Carp Not Native to Utah Lake; Introduced in 1882.


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Carp Not Native to Utah Lake; Introduced in 1882.

Utah Lake was one of the natural resources that attracted Mormon pioneers to the Great Basin. The lake’s waters provided a home for thirteen species of fish, the most commercially useful of which were the Bonneville cutthroat trout, several types of sucker, and the chub. Most of the native species are now gone, and the fish so numerous in the lake today, including the carp, have been introduced by man.

Just thirty years after settlement in 1849, over-fishing and poor conservation had drastically reduced the number of trout, the lake’s most desirable fish. Those interested in fishing began looking for a good game and commercial fish to replace it. Newspaper articles told how people in Europe had successfully raised carp. Fish farmers touted carp as a good table fish and a profitable cash crop.

Carp were imported to North America in 1870, and the recent completion of the transcontinental railroad made it possible to ship the fish inland. Carp came to Utah in 1881. The next year, three men introduced carp to Utah County, and carp fingerlings soon found their way into Utah Lake where they flourished.

Unfortunately, the fish have been detrimental to the lake’s ecology. Carp have rooted out or eaten the plants that once grew on the bottom of the lake. This reduced the cover where young game fish could hide. Fewer plants also make it easier for wave action to stir up the sediment on the bottom of the lake and make the water murky. Bodily wastes from the vast number of carp increase the nutrients in the water and encourage the growth of algae on the lake’s surface during hot weather.

A concerted effort over the years to decrease the number of carp in the lake uses large nets to remove them. The ecology of the lake improves with less carp. Keeping them under control is an ongoing program.

This marker is located in Rock Canyon Park in Provo, for other markers in this series click here.

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Provo’s North Park had a Community Ice Skating Rink in the 1930s.


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Provo’s North Park had a Community Ice Skating Rink in the 1930s.

During the 1940s, ice skating flourished on what was then called the Provo Boat Harbor (Utah Lake State Park). Before there was a harbor, however, there were very few safe places to skate on the lake.
In an effort to keep skaters out of harm’s way, Provo City and the federal government’s Works Progress Administration cooperated to open an ice skating rink in the old baseball park that once stood on the land now occupied by the Provo City Recreation Center.

In November, 1938, the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Boy Scouts of America, and BYU’s Associated Men Students sponsored activities to help raise money for the construction of the temporary rink. The Jaycees sponsored a work day where leveling and banking were completed, and men flooded the rink, which measures approximately 400 by 600 feet.

Men sprinkled water on the rink every night for the remainder of the cold season. Laborers hung roughly 2,000 square yards of canvas over the ice to help protect it from the sun. Warm weather delayed the opening of the rink, but authorities finally sanctioned a limited opening of the outside facility to “children only” on December 14, 1938, and 300 kids attended. Ballpark lights illuminated the rink at night.

Children monopolized the rink until a grand opening on January 3, 1939. Provo City gathered Christmas trees and placed them around the ice to make the rink look “realistic.” So many patrons attended that evening schedules were divided into an early session for those age 12 and under, and a later session for those over 12. A public address system provided music for the skaters.

Children under 15 years old were admitted free. All others paid 10 cents. Skaters could check their shoes for an additional 5 cents. These fees helped pay for lighting and sprinkling expenses. The rink closed on February 23, 1939. It opened again for the next two winters and then was discontinued when safe skating became available on the partially completed Provo Boat Harbor. During its short history, over 23,000 skaters used the rink in North Park.

This marker is located in Rock Canyon Park, for other markers in this series click here.

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Provo Had a “Pest House” for Those with Communicable Diseases.


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Provo Had a “Pest House” for Those with Communicable Diseases.

Contagious diseases like measles, diphtheria, and small pox reigned among the most dreaded scourges of frontier life.  No vaccination for measles and diphtheria existed, and the isolation of the patient was one of the only ways to prevent the spread of these diseases. Even though many Provo residents had been inoculated for small pox, travelers sometimes carried the illness into town. They were promptly isolated until they recovered or died.

Provo did not have a specific place set aside for isolating infected patients until the spring of 1873 when a wayfarer, Captain R.C. Thomas, entered the city with little more than the clothes on his back and a case of small pox.

The Provo City Council rapidly authorized the purchase of 50 or 60 acres of land near the mountains and constructed a “pest house,” so called because it was used to confine people suffering from a pestilence, or a communicable disease. Thomas recovered in a little more than two weeks.

In 1877, a transient from California who was also suffering from small pox entered Provo. Workmen added another room onto the pest house for the use of attending nurses, and the new patient moved in. He survived, but a local teenage boy contracted the disease and died.

Increased fear of contagious diseases motivated the city council to pass an ordinance in 1878 that provided for quarantine and sanitary regulations. This ordinance required the appointment of a quarantine physician. The isolation at home of those who were ill with a serious disease and the marking of their residence with a yellow flag were now required by law. The ordinance also levied fines for those knowingly transporting sick people into Provo or for violating any part of the ordinance.

With infected people now confined to their own homes, the use of the “pest house” dwindled and it gradually became dilapidated. Workmen finally razed it in the 20th Century.

This marker is located in Rock Canyon Park, for other markers in this series click here.

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Proctor Academy Helped Educate Provo’s Youth.


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Proctor Academy Helped Educate Provo’s Youth.

Formal education developed very slowly in early Provo.  By 1855, only slightly more than half of Provo’s eligible students attended school.  It was not until the 1860s that Presiding Bishop William Miller convinced each Provo ward to build its own schoolhouse.  Education took a large step forward in 1875 wen Brigham Young Academy opened its doors.  It educated students from all levels and tuition was required.

As more non-Mormon families moved to Utah, other Christian denominations established schools in Utah.  In 1883, the Congregational Church established one of its missionary school in a small rented building in Provo.  Not more than 15 students initially attend it but the number of students grew rapidly.

Substantial support from Joseph O. Proctor, a wealthy eastern benefactor, enabled the church to erect Proctor Academy, a substantial brick building which sat on the northwest corner of 100 West 100 South.  The new structure contained an assembly hall, classrooms, and a library.  It eventually included all grades from primary to advanced.  Students came from all parts of the territory and from all classes of society.  At its peak, Proctor Academy enrolled over 200 students a year.

Schools sponsored by the Congregational Church earned the reputation of being some of the best in Utah.  All of their teachers earned normal school training in eastern schools.  Parents paid no tuition for students in the primary grades, and advanced students paid only a dollar a term.

In 1890, Utah passed a law providing free public education for its students, but it was not until 1912 that the Provo Board of Education agreed that a free high school should be established.  After Provo High School opened, the importance of Proctor Academy began to decline, and the school closed in 1917.  The Provo Elks Club bought the building in 1923 and converted it into an Elks Lodge.  Several decades later, it was razed to make room for commercial buildings.

This marker is located in Rock Canyon Park, for other markers in this series click here.

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Rock Canyon Park


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Rock Canyon Park is the largest park in Provo (for other parks in Provo click here). Located at the base of the mountains and above the Provo LDS temple, Rock Canyon Park is also one of the most beautiful parks. Perfect for large events and family reunions; there is a large open bowl area that can be used to accommodate several activities at one time.(*)

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There is a Gold Medal Mile here:

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There are many historic plaques describing parts of Provo’s history including:

Proctor Academy Helped Educate Provo’s Youth.


Provo Had a “Pest House” for Those with Communicable Diseases.


Provo’s North Park had a Community Ice Skating Rink in the 1930s.


Carp Not Native to Utah Lake; Introduced in 1882.


Creating the “Y” on the Mountain.


Provo’s Two Oldest Existing Homes Are Neighbors in Pioneer Village.


Provo’s First Tithing Office was South of Provo’s Town Square, Now Pioneer Park.


Utah Territory’s Deseret Telegraph Line Connected Provo to the Rest of Utah.


Several Brick Manufacturing Companies Once Operated in Provo.


Army Troops Caused the “Provo Riot” in 1870.


Provo’s First Bank was Late in Coming but Didn’t Last Long.


Choosing the Site of Provo’s First Tabernacle Caused Some Controversy.


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Fred R. and Mary J. Taylor House


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Fred R. and Mary J. Taylor House

589 East Center Street, Provo, Utah

Fred R. Taylor and Mary J. Taylor built this home in 1927.  Fred Taylor was a prominent pediatrician in Provo, and served as “city physician” during the early 1900s, giving advice to the mayor on issues affecting public health.

From 1945 to 1947, this home was owned by lumberman, church and civic leader William Addison Spear.  From 1950 to 1958, the property was held by the Arthur D. Sutton family.  Mr. Sutton was a well-known druggist and theater/apartment house manager.

This home is a good example of the English Tudor Revival, which was popular in Utah between 1915 and 1935.  The residence has its main entry in a recessed western wing barely visible from the street.  Its broad, gable rood faces est, while the main rood plain faces front, relieved by a massive, two story chimney and a large gabled roof dormer.  The rood pitch is steep, the walls plastered and the windows glazed in small panes.  The home and matching garage are unaltered and good examples of their style.

For other historic homes in Provo click here.

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Farrer Elementary School


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Provo‘s Farrer Elementary School, now renamed to Provo Peaks Elementary School.

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A plaque on a monument outside reads:

It is with pride this monument is erected in memory of all the thousands of dedicated staff and students who for seventy-three years made “The Farrer” a jewel of the Provo Community.

Farrer opened March 2, 1931 – The original cost being $126,918.00 – and quickly became an academic pillar of the County.  Farrer became known for its Excellence in Posture Parades, athletics, All-American school newspapers, fine band, orchestra, choral and technical programs, as well as being at one time the only junior high in the country with a Knapp Demonstration Library.  The Farrer Art Collection is one of the most extensive and valuable school collections in the state.

Over the years students enjoyed barn dances, field trips, the Farrer Run, cultural assemblies and very successful intramural programs.  From organizing scrap drives for the war effort to humanitarian projects directly benefiting this community, Farrer’s students and staff over the years logged thousandths of hours in service.  Farrer’s graduates have left an indelible mark in Utah and the nation.

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Original Farrer Student Creed

I believe in Farrer Junior High School and in the things for which she stands – Health in body, honest work, generous comradeship and reverence in the spiritual.  I believe in achievement and I pray for forcefulness to accomplish what I set out to do.  I believe in loyalty to our school and her traditions.  I pledge upon my honor to help in all her undertakings in all that will make her a stronger and nobler school, and I promise to do all that is within my power to become a student to match our building.

1934 — 2005

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Early Residents of Provo lacked Land Titles


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Early Residents of Provo lacked Land Titles.

For the first two decades after its settlement in 1849, a serious problem bedeviled the people of Provo.  None of the residents – or the rest of the inhabitants in Utah Territory for that matter – possed a legal totle to the land that they were living on.  The United States Congress passed laws that made it possible for homesteaders to gain ownership of a 160-acre plot of land, but this law did not help the typical Utah settler.  Because of the scarcity of arable land in the Great Basin, colonists were forced to intensively farm much smaller parcels of land that were ten or twenty acres in size.

Finally, on March 2, 1867, Congress passed a law that gave the elected leader of a city or town the authority to enter a land claim on behalf of its residents for the farmland and city lots held by members of the community.  After gaining legal ownership of the land, the community leader then transferred the deeds to those in possession of the land.

Brigham Young and Moyor Abraham O. Smoot urged Provo residents to file on their lands before land jumpers from the East files claims on the property.  The citizens of Provo held a mass meeting and appointed Jesse W. Fox to resurvey the city plat, a total of 2,240 acres.  Residents paid $1.00 per lot or $6.50 per five acres to have their land surveyed.

Fox finished his survey in March, 1868.  A year later, Mayor Smoot files on the whole town site with the U.S. Land Office.  This entry included not only private property, but public land like parks and roads.  After Smoot received the titles to this property , he sign them over to the rightful owners.

Some people have lived on their land for decades before they received title to it through usuing this creative process.  All of the original titles to land located on Provo are signed by Mayor Abraham O. Smoot.

This plaque is located in Memorial Park, to see other plaques in the series click here.

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A Wheelbarrow Parade in 1888 Helped Bring Political Parties to Provo


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A Wheelbarrow Parade in 1888 Helped Bring Political Parties to Provo.

Political parties evolved slowly in the Utah Territory.  There was little need for them during the first three decades, since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints controlled elections.  Local church authorities selected a slate of candidates, and only one man’s name appeared on the ballot for each office.  Little anticipation existed about who would win the election.

As more non-Mormons came to Utah, they demanded an expanded roll in elections and two political parties farmed in 1870:  The People’s Party (Mormons) and the Liberal Party (non-Mormons and disaffected Mormons).  Since Mormons vastly outnumbered non-Mormons, there was still little doubt about who would win each office.

Elections became more interesting in the 1880s after a large number of non-Mormon miners came to Utah and the federal government passed a law that took the right to vote away from all polygamists.  Interest in national political parties gradually increased.  The growing appeal of these parties led to an interesting event on Provo’s Center Street in November 10, 1888.

Two budding Democrats, W.A.C. Smoot and Utah County Sheriff Thomas Fowler, bet two fledglong Republicans, Alexander Wilkins and John W. Brown, that incumbent Democrat Grover Cleveland would defeat Republican Benjamin Harrison in the 1888 presidential election.  When Harrison won, the losing Democrats paid their debt by wheeling the two Republicans down Provo’s unpaved Center Street in wheelbarrows.

The Provo Silver Band provided music for the unique parade.  The route ran from University Avenue to 500 West.  The occasion drew the largest parade crowd since the last circus had come to town.

After the parade, a crowd gathered in front of the bank and listened to impromptu speeches from three Republicans and three Democrats.   The popularity of party politics received a boost from this event, and by 1891 both political parties had been officially established in Provo.

This plaque is located in Memorial Park, to see other plaques in the series click here.

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