Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Utah

Day 652

     Bear River Refuge is a wetland oasis in a desert for wildlife. It lies in northern Utah, where the Bear River flows into the northeast arm of the Great Salt Lake. In the 1920s, due to the loss of marshes and huge bird die-offs from botulism, local individuals and organizations urged Congress to protect this valuable resource in Northern Utah, and in 1928, the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge was created.  The purpose of the refuge is to serve as a “suitable refuge and feeding and breeding grounds for migratory waterfowl”.

     Tidbit of Information: Although 3 main rivers enter the Great Salt Lake, there is no exit, other than evaporation.

     What did she see?

     Canadian Goose

     Northern Shoveler

     Ibis

     White Pelican

     Mule Deer – because of their ears

     Grebes

     Avocet

     Yellow Headed Blackbird

     This common black crow followed me home

     can I keep him?

Promontory, Utah

Day 642

     On September 8, 1942 the “undriving” of the last railroad spike was removed from the train tracks at Promontory Summit, Utah. The steel was needed for the war effort. The once thriving community of Promontory was now a ghost town. But I get ahead of myself.

     Let’s jump back 73 years to May 10, 1869 at exactly 12:47 P.M. That was when the last rail was laid and the “golden spike” driven to complete the first transcontinental railroad. The Union Pacific Railroad building from the East and the Central Pacific from the West, met at Promontory, Utah Territory.

     There was much fanfare and speeches. Telegraph lines were hooked up to broadcast the event around the Country. The honor of driving the spike would go to the two rail barons who had spearheaded the rail building. Leland Stanford, former Governor of California, and President of the Central Pacific Railroad, and Dr. Thomas Durant, Union Pacific Railroad Vice-President. Governor Stanford stepped up, took the maul, swung …….. and missed. Then Dr. Durant took his turn ……… and also missed. Finally, the crew bosses for each of the railroads took up the mauls and completed the tasks.

     The spike was made of gold and was ceremonial only. After the dedication, the spike was removed and replaced with real spikes, the only thing remaining is a plaque.

     We took a hike along the old railbed, called the Big Fill. There was a sign that remained you: “Rattlesnakes have the right of way.”

     Because of politics, no decision had been made by Congress as to where the two raillines would meet. By the time the decision was made it would be at Promontory, the railroads had already built rail-beds around the area.

     Rail-bed is the base on which the rail ties and track are actually laid. The bed is created by blasting through the mountain rock or building a bridge or fill in the land in the low areas. The trail we hiked today, about 3 miles round trip, was a circular route in which you walked on the rail bed of each railroad, the Central Pacific who decided to fill in the low area, and the Union Pacific who build a trestle.

     The fill is 500 feet long and 170 feet high. 

     The trestle was abandoned when the Central Pacific got the contract for this area, and therefore deteriorated and is no longer in existence.  

Antelope Island, Utah

Day 641

     There are no Antelope on Antelope Island, in The Great Salt Lake, Utah. In fact, there are no antelope in North America, just like there are no buffalo, they are only found in Africa.

     They are pronghorn.

     The first white man to see the Great Salt Lake was Jim Bridger in 1824 while on a trapping expedition. In 1843, explorer John C. Fremont, with his guide, Kit Carson, led an expedition to map the Great Salt Lake. Pronghorn, which Fremont called antelope, roamed the island, and therefore Fremont named the island Antelope.

     Boy, was the song: “Oh, give me a home where the Buffalo roam
Where the Deer and the Antelope play;” really got it wrong. 

     Nevertheless, there are also Bison on Antelope Island.

     We both hiked and drove around the Island. 

     The Mormons used the Island to graze cattle in 1848, with Fielding Garr building a ranch on the Island that was used until 1981. 

     Both the Bison (I guess they should call Buffalo Bill Cody, Bison Bill Cody) and Pronghorn roam free on the 43 square mile Island, the largest of 10 island in the The Great Salt Lake.

     Barbara found the bison fur to be very soft. 

     (That Bison was not happy when she tackled him to the ground to get that sample.)

Brigham, Utah

Day 640

     Brigham City lies on the western slope of the Wellsville Mountains, in Northern Utah. This area was first explored in 1850 by Mormon pioneer William Davis who then brought his family here in March, 1851.

     Lorenzo Snow, born April 3, 1814 and who would later serve as the fifth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1898 until his death, was chosen by Brigham Young in 1853 to lead settlers to this site and foster a self-sufficient city. Snow directed both religious and political affairs in the settlement, eventually naming it Box Elder in 1855. When the town was incorporated on January 12, 1867, the name was changed to Brigham City in honor of Brigham Young.

     Tidbit of Information: Snow’s cousin was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Let’s face it, you would have never known that if it weren’t for me (nor would you care, right?). 

     Brigham Young gave his last public sermon here in 1877 shortly before his death.

      You can’t go to a Mormon city without seeing the Tabernacle and the Temple. The Tabernacle is the community center. It is open to the public. This picture is from the pulpit of the Box Elder Tabernacle:

     The Temple is a place of worship. Non-Mormon’s are not permitted admittance: 

Technical Stuff:

Cedar City, Utah to Brigham, Utah: 299.6 miles

5 hours 34 minutes

10.3 MPG

Diesel: $3.10

Zion, Utah

Day 637

     We decided to hike Zion Canyon, located in southwestern Utah, near the Arizona and Nevada borders. The canyon has numerous waterfalls, which we wanted to see, walk under, and then hike to the top of one.

     The hike is labeled as moderate, 4 miles round trip. The hiking trail follows the Virgin River along the canyon floor, and then hike up the walls to the waterfalls.

     At this point you can actually walk under the falls. The wind was blowing and water was being sprayed out. Since it was now getting warm, it was refreshing. 

     Mormon pioneer, Isaac Behunin, built his cabin here in 1863. He named the Canyon Little Zion, the Old Testament reference to a “place of safety or refuge”. In time the Canyon became known just as Zion Canyon.

     The hike up was getting to be a little more than moderate, but the scenery was spectacular.

     As we continued up, we should have heeded the warning of the insects:

     The lizards looked at us as if we were crazy:

     This has become definitely more than moderate:

     We finally reached the top of the waterfalls:

     Although the mountain went higher, we could not:

     We left our climbing spikes home. But the view was impressive:

Cedar City, Utah

Day 633

     We are heading north to Montana to meet the other RVer’s who will be joining us on our 3 month trip to Alaska. However, there are snow capped mountains ahead. Not a good sign.

     Cedar City was originally settled on November 11, 1851 by Mormon pioneers and is located about 250 miles south of Salt Lake. They were sent here to build iron works, as there are vast iron and coal deposits in the area. They named this area after the abundant local trees (which are actually junipers instead of cedar). Cedar City was incorporated on February 18, 1868.

     So, do you know what this is? Hint: it is called The Deseret Alphabet.

     For my fire-friends, how does this “fire engine” work?

     Went to the local museums. Saw this Ore Shovel,

     But it was in a bad position for the photograph, Barbara was kind enough to move it slightly.

Technical Stuff:

Las Vegas, Nevada to Cedar City, Utah 178.5 miles

4 hours 14 minutes

9.4 MPG

Diesel: $2.98

Hoover Dam, Nevada and Arizona

Day 632

     Hoover Dam is located on the Nevada/Arizona border in the Black Canyon. Back at the turn of the century (I guess I now have to specify which century, that is from 1800 over to 1900) the melting snow from the Colorado Mountains forms the river of the same name. The river passes through 7 states before exiting in the California Bay. Some years the water was so much it flooded the entire California lowlands, and other years the river dried up before reaching there, causing sever droughts. The Dam was the solution, but the 7 states could not agree on how to manage the water.

     Finally, in 1921, Herbert Clark Hoover, Secretary of Commerce, had a conference with all the states and the Boulder Dam Project was created. The Dam was originally going to be built in Boulder Canyon, but later it was determined Black Canyon was a better choice, nevertheless the Project name remained the same. In fact, after the Dam was completed in 1936, it was called Boulder Dam until the name changed to Hoover Dam in 1947.

     Tidbit of Information: On March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed a law that made “The Star-Spangled Banner,” based on an 1814 poem by Francis Scott Key, America’s national anthem.

     I would give you all the statistics of the Dam, but I see you are becoming bored. 

     We took a tour of the Dam.

     We saw the generators that turned water into electricity

     The Dam is not one poured piece of concrete, but hundreds of poured blocks of concrete that are interlace with each other. On the inside you can see where they are joined. Each is identified. 

     Sensors are placed throughout the Dam to detect movement.

     You can see where the inspection tubes are located in the Dam walls. 

     Water does not flow over the Dam. To turn the generators, water goes through passages at the base of the Dam, thru the generators. During flooding of the river, there are spillways on each side of the Dam for overflow. Water usually goes no higher that the middle of the Dam.

     To build the Dam the Colorado River had to be diverted. When the Dam was competed it took the Colorado River 6 years to fill the reservoir behind the Dam, named Lake Mead, the largest man made reservoir in North America and named after Dr. Elwood Mead, a world-renowned water and irrigation engineer, who worked on the Dam project and died shortly after it’s completion.

     In taking a tour of the Dam, we went to one of the air-vent holes in the center. Here is the vent hole from above,

 

and where I looked out from it.