1957: A year to build, demolish, and change
Editor's Note: This is one of a series of articles about the history of the Sun Advocate and the county it covers as a newspaper. These articles are being prepared in commemoration of the 120th anniversary of the newspaper's birth in 1891.
The trial of Steve Denos for the murder of two women in late 1956 set off the year of 1957. The double murder, which shocked the county, was big news as the new year came in. The trial began on Feb. 11. Denos had entered a plea of innocence based on insanity. The Sun Advocate reported on Feb. 14 that the first few days of the trial were "standing room only" days as people packed the court room to get a glimpse of what was going on. The trial was not long and drawn out, because by that next Sunday the jury had decided he was guilty of the single murder he had been charged with at that time. It was recommended that he be given a life sentence that is what he was sentenced to late in the month.
The late fifties was also a time of building and as the county began to take bids for the new courthouse to be constructed at 100 East and Main, and the city was taking bids for the new library to be attached to the city complex, the school board was up to its own projects with the announcement of a school bond vote on Feb. 17 to secure funding to not only build a new high school building (which would separate students at the Carbon High/Carbon College from college students) but to also build a new high school in East Carbon. The voters passed the bond by a vote of 2,308 to 626.
A big change in daily living also came to Price and Helper in 1957. Up until that time most in the area picked up their phone and got an operator to connect them to whomever they were calling. At the beginning of the year the system in the area started to change to a dial up system using rotary dial phones. An article in the Sun Advocate on January 17 pointed out how big a change it would be for everyone, including phone company employees.
"Publishing an entirely new directory with 4,500 new numbers is no small task," stated the paper. "There will be a delay in changing some of the customers service to one and two family lines until after the new dial operation has been placed in service."
The cost of the change over was estimated to be over $1.1 million. Before that time most people were on lines called party lines that they shared with a number of other residents of the area. The new directories with numbers in them were distributed in February.
On Feb. 28 the paper announced the big exodus that was going on in both city and county governments as the city started to demolish the old Carnegie Library and across the street from it the county prepared to tear down the old court house so the new one could be built. County employees at the time were moving into offices in the city complex where they would remain until the new building was finished in 1958.
Lady Justice falls
There was at least one piece of history destroyed along with the building. Lady Justice, the statue which had stood on the top of the old Carbon County Courthouse since 1909. The statue fell down and was damaged.
According to the news article at the time she fell directly on her head when she was knocked off the building. She also wasn't whole, having lost part of her sword in a bad storm in 1947. For years, many people said that she had been secreted away by citizens and was hidden in someones basement or garage, but reports investigated by the Sun Advocate a few years ago show that witnesses saw her laying in the city dump in pieces just before she was covered with dirt not long after the knock off her lofty perch.
In July three men were killed in a "bounce" at the Castle Gate mine. One got away from the fumes of the event but the other three were overcome by the gas and died even though they were brought out quickly. At the end of the year three more men were killed in the Kaiser Mine NO. 1 in a cave in.
Probably the biggest controversy of the year came about because of two now familiar roads to Carbon residents; Willow Creek/Indian Canyon (then Highway U-33 now U.S. 191) and Nine Mile Canyon Road (then U-53). Both roads were relatively unimproved at the time and there was controversy largely between western Carbon residents and those in the central part of the county over which road should become the main route and be improved by the state for transport between Duchesne/Uintah counties and Carbon County. The Utah State Road Commission did a study which showed not only that Indian Canyon should be the route to be improved, but that it would cost much less. Finally in September the Carbon County Commission backed the Indian Canyon proposal (in a 2 to 1 vote) as the connecting route between Highways 40 and 50. The controversy left a lot of bitter feelings in the county for some time. In the late 1960s the state abandoned Nine Mile Road and turned it over to the county.
Another road's fate that affects Carbon County to this day was also determined in 1957. The United States Department of Commerce, which was overseeing the planning and building of the interstate highways system, announced in October that it basically was ignoring the recommendation of the Utah Highway Commission and rather than run the route that would become known as I-70 through Price and Spanish Fork Canyon to connect with I-15, that they had picked an alternative route from Green River to Woodside over the old Spanish trail and down through Salina Canyon. It was a blow to the local area, although today, interestingly enough many months there is more traffic on Highway 6 headed northeast towards Salt Lake City than there is on I-70 going towards Las Vegas.