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History

Native Utah Lake Fish

New Live June Sucker Exhibit

By Conservation, History, Utah History, Utah Lake, Wild Life

Visit the Utah Lake Exhibit

Monday – Saturday 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Adult: $5.00 / Child: $4.00

The  Live June Sucker Aquarium Exhibit

Come meet these endemic (of a plant or animal native and restricted to a certain place) fish.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service listed the June sucker as an endangered species in 1986.  After a century of carp introduction,  pollution from human waste, industry, and dumping, these fish simply were not going to survive without human intervention.

June Suckers are a large part of the diet of many of the birds that use Utah Lake shores, Bird Island, and the surrounding fields as a main food source. The declining population of June Suckers directly endangers these birds and their offspring.

Common Name: June Sucker      Scientific Name:Chasmistes liorus

History

(From JuneSuckerRecovery.org)

Over 1000 years ago, Native Fremont people live near the lake and depend on its native fish for food. In 1776, Father Silvestre Velez de Escalante arrives to the valley, meets the local Ute tribe, and is considered to be the first European to see the lake.

When European settlers began arriving in 1847, Native Americans showed them how to catch, dry, and survive on the fish of Utah Lake.  While it saved them from starving, it soon led to overfishing and the depletion of June Suckers in Utah Lake.

 

 

 

 

 

Perry Murdock of the Timpanogas Tribe Teaches Native American Fish Drying Techniques
Daniela Larsen and Jake Benson learn how to dry fish

Utah Lake was home to millions of June Suckers along with 12 other fish species. Of those 13 species, only June sucker and Utah sucker still inhabit the lake, now alongside several non-native species.

Native Utah Lake Fish

Read More on Nature Serve Explorer

NatureServe Explorer is the largest online encyclopedia of biodiversity in North America. Hosted by NatureServe, it is a valuable, cost-free tool made possible through the dedication and hard work of scientists, programmers, nature enthusiasts.

June Sucker Documented distribution
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.

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.