Memories at Mountain Dell
From the summit of Big Mountain, the pioneers had their first glimpse of the Salt Lake Valley. The natural gorge, which rests south of Big Mountain and the northwest slopes of Little Mountain was known as Hanks or Big Canyon Creek and named by Ephraim Hanks as Mountain Dell.
As one of the handcart companies approached the bottom of Big Mountain, food and supplies were low. As they approached the Pony Express Station, Isabelle Siddoway, an eleven-year-old girl in the company, asked the station keeper if she could have a potato growing in the ground. Isabelle said it was the most delicious thing she had ever eaten.
Francis Armstrong purchased the property at Mountain Dell in 1870 and gave it to his wife, Isabelle Siddoway Armstrong. Mountain Dell was use as a summer farm by the Armstrong family. In 1882 Francis built a stone farmhouse; the farmhouse stood until July 1999 when it was torn down.
Francis kept two racehorses, Chief and Scout. He also raised peacocks at the farm. Francis loved to race the train down Parley’s Canyon on one of his horses. He would jump the track just in front of the train. As the train went by, the conductor would shake his fist at Francis.
One day the conductor appeared at a meeting in the Mayor’s Office, complaining of some fool who was always trying to race the train down Parley’s Canyon. After listening to the man’s complaint, Mayor Armstrong spoke up and said, “Well, sir, I am that fool. I have enough confidence in myself and my horse to know that I am in no danger.”