Baker Hot Springs
- Hot Springs in Utah
Baker Hot Springs
The Daggett Garage began life in the 1880s at the borax town of Marion, located on the northeast shore of Calico Dry Lake, as a locomotive repair roundhouse for the narrow-gauge Borate and Daggett Railroad. Daggett blacksmith Seymour Alf used a twenty-mule team to move the building to the Waterloo Mill and mine, southwest of Calico, circa 1896, where it served a similar purpose for a silver ore narrow-gauge railroad. Walter Alf, Seymour Alf’s son, moved the building to its current location in Daggett circa 1912.
The building was an auto repair shop on the National Old Trails Highway until World War II, when it became a mess hall for United States Army troops guarding the local railroad bridges. The Fouts brothers bought the building in 1946 and operated an automotive garage and machine shop in the building until the mid-1980s. The building is currently owned and operated by the Golden Mining and Trucking Company.
This community long served as a supply point and railhead for the mines of Death Valley and Calico. In the early 1880’s the first borax produced in Death Valley was hauled by mule team to the Atlantic & Pacific R.R. (later the Santa Fe) at Daggett. The station formerly Calico, was established in 1882 to service the silver mines, but was soon renamed for Lt. Gov. John Daggett. In 1888 it was connected to Calico by the narrow gauge Calico R.R. Silver prices dropped in the early 1890’s and the mines closed. At this time rich borax deposits were being worked at nearby Borate. 20 mule teams hauled the borax to Daggett for rail shipment. An era ended in 1898 when the famous teams were replaced by the Borate & Daggett R.R. By 1907 borax mining had ceased in favor of richer deposits near Death Valley.
This plaque (located in Daggett, California) was placed by the Billy Holcomb chapter of the ancient and honorable order of E Clampus Vitus, in cooperation with the Daggett Historical Society on Oct. 15, 1995.
Do Religion and Money Mix? A Tale of Two Banks
Diagonally across the street is the First Security Bank building. When it first opened on August 10, 1910, it was called the Uintah State Bank. The local Mormon population did not like the loan policies of the Catholic-managed Bank of Vernal, which is directly behind you. After much discussion, their general dissatisfaction resulted in the establishment of a rival bank. Mormon S. R. Bennion became the President of the Uintah State Bank.
The Uintah State Bank prospered, despite depression and wars. Following are notes taken from their board meeting of January 1937: “Lambs were sold at from three cents to nine cents per pound and cattle sold as high as fourteen cents per pound during July and August. Feed was plentiful and cheap, hay selling for five dollars and seven dollars per ton and grain for one cent per pound.”
Shortly after the bank opened, the Vogue Theater (right photo) was built. It was the community center for current news reels and a way for Vernal to see what was happening in world. A ticket cost twelve cents. Unbeknown to the building owners, the janitor operated an alcoholic still in the basement.
This is #4 of the 21 stop history walking tour in downtown Vernal, Utah. See the other stops on this page:
Grantsville City Hall
429 East Main Street in Grantsville, Utah
Biggest Little City of the Railroad
While the settlers were still in their fort, they sometimes called their community “Jericho,” for the Biblical Walls of Jericho; “Hatch Town,” because of the three Hatch families that lived there; or simply “The Bench,” because the settlement lay on a rise four miles due south of Ashley, the first little frontier town in the valley. Although residents eventually wanted to call the place Ashley Center, the federal postal service refused their request and assigned them the name Vernal in 1886. Few people liked it then, but it obviously stuck.
It wasn’t too many years before Ashley was nothing more than a ghost town. Led by prominent saloon keeper and mayor S. M. Browne, Vernal had become the “biggest little city off the railroad” and a “model of city government.” In 1902 Missouri’s St. Louis Globe gushed:
This little burg is governed in such a manner as to make it the envy of all the other cities in the state. The one thing which makes Vernal unique among the cities of the United States, if not the whole world, is that there has never been a dollar of money raised by a city tax since it incorporated.
There are no boodlers [bride-takers] in Vernal and there never has been a suspicion of scandal since it became a city.
Politics cut no figure in the city elections, and the best men in the place are chosen to fill the offices. To be a member of the city government is considered a high compliment to the business ability of the man, so the offices are sought by the leading businessmen of the place and, when once elected, they gladly served out their terms without pay.
While elected officials have since levied taxes to pay for city services, Vernal continues to be the biggest little city in northeastern Utah.
This is #12 of the 21 stop history walking tour in downtown Vernal, Utah. See the other stops on this page: