1938 School Bus / Train Accident


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2018-01-09 13.59.09

1938 School Bus / Train Accident Memorial


Bus Passengers:


  • Rela Marie Beckstead
  • Neal Wilson Densley
  • Robert Hansen Egbert
  • William H. Glazier
  • George Albert Hunt
  • Lois Anna Johnson
  • Byard Larson
  • Rosa Larson
  • Naomi Lewis
  • Helen Lloyd
  • Lois Rae Miller
  • Virginia Nelson
  • Roland Blaine Page
  • Louis Duane Parkinson
  • Allen Ole Petersen
  • Kenneth C. Peterson
  • Harold W. Sandstrom
  • Farrold H. Silcox (Driver)
  • Carol Vincent Stephensen
  • Viola Sundquist
  • Naomi Webb
  • Wilbert Webb
  • Dean Lee Roy Winward
  • Helen Young


  • Mack Bateman
  • Chloe Beckstead
  • Manuel Beckstead
  • Marjorie Beckstead
  • Doug Brown
  • Laraine Freeman
  • Oneva Green
  • Marjorie Groves
  • Louise Hardman
  • Glen Kump
  • Manford Osborne
  • Ida Smith
  • Mabel Smith
  • Ann Webb
  • Russell Webb

2018-01-09 13.58.59

Tragedy Strikes Small Farming Cummunities

December 1, 1938 dawned as a snowy, foggy, eerily quiet day.  While a school bus headed through the dense winter storm toward Jordan High School, a loaded Denver and Rio Grande freight train rolled north toward Salt Lake City.  Near the railroad crossing at 10200 South and 400 West, the driver stopped the bus.   He opened the door to look beyond the thick fog but did not see the 80+ car “Flying Ute” train approaching at over 50 miles per hour.  At 8:43 a.m., the wet rubber tires of the bus strained up the gentle grade and pulled slowly forward across the tracks.  Upon seeing the bus, the train crew immediately applied the brakes, but the collision was inevitable.  The tragedy killed 23 children and the bus driver.  The 15 survivors faced a lifetime of serious physical injuries and emotional scars.  The devastation felt by all residents of the South Salt Lake Valley is impossible to describe in words alone.  At the time, Jordan High was the only high school serving the present day boundaries from the Cottonwood Canyons to 8400 west, and Point of the Mountain to 6400 South.  The impact and tragic loss left no family untouched.  Every South Jordan home had lost a son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousin or friend.

Tragedy Draws National Attention

This bus/train accident sent the community and the nation into mourning while various religious, charitable and governmental organizations rallied to support the area.  Local and national media coverage brought an outpouring of sympathy for the victims and their families.  Business and governmental investigations combed through massive amounts of data to determine what practical improvements could be made to avoid similar catastrophes.  Countless generations have benefited from railroad crossing laws and mechanical crossing arms.  Often taken for granted is a mandatory requirement for bus drivers to not only stop at railroad crossings, but also to open their door and driver side window to look and listen for oncoming trains.  Resulting from a disaster in this small Utah town, these national regulations are still in place today, making the loves of many school children much safer.


Naomi Lewis, age 17, penned this poem the night before she died in the bus/train wreck.
Earth’s Angels.
 I like to think that the wind
Is Angles in the trees,
Stanley noble Angels
that no one ever sees.
When the world is peaceful
and people are living right,
They rustle the branches gently
throughout the entire night.
But when the world is wicked
Then sorrow bursts from the trees,
and it sounds like the wailing,
woeful hum
of hostile atrocious bees.
Buy in my imagining
It’s angels sorrowing in the tree.
At night they call a council
Of angels on the earth,
Each angel chooses a mortal
to guide to his preordained worth.
So I like to think that wind
Is angels in the trees
Stanley noble angels
That no-one ever, ever sees.
This monument is located in the Cemetery in South Jordan.

South Jordan Cemetery


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2018-01-09 14.00.47

Henry Beckstead selected land immediately west of the first meetinghouse in South Jordan for use as a “burying ground.”  The land was donated by James Oliver, an early settler in South Jordan, and is the site of the South Jordan cemetery at 1055 West 10750 South.

Two month old John A. Bills, son of William A. Bills, died on September 9, 1863, and Mr Beckstead selected the burial site the same day.  The Bills family held the funeral September 10, 1863, making the burial of John A. the first in the town cemetery of South Jordan.

Henry Byram Beckstead became the first sexton of the South Jordan Cemetery and served for sixty-seven years, until his death in 1930.  Wallace Beckstead, Pete Winward, Tom Sheppick, Alma Holt and Alden Winters served successively as sextons.

People originally used large, white, wooden markers on the graves.  The names and other data were painted in black.  Moroni Olivery made the wooden grave markers in his cabinet shop.  Berha Holt grew gladiolas and Harriet Christiansen arranged sprays for funeral services.

The rural South Jordan Cemetery was five acres in size.  It was the only Cemetery south of the West Jordan Cemetery and west of the Jordan River at the time it was designed.  The South Jordan Ward maintained the cemetery until ownership was turned over to the City on October 1, 1945.  In 1960, Royal Beckstead sold two and a half acres of land to the City to extend the cemetery northward.

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2018-01-09 14.04.16

South Jordan Veteran’s Memorial


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2018-01-09 14.00.53

South Jordan Veteran’s Memorial

Our lives are filled with symbolism. This monument, dedicated to those who served their country, is symbolic of sacrifice.  May those who come here find peace, courage, and hope.

The circular form represents life and existence, the eternal qualities that surround and are a part of all mankind.  “Honor, Pride and Pain” are defined by artist L’Dean Trueblood in her sculpture of two soldiers.  In the service and sacrifice of war, it is that noble part of the soldier’s character that we honor.

The two soldiers stand as silent sentinels to those buried here.  Whether under a blue sky with a warm, gentle summer breeze or the cold, damp, blustery darkness of a stormy winter night, the soldiers  stand, unyielding to the elements until the day when these graves will be empty and Another will stand guard over all humanity.  As if on an alter and as a statement of sacrifice, the dead are listed around the soldiers’ feet.  Each soldier who gave his or her life in battle has a star in front of their name.

Below the names lies a reflecting pool, not of water, but polished black granite.  The maps represent places where battles were fought and courage conquered fear.  A circular field of earth tones surrounds the monument.  Reds represent Mother Earth and the fact that we, the living, walk in freedom on the blood and sacrifice of many.

Polished black represents the area of the dead, where dignity should reside.  The four white benches stand for the area of living – a place where mortality may return to find solace, comfort, or pay homage and respect for those who have sacrificed for us.

– Written by Joey Clegg –

Monument dedicated by Elder Boyd K. Packer, May 4, 2002

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This monument is located in the Cemetery in South Jordan.

Paragonah Fort


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2018-02-18 18.11.15

Paragonah Fort

Paragonah was founded in 1852. Indian troubles caused its abandonment a year later until 1855 when the Pioneer Fort was built. The site was selected and dedicated by President Brigham Young. The Fort was 105 feet square with walls 3 feet thick at the base. A second story was added in 1857. A large room served as Church, School and Amusement Hall. Homes were built around the inside of the wall. The public square includes the site of the Fort, which was torn down in 1879.

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Paragonah Town Square


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2018-02-18 18.12.16

Paragonah Town Square

This area, a part of the Great Basin, has evolved from the time of Lake Bonneville. It has known Anasazi Indian civilizations as evidenced by nearby ruins. It has seen the Dominguez-Escalante expedition of 1776 which passed west of this valley. It has hosted explorers and traders on the Old Spanish Trail which came through Bear Valley and entered the Parowan Valley at Little Creek. It knew the Jedediah S. Smith expedition in 1826. Even Parley P. Pratt and his company explored here in 1849 to search for sites for Mormon colonization.

Apostle George A. Smith led an expedition and colonized what is now Parowan in the year 1851. That spring, 40 acres were cultivated near Black Rock, south of town. In 1852 others joined the farming venture, building rude huts for shelter at “Red Creek,” as it was originally named. In 1853 the settlement was abandoned due to Indian skirmishes, and was not resettled until 1855 when a fort was erected.

The town’s name was originally spelled “Paragoonah,” an Indian word meaning “many watering holes.” Artesian wells dotted the landscape, which today have been replaced by gravity-flow sprinkling systems that provide water to the abundant stands of alfalfa.

This Centennial year of 1996 finds a peaceful community with a spirit of unity, freedom from density of population, clear spring water, and clean air. Nearby canyons provide ample opportunities for fishing, hunting, and other recreation. Old homes and barns, the Black Rock Cave, and Anasazi remnants make it historically unique. Today, the proud community honors its past and future in the Town/Church square at this spot.

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Layton, Utah


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Layton was settled in the 1850s as an outgrowth of Kaysville, and is named after Christopher Layton, a Mormon colonizer and leader. It was included in the boundaries when Kaysville was incorporated as a city in 1868, but by the 1880s many Layton residents wanted to separate from the city. They challenged Kaysville’s authority to tax their property, claiming they received no municipal services. This dispute reached the United States Supreme Court in 1894 as the case of Linford v. Ellison, which was decided in favor of the Layton property owners. The separatist movement finally succeeded in 1902, when Layton became an independent unincorporated area. After further growth it was made an incorporated town in 1920.

Related posts:

Layton’s First Post Office


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2018-01-09 10.07.22

DUP Marker # 555 in Layton, for other DUP Markers visit this page.

In my exploring and searching out these historic markers I talked to an employee at Layton Cycle & Sports and asked about the plaque that was supposed to be on the building – he said that a lady had taken it until after the remodeling so I’ll try back later and hopefully get photos of it.

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