Classifieds Business Directory Jobs Real Estate Autos Legal Notices ePubs Subscribe Archives
Today is September 15, 2014
home news sports feature opinion fyi society obits multimedia

Front Page » March 15, 2007 » Focus on Wellington » Senior Endeavors and a Long Life
Published 2,741 days ago

Senior Endeavors and a Long Life


Print PageEmail PageShareGet Reprints

By TOM MCCOURT
Sun Advocate Columnist

This cabin, built by Robert Snyder in 1882, served as a home, school and museum over the years. Presently it sits in Wellington Park along Highway 6, where many visitors stop to eat lunch or take a break.

On March 21, Wellington will be 100 years old. On that date in 1907 the town was officially incorporated with the approval of the Carbon County Board of Commissioners. Setters had occupied the area for 28 years at the time of incorporation and it had been a long and difficult journey for the little community to become a town.

Originally the townsite was wilderness, a place frequented by coyotes, bands of roving Indians, trappers, and outlaws. In the early 1800s a branch of the Old Spanish Trail followed the Price River from Woodside to a point near Wellington and then turned south to rejoin the main trail near Fuller's Bottom at the head of the San Rafael River.

In 1861 Brigham Young sent a scouting party to Castle Valley to assess the potential for establishing Mormon settlements east of the Wasatch Mountains. Brigham's emissaries from the Wasatch Front were not overly impressed with the Wasatch Behind. They reported that the only possible use for the country on this side of the mountain was a hunting ground for Indians and to hold the rest of the world together.

Early settlers of Wellington (1880's), Jason Tidwell and his wife.

In 1865, William Price, LDS Bishop of the town of Goshen, trapped along the Price River to a point near Wellington. Originally the river was called White River, but the name was changed to Price River in honor of the bishop with the trap line. In 1877, with free farm land becoming scarce on the Wasatch Front, Brigham Young sent another scouting party to Castle Valley to re-access the agricultural potential. This time the scouts were not so picky. They reported that crops and cows might be raised after all on that barren land that was holding the rest of the world together.

Caleb Rhodes and Abraham Powell settled near Price in 1877, and Jefferson Tidwell was the first white settler at Wellington in 1879. It is said that Tidwell, William Averett, Elias Cox, Elam Cheney, and a few others were answering church "calls" by the new LDS president, John Taylor, to establish farms along the water courses in Castle Valley.

Actually, the first white man to build a dugout cabin near Wellington was a trapper and famous river running pioneer named Nathaniel Galloway. Galloway had a cabin near Wellington in the mid-1870s, but it was only a seasonal camp. He didn't file for a homestead patent and never attempted to be a farmer. He is not listed as one of the pioneers of the settlement even though he did attend some early social functions and played his fiddle for a dance or two.

Jefferson Tidwell claimed a farm near "Dead Horse Crossing" on the Price River. Dead Horse Crossing was somewhere near the west side of the modern town and is said to have been named when horses died from drinking alkali water from seeps near the river. (Could it be that the river was originally named White River because of alkali stains along the riverbanks?) Other settlers came to the area between 1880 and 1882. Thomas Zundell, Sidney Allred, George Downard, George and Thomas Blaine, William Averett, Albert McMullen, and Robert Snyder, all claimed farms along the south side of the river near Dead Horse Crossing. A dam was constructed and a 2.5-mile ditch dug to bring water to the fields. Thomas Zundell and Robert Snyder made the first log cabins in the area. The early settlers had a tough time holding a dam across the river. It kept washing out. Floods and crop failures were a plague on the community in the early years.

The year 1883 brought a new group of settlers. The Montis, Yeager, Barney, Gale, Green, Thompson, Strong, Hill, and Reed families all claimed farmland along the river. That same year a Sunday school was organized, and in 1884 a branch of the Price LDS ward was created with Jefferson Tidwell as the presiding elder. In 1882 and 1883 railroad tracks were laid north of the river and trains were soon winding their way toward Price, Helper, and greener pastures on the Wasatch Front. Trains didn't stop at Dead Horse Crossing, but took on water, coal, freight, and passengers at "Price River Station," a few miles to the west.

A flood swamped the downtown area in 1939.

In 1885 a community schoolhouse was constructed south of the river that became known as the "old stockade." The building was made by planting cottonwood logs standing upright that were then covered with a thatch and dirt roof. The floor was dirt and a canvas tarp served as a door. The schoolhouse "stockade" was heated with an open fireplace, and it burned down in 1888.

The year 1886 brought another large group of settlers. The Thayn, Jones, Johnson, Blackburn, Liddell, Simmons, Smith, Jensen, Vance, Ellis, and Edwards families all took up land along the river. There was still no official townsite. The community was a collection of hardscrabble farms scattered for nearly 10 miles along the river. Farms began a few miles east of Price and extended to the Farnham area a few miles southeast of the eventual townsite.

Eighteen ninety was a pivotal year for the little community. The railroad decided the place needed a formal name on their maps and manifests. Railroad officials approached community leaders and suggested the name "Jefferson" in honor of Jefferson Tidwell, the town's first settler. The shy and unpretentious Tidwell declined the honor, and his wife, Sarah Seely Tidwell, suggested the name "Wellington" in honor of her brother, Justus Wellington Seely. Wellington Seely was a well-respected pioneer leader in Castle Valley at the time, and it is said that some people were already calling the community "Wellington" in his honor. The town of Orangeville, in Emery County, was named for his uncle, Orange Seely. The name "Wellington" stuck, and the little town was named for a man who never lived there.

This was also the year the official townsite was selected and surveyed. The LDS church organized the Wellington Ward that year with Albert McMullen as bishop. With no formal town organization, Bishop McMullen was recognized as the man with the "authority" to make decisions for the community. McMullen chose a site on the north side of the river, above the floodplain and near the railroad tracks, as the official site for the town. He and Eugene Branch were the first settlers to occupy the town when they moved log cabins from their farms to the newly surveyed town site. The location of the town didn't make everyone happy. Some settlers wanted the town to be on the south side of the river, away from the railroad tracks and more convenient to the Emery County road (Highway 10 in later years). The main road in the area ran north and south in those days. There was no well-established road going east to Green River.

The town was surveyed into nine city blocks with four lots per block. McMullen chose a lot for the church, school, church tithing building, and his own home. Everyone else was granted a city lot by drawing slips of paper from a hat. Several of the farmers constructed homes on city lots and began commuting to their fields along the river. The town was born. Two years later, in 1892, residents began a cooperative store, the town's first business venture, in the home of Eugene Branch. Townspeople constructed an open-air bowery on the church lot until a formal meetinghouse could be built.

Wellington developed as one of the few agricultural communities in Carbon County. Other towns in the area were products of the mining industry, with Price and Helper strongly influenced by the railroad. And even then, Wellington has been described as a community of coal miners who farm on weekends. Even in the early days, farmers had a tough time making a living in the gray dirt of Castle Valley. Most supplemented farm incomes with second jobs. Several worked in coal mines during the winter months and others hauled freight to the Uintah Basin with teams and wagons. Men like Peter Liddell trapped all winter to help make ends meet, and Sveren Grundvig, who came in 1888, cut and sold cedar posts and then ran a truck, hauling coal in a wagon from his mine in Dead Man Canyon. William Thayn and others got into the sheep business.

Wellington had a dry ice plant in town for many years. It closed in 1979.

The sheep business prospered in and around Wellington for many years. A large shearing corral and dipping vat was constructed east of town, and in 1915, 20,000 sheep were sheared there. To help with the local economy, Wellington petitioned the railroad several times for a depot in the town, but it never happened. Price River Station (Price City) was only a few miles up the tracks.

Water became a critical issue in the early years. Wellington was at the bottom of the ditch - and the river. Wellington was a farm community and there was much trouble and contention about people upstream using more than their share of the water. Pollution of the river became a major concern too. Originally, everyone used water from the river for household use. People would haul river water to their homes in barrels, settle the silt, and then boil the water before use, but the taste and water quality was terrible. Brigham tea (mountain rush) was often boiled with the water to help make it more palatable. Waterborne disease was common, and in 1909 Wellington had a major outbreak of typhoid fever.

George Milner had a large cistern constructed in town and was able to make a deal with the railroad to bring fresh water from Helper in railroad tank cars to fill the cistern. This helped the towns people a great deal. And in 1912 a small reservoir was constructed between Price and Wellington for culinary water. River water was delivered to the reservoir by the Price Canal, and then piped to homes in Wellington without being treated. The old cement tank on the hill north of Wellington is a remnant of that system. In 1919 Wellington was able to connect to the Price City water system that brought fresh water down Price Canyon from Colton Springs.

Also in 1912, Wellington filed an official protest against the city of Price for dumping raw sewage in the river. Price countered that since Wellington was no longer drawing drinking water from the river, it didn't matter. Lawyers haggled over the issue for some time, but the river remained an open sewer through the 1960s. A countywide sewer treatment system wasn't in place until 1971.

A post office was established in Wellington in 1892 in the home of Eugene Branch who also hosted the community co-op store. In the early days, outgoing mail was put in heavy canvas bags, hung on a metal pole near the railroad tracks, and the mail train conductor would snatch the bag from the moving train with a hook attached to a railcar. Incoming mail was simply tossed from the train in heavy canvas bags.

The first school in Wellington was held in the cabin of Robert Snyder. That cabin now stands in the Wellington City Park. In 1912 a very modern new school was constructed in Wellington on top of "school hill." The building cost $16,000, was made of brick, two stories tall, eight classrooms, and had "all the modern conveniences," including steam heat and indoor plumbing. Unfortunately, the top of school hill was at about the same elevation as the city water tank at the time, and city water pressure was insufficient to fill the water pipes in the new school. Old-fashioned outhouses had to be furnished as an afterthought. Predictably, the building burned to the ground in the late 1920s.

There was not enough water to fight the fire.

Two views of entering Wellington from the west. The utmost photo was taken recently; the one directly above is from the early 1950's.

In 1930 a new school was constructed at the bottom of school hill where city water pressure was better. That school served with many modifications for 54 years, until 1984 when a new elementary school was again constructed on top of school hill. The new school has adequate water pressure. The old school building now hosts city offices and the community Headstart program.

The first bridge across the Price River at Wellington was finished in 1918 on the west side of town. Floods took the first one, and a second was built in the 1920s. The town got electricity in 1929, and in 1934, city fathers scraped together enough money to have three streetlights installed. The old pioneer church building in town used carbide lights for evening meetings before electricity came to town. Wellington got a modern new church in 1954. It is still in use after many renovations.

The biggest event to happen in the 1930s was when a steam locomotive blew up just west of town. The train was traveling west and failed to stop for water at Woodside or Cedar Siding. By the time she got to Wellington boiler pressures were off the clock. The explosion killed three railroad men and was the talk of the town for several years.

The town has hosted several businesses over the years. Early stores were run by the Snow family, Leonard Grundvig, Bill and Ada Bitton, the Butler family, and Henry and Lila Rasmussen. But Wellington's major industries were sugar beets and dry ice. Area farmers produced many thousands of tons of sugar beets during the 1940s and 50s, and a "beet dump" was a major feature on main street for several years. Farmers hauled truckloads of sugar beets to the "dump" where they were loaded onto railroad cars.

In 1930 a high-pressure pocket of carbon dioxide gas was discovered in the Farnham area, and in 1935 a plant was constructed in Wellington to make dry ice from the gas. A five-mile pipeline took gas to the plant, and for 44 years (until 1979) the ice plant employed several people in town. Ice was packed and shipped in railroad cars. Soft drink companies use dry ice to carbonate beverages. The ice plant was officially granted status as Wellington's "essential war industry" during World War II. water to fight the fire.

An old school bus in Wellington that was nearly brand new when this photo was taken.

In 1930 a new school was constructed at the bottom of school hill where city water pressure was better. That school served with many modifications for 54 years, until 1984 when a new elementary school was again constructed on top of school hill. The new school has adequate water pressure. The old school building now hosts city offices and the community Head Start program.

The first bridge across the Price River at Wellington was finished in 1918 on the west side of town. Floods took the first one, and a second was built in the 1920s. The town got electricity in 1929, and in 1934, city fathers scraped together enough money to have three street lights installed. The old pioneer church building in town used carbide lights for evening meetings before electricity came to town. Wellington got a modern new church in 1954. It is still in use after many renovations.

The biggest event to happen in the 1930s was when a steam locomotive blew up just west of town. The train was traveling west and failed to stop for water at Woodside or Cedar Siding. By the time she got to Wellington boiler pressures were off the clock. The explosion killed three railroad men and was the talk of the town for several years.

The town has hosted several businesses over the years. Early stores were run by the Snow family, Leonard Grundvig, Bill and Ada Bitton, the Butler family, and Henry and Lila Rasmussen. But Wellington's major industries were sugar beets and dry ice. Area farmers produced many thousands of tons of sugar beets during the 1940s and 50s, and a "beet dump" was a major feature on Main Street for several years. Farmers hauled truckloads of sugar beets to the "dump" where they were loaded onto railroad cars.

In 1930 a high-pressure pocket of carbon dioxide gas was discovered in the Farnham area, and in 1935 a plant was constructed in Wellington to make dry ice from the gas. A five-mile pipeline took gas to the plant, and for 44 years (until 1979) the ice plant employed several people in town. Ice was packed and shipped in railroad cars. Soft drink companies use dry ice to carbonate beverages. The ice plant was officially granted status as Wellington's "essential war industry" during World War II.


Print PageEmail PageShareGet Reprints


Top of Page


 
Focus on Wellington  
March 15, 2007
Recent Focus
Quick Links
Subscribe via RSS
Related Articles  
Related Stories



Best viewed with Firefox
Get Firefox

© Sun Advocate, 2000-2013. All rights reserved. All material found on this website, unless otherwise specified, is copyright and may not be reproduced without the explicit written permission from the publisher of the Sun Advocate.
Legal Notices & Terms of Use    Privacy Policy    Advertising Info    FAQ    Contact Us
  RSS Feeds    News on Your Site    Staff Information    Submitting Content    About Us