When I was in the Hurricane Valley Museum I noticed tucked away the old National Register of Historic Places plaque for the now demolished High School and asked if I could take a picture of it.
Hurricane High School
This building was constructed in 1935-36 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. The WPA was one of several New Deal programs designed to stimulate economic recovery during the Great Depression while providing needed public services and facilities. Over 230 public works buildings were constructed in Utah; approximately half of them retain their architectural integrity.
When the Hurricane High School opened in 1936, it housed 375 students in grades 7 through 12. These grades met here until 1977. It was used as a middle school from 1977 until 1990 when it began to function as part of the elementary school.
The architectural design blends Moderne and Neoclassical stylistic elements. The cost of construction was $110,000, forty-five percent of which was furnished by the federal government.
This 1939 O’Mahony Dining Car # 1107 has been placed on the National Registry of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior.
This classic dining car was constructed and displayed at the World’s Fair in New York in 1939, towed to Massachusetts where it stayed 14 years before being moved to Rhode Island and finally to Oakley, Utah in 2007.
The toughest, heartbreaking barrier to the colonization of “Utah’s Dixie” was the Black Ridge between New Harmony and Pintura, north of Toquerville, Utah.
A deep, rough, lava flow clogged the valley from the base of the towering Hurricane cliffs on the east, to the foothills of Pine Valley Mountain on the west.
The jolting rocks subjected the pioneer wagons, animals, and human tempers to a terrific strain. There were broken axles, broken wheels and fellies, broken kingbolts and run-off rims, to try the patience of the weary travelers who were forced to resort to their own ingenuity in making repairs, being miles away from any possible relief.
Apostle George A. Smith, for whom St. George was named, proclaimed this road to be “The most desperate piece of road that I have ever traveled in my life, the whole ground being covered for miles with stones, volcanic rock, cobbleheads – and in places deep sand.”
This old pioneer trail and Peter’s Leap Road, were both used until 1869, when the winding road was constructed along the east side of Ash Creek. Many Dixie peddlers and freighters traveled this road daily with wagons.
Peter’s Leap, two and and one-half miles north of Pintura, was no doubt the worst part of the route that ignited Apostle Smith’s ire.
The road followed a long-used Indian Trail, crossed Leap Creek Canyon, a 165 foot gorge cut in lava rock, at a point approximately one and one-half miles west of where Leap Creek joins Ash Creek.
Peter Shirts, a Cedar City pioneer, inspired the name. Shirts was paid $300.00 by the Washington County Commission, to build a road along the old Indian Trail on the west edge of the Black Ridge.
When asked how wagons would get across the deep canyon that barred the way, he replied, “We’ll Leap It!” The 165-foot canyon-crossing became “Peter’s Leap.” The stream became “Leap Creek.”
The road leading into the gorge from the south could be built at a somewhat reasonable grade of 15 percent. Down the north face, however, the dugway grade was a dizzying 30 percent grade.
A sturdy windlass was erected on top of the north canyon wall. The wagons coming from the north were stopped here. The cargo was lashed securely to the wagon box. The teams were unhitched and led down the winding trail to the canyon bottom. Then the wagons were eased down the canyon wall. The teams were then hitched to the wagons and they were pulled out of the canyon, up a gradual slope through a break in the south canyon wall. The distance between the top of the north canyon wall to the point where the road leveled out on the south, was 1000 feet.
Freighters and peddlers coming from the south, unhitched their teams in the bottom of the canyon and the windlass pulled their loaded wagons up the face of the cliff.
In 1869, the Territorial Legislature appropriated $1000.00 to build a good surveyed road along the skirt of the Hurricane Cliffs, east of Ash Creek. This road was well-graded and wound in and out of the ravines. It was a single track, with turnouts to let traffic pass.
This road was used as a main route from Salt Lake City to Utah’s Dixie, and to California from 1869 to 1925.
In 1925, a two-lane graveled road was built over the Black Ridge. Many years later this road was replaced by Interstate 15.
Peter’s Leap Indian Cave
The early pioneers discovered an Indian Cave, near the top of the canyon wall, at Peter’s Leap. It is accessible from the south rim, by following a narrow trail down the face of the cliff to an opening over 100 feet above Leap Creek.
Early settlers found woven yucca sandals, arrowheads, spearpoints, bone awls and other items in the Cave, as well as deposits of bat dung or guano.
In January of 1858, a group of workers went to Peter’s Leap Cave and excavated the bat droppings. Nitrate was leached out and combined with sulfur and sagebrush ashes. The result was saltpeter, the main ingredient of old-fashioned gunpowder. Production cost: twenty-five cents per keg.
Sylvan was born in 1917 to Joseph and Ellen Wittwer, who were among the Early Settlers of this Valley. He graduated from Hurricane High School in 1935, from Utah State Agricultural College in 1939, received his Doctors Degree from the University of Missouri in 1943, and was Director of the Michigan State University Experiment Station from 1965 to 1983.
Sylvan is recognized as a world authority on Greenhouse Culture; has published books and scores of scientific papers in this field; and has been invited to participate in major food conferences all over the world.
He has served with distinction on the most prestigious national committees, appointed by the U.S. Congress, Secretary of Agriculture, and the National Academy of Science.
Probably no horticulturist in the past 50 years, has done as much to promote the cause of technological agriculture and agricultural research on a world-wide scale, than has Sylvan H. Wittwer. He has received countless world and national awards in the field of Agriculture. His fame and success has not altered his great dedication to God, church, and country. He is Patriarch, past Stake President and Bishop in Lansing Michigan L.D.S. Stake, and has actively served as a leader and supporter of the Boy Scouts of America.
We salute Sylvan as a noble native son with a rich heritage in Utah’s Dixie!
Kolob By Owen Sanders When lassitude tugs at your body And robs you of zest to exist Come with me to Kolob And walk through the mild morning mist.
Huddle at dawn on a hillside
And scan the green valley below;
Listen to snapping and crackle of twigs
And thumping of hooves on the go!
When shots re-echo at daybreak
Your pulse starts pounding anew
As you search to locate your quarry
And forget the breathtaking view.
Come back with me to Kolob It’s fun to be with you up there Sluff off the work-a-day worry In the sparkling, clear mountain air!
Kolob is a majestic jewel in an awesome setting of rare scenic charm. It is one mile higher than Hurricane City and can be reached in a few minutes by driving constantly upward from plateau to plateau through spellbinding beauty at every turn in the road.
Pioneers who colonized Toquerville, Virgin City and Grafton, also ranched on Kolob. They hobbled and milked scores of half-wild cows, fresh from the lush, green pastures of Kolob and the desert rangeland far below. From the milk and cream, they made many crocks and barrels of butter and zesty cheese which was then hauled by wagon down the steep mountain road and sold or traded to merchants in Cedar City, St. George and the mining towns of Silver Reef, Frisco, Newhouse, Pioche and Delemar.
From Kolob Peak, Zion Canyon can be seen far below and the St. George Temple is visible 50 miles away and one mile below. For over fifty years, a pole gate swung between two giant ponderosa pines in Black Canyon on the road to Kolob. Until this gate was opened, livestock could not drift from the lower range onto Upper Kolob. Sheer sandstone cliffs formed a high natural barrier.
From the West and South, several massive pinnacles jut out from Kolob and rise several thousand feet from their base like fabulous “Islands in the Sky.” Some of these have a surface area of several hundred acres. By fencing across a narrow neck of connecting land, cattle and sheep could be held on this land.
Descendants of Kolob ranchers helped colonize The City of Hurricane in 1906. Now, Their descendants have homes and cabins on these ranches. Visiting Kolob is an exhilarating and unforgettable experience!
This Plaque sponsored by James Allen Ballard and his wife Joan Webb Ballard In honor of their pioneer progenitors, the Ballard and Webb Families, Who helped colonize the city of Hurricane!
This plow was donated to the museum by Mr. & Mrs. Leslie E. Nelson, of Hurricane, Utah.
History of the plow is from Mr. Nelson’s grandmother, Hulda Ellertson Kay, who was housekeeper for Apostle Hyde during the period of 1875.
The Nelson family owned the original Hyde home in Spring City, Utah. This home was built of the same stone as the Manti Temple and still stands today as strong as it was when built. It was listed on The Utah State Register of Historic Sites on May 5, 1971, as Orson Hyde Home. This was in recognition of its architectural and historic significance.
According to information given to Mr. Nelson by his grandmother, this plow was used by the Hyde family during this period. Other farm and garden items were also found at the home. The large garden hoe that is in the museum is one of those items. The Nelsons have part of the old pump that was also on the property which is now standing as a yard light at their home in Hurricane.
Vegas Vic is the smaller twin to Wendover Will, both completed in 1952 and both greeting people from Nevada Casinos. In 1980 Vegas Vickie joined Vegas Vic on Fremont Street in Las Vegas and in 1981 River Rick was erected at the Pioneer in Laughlin.
Salt Lake to Southern California Road – Point of Mountain
“Took leave of my wife and Br. Brown drove ahead and found a very hard hill to ascend which is a divide between Utah and Salt Lake Valleys… Proceeding down the divide we came in sight of Utah Lake. This is a beautiful sheet of water some forty miles long and lies in a sort of triangle. It is surrounded by a large valley covered with a heavy growth of grass.”
I was exploring in the area and thought this was a cool looking building, I wasn’t sure what it was and was taking some photos planning to research it later when I happened to see an old friend who grew up in the area – she told me it was the city building and she remembers going with her mom to pay the utility bill there as a kid.
Adolph and Hyrum Merz learned how to carve stone monuments Switzerland and made the cemetery fountain for Mt Pleasant, Utah.
It was made to look like a tree stump and was very detailed. They did it free of charge for their community and it was admired by many. It was later moved from the cemetery to the front yard of the Relic Home.
The plaque on the fountain says:
This water fountain carved in stone from the hills north of Moroni, Utah was made by Hyrum and Adolph Merz and presented by them to the City of Mt. Pleasant, Utah in 1901.