. 

We sent a telegram to our parents as soon as we could get down to the building to send it, but because there was so many military messages going out they didn’t get it for a week. So they suffered not knowing what happened to us. 

Well it’s a heavenly place and it was just a honeymoon all the time we were there because it rains everyday and you don’t have the dust. And you don’t have to put up fruit because there’s always fresh fruit for everybody to eat and the ocean. If you have time off, you go to the ocean and swim and delightful climate and no cold. You could swim on Christmas Day if you wanted.

The Scofield Mine Disaster

By Utah History

On May 1st, 1900, the towns of Scofield and Winter’s Quarters located in Carbon County, UT, suffered one of the worst mining disasters in United States history. Scofield was once a thriving town with over 1,800 residents, many of different ethnicities, including Greek, Irish, Chinese, Dutch, and English. Winter Quarters and Scofield were built into mining towns as several mines opened in Carbon County. In 1877 several coal miners were stranded in the new mining town due to a severe snowstorm giving it its name Winter Quarters.  The bad weather did not deter any miners from leaving the towns of Scofield and Winter Quarters, and soon both towns were growing in size and population. Only several years later would many decide to pack up and leave the two towns, reducing them to merely ghost towns.

On May 1st, 1900, in the early morning, many headed to the mines in Carbon County. The day was supposed to end in celebrations commemorating the anniversary of Admiral Dewey’s victory over the Spanish navy in the battle of Manila bay in 1898. As the miners went off to work, the women and children prepared the Odd Fellows Hall for festivities that were to take place after the workday was over. Unfortunately, the hall would not be used for any celebrations that night.

Around 10:28 A.M, a dust explosion occurred at the Winter Quarters mine in shaft No. 4. The sound of the blast shattered windows in the nearby towns and was heard from miles away. Many townsfolk at first believed the sound to be fireworks set off for that day’s celebration. People standing closer to the mine rushed to the scene to see shaft No. 4 blown to pieces. They quickly gathered help to clear the entrance and try to rescue the remaining miners inside. When the opening was cleared, what they saw inside was devastating. Miners near the explosion had been burned, disfigured, and many had suffocated on the gasses released from the blast. When the miners in Shaft No. 1 heard the explosion, they began to rush to the nearest entrance to escape. Unfortunately, the closest exit was in shaft No. 4. Unaware of where the blast had come from, many miners began to head towards the explosion and began to suffocate from the toxic gasses.

Over the next two days, the bodies of the miners were dug out of the mine and brought to the schoolhouse where mothers, wives, and children waited to claim their loved ones. Over 200 men died that day. It was the worst mining disaster in U.S history at that point in time and ranks number 5 on today’s list of worst mining disasters. On May 5th, two large funerals were held in Scofield. One for the Lutherans and one for the members of the Church of Jesus Christ.

President McKinley sent a wire expressing his sorrow for the communities of Scofield and Winter Quarters and his sympathy to the families who had lost loved ones. The Pleasant Valley Coal company provided the necessary materials to properly bury the dead, shipping coffins from Denver and Salt Lake City.

After the mining disaster, many felt that the mining company had failed to implement proper safety procedures, but an investigation into the catastrophe declared that the accident was not the company’s fault. Many miners and their families felt they were being ignored by their employers and that mining companies did not implement the proper safety protocols. The disaster led to a strike by miners calling for better treatment and safety. Many families left Winter Quarters and Scofield to start a new life away from the towns that now felt soaked in tragedy. The mine continued to operate but lacked many professional miners after the accident and closed in 1923 after a new mine opened nearby. Winter Quarters is now a complete ghost town, and Scofield is currently the smallest town in Utah, with a population of 23 residents. Many empty buildings still stand, and a cemetery where many of the miners were buried is located on a small hill near Scofield.

Due to the Winter Quarters and Scofield mine disaster, many mines across Utah and other states implemented workers’ compensation funds in case of another disaster.

On May 1st, 1900, the towns of Scofield and Winter’s Quarters located in Carbon County, UT, suffered one of the worst mining disasters in United States history. Scofield was once a thriving town with over 1,800 residents, many of different ethnicities, including Greek, Irish, Chinese, Dutch, and English. Winter Quarters and Scofield were built into mining towns as several mines opened in Carbon County. In 1877 several coal miners were stranded in the new mining town due to a severe snowstorm giving it its name Winter Quarters.  The bad weather did not deter any miners from leaving the towns of Scofield and Winter Quarters, and soon both towns were growing in size and population. Only several years later would many decide to pack up and leave the two towns, reducing them to merely ghost towns.

On May 1st, 1900, in the early morning, many headed to the mines in Carbon County. The day was supposed to end in celebrations commemorating the anniversary of Admiral Dewey’s victory over the Spanish navy in the battle of Manila bay in 1898. As the miners went off to work, the women and children prepared the Odd Fellows Hall for festivities that were to take place after the workday was over. Unfortunately, the hall would not be used for any celebrations that night.

Around 10:28 A.M, a dust explosion occurred at the Winter Quarters mine in shaft No. 4. The sound of the blast shattered windows in the nearby towns and was heard from miles away. Many townsfolk at first believed the sound to be fireworks set off for that day’s celebration. People standing closer to the mine rushed to the scene to see shaft No. 4 blown to pieces. They quickly gathered help to clear the entrance and try to rescue the remaining miners inside. When the opening was cleared, what they saw inside was devastating. Miners near the explosion had been burned, disfigured, and many had suffocated on the gasses released from the blast. When the miners in Shaft No. 1 heard the explosion, they began to rush to the nearest entrance to escape. Unfortunately, the closest exit was in shaft No. 4. Unaware of where the blast had come from, many miners began to head towards the explosion and began to suffocate from the toxic gasses.

Over the next two days, the bodies of the miners were dug out of the mine and brought to the schoolhouse where mothers, wives, and children waited to claim their loved ones. Over 200 men died that day. It was the worst mining disaster in U.S history at that point in time and ranks number 5 on today’s list of worst mining disasters. On May 5th, two large funerals were held in Scofield. One for the Lutherans and one for the members of the Church of Jesus Christ.

President McKinley sent a wire expressing his sorrow for the communities of Scofield and Winter Quarters and his sympathy to the families who had lost loved ones. The Pleasant Valley Coal company provided the necessary materials to properly bury the dead, shipping coffins from Denver and Salt Lake City.

After the mining disaster, many felt that the mining company had failed to implement proper safety procedures, but an investigation into the catastrophe declared that the accident was not the company’s fault. Many miners and their families felt they were being ignored by their employers and that mining companies did not implement the proper safety protocols. The disaster led to a strike by miners calling for better treatment and safety. Many families left Winter Quarters and Scofield to start a new life away from the towns that now felt soaked in tragedy. The mine continued to operate but lacked many professional miners after the accident and closed in 1923 after a new mine opened nearby. Winter Quarters is now a complete ghost town, and Scofield is currently the smallest town in Utah, with a population of 23 residents. Many empty buildings still stand, and a cemetery where many of the miners were buried is located on a small hill near Scofield.

Due to the Winter Quarters and Scofield mine disaster, many mines across Utah and other states implemented workers’ compensation funds in case of another disaster.

Common Ground Beetles

By Insects

Ground beetles are one of the largest groups of beetles in North America. The ground beetles consist of many species of beetles that can have a wide range of color and body shape. Colors of the beetle are usually brown and black but some species have a metallic hue and can be very bright in color. The common ground beetles have a diet that consists of worms, maggots, and many insects. Beetles’ best asset for finding food is their speed. In relation to their body length, they are among the fastest land animals. 

Beetles live under tree bark and rocks for protection. They are often hunted by birds and smaller mammals. The ground beetle is very beneficial to the ecosystem because of all the insects they eat. Without the common ground beetle, many plants and gardens would be unable to thrive because of all the caterpillars and worms feeding on the plants. Some ground beetles can be harmful if there is a large quantity of the beetle. 

Ground beetles help maintain the surrounding bug populations in their environments. If there is an overpopulated environment they are great at maintaining those populations to a healthy size but if there is a low amount of bugs in the area they can cause harm to the low populated ecosystems.

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