1969: UFOs reported, man blows up 'White Lady's' ghost hangout
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 year started with sightings of UFOs by some residents of Wellington. At the time the paper wondered if it wasn't more a reflection of the space race which was nearing a moon landing by man that very summer, but shades of the Roswell incidents came into the sightings, because the military explained them away in that they thought they were weather balloons that were launched from the Green River Missile Base. Other than that the shiny objects in the middle of the day that had "bright rays trailing it" never did get much play anywhere else.
Also an unusual burglary that led to a stolen International pickup truck and a number of items from the Price Trading Company in Price took place in early January. A car dealer first reported a pickup truck stolen from their show room on Sunday morning was followed by the report of four televisions and some cleaning machines being removed from the PTC Store at nearly the same time. Police surmised that someone had taken the one to carry the others. They were proved right when a motorist in Salt Lake City helped some men in a pickup on I-15 that had run out of gas. While giving them the gas he realized they had four televisions in the back of the truck covered by a canvas tarp. He thought that was suspicious so he reported it to the Salt Lake Police Department. The truck was later found abandoned and one suspect questioned in Salt Lake. Price Police suspected a certain person and went to the Wasatch Front and showed the photo to the good Samaritan motorist and he identified the photo as being one of the men. A compliant was sworn out against the man immediately. Then on Jan. 21, Salt Lake police caught him burglarizing a store and arrested him. The middle of winter also featured a "professional" burglary of the Woolworth Store in Price where thieves got away with over $2,000 worth of goods and robberies in Green River in which six suspects were arrested near Woodside.
February also brought vandalism to a beauty shop in Price. Emma's Beauty Lounge was literally destroyed when vandals broke through the front door and tore up the shop. This followed a burglary that took place about the same time that Woolworth's was burglarized.
Late February brought on a fire that destroyed the Carbon County road shops. It started during the noon hour on Feb. 17 in the building located west of Price on Highway 6 and the cause was suspected at the time to be faulty wiring. The fire started in a ceiling and spread, although three county employees who had just returned from their lunch fought it with fire extinguishers and at one point almost had it contained. However the dense smoke drove them out of the building. The loss was estimated at $60,000.
The year also brought about a heightened awareness by police and the public of drug problems that were building the county. Arrests of teenagers with drugs and suppliers caused alarm among law enforcement and citizens. In the past alcohol had been a problem with under age offenders, but now ti seemed that drugs were growing as as much or more of a problem. Anti-narcotic campaigns began in earnest across the county and politicians chimed in on defeating the culture of drug use. Numerous articles appeared throughout 1969 pertaining to this seemingly new and pervasive problem. One of them, an article on Oct. 2 stated that according to a state study five percent of the students at Carbon High were either using or had used drugs.
In March citizens in the county passed a bond to fund a sewage treatment plant and collection system in the county and for some municipalities. The bond, set at $1,600,000, was passed in all 16 voting precincts with a total vote of 1375-476.
On April 21 a public hearing was held on the proposal to build a by-pass road for Highway 6 in relation to the Price-Wellington area. The hearing was a "corridor" hearing which would explore the different options for where the highway would run when relocated. While a route north of Price was being considered at the meeting, one paralleling the Price River was considered to be the most economical. Opinions in the crowd that attended were mixed with some expressing that a route like that would reduce the traffic problems in Price, while others said it would kill the town. In October the Utah State Highway Commission picked the corridor along the river as the one to be used and plans moved ahead for the design of the road.
May brought about the confiscation of a movie from the Price Theater because of alleged obscenity. The move "Candy" was closed down after showing for two nights to packed houses. The theater owner, Joe Santi, was cited and had to appear in court later that week. The movie came with warnings that no one under 16 should be admitted, but Santi had restricted entrance to only those over 18 years old. He told the court that the staff had checked IDs of all entering and turned a number of people away for being too young or for having false identification. The movie was replaced for the rest of the week by a movie named "Play Dirty." The next week the film was returned to Santi after Judge Tom Platis saw it in a private viewing at the theater and deemed it not obscene under the constitutional definition of the word.
In May the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad announced that by mid-June the California Zephyr would become a thing of the past. For years the railroad had been threatening to cut the passenger rail service through the area and locals did everything they could to stop that from happening. But by the late 1960s airline service had literally destroyed much of the passenger service around the nation except on the east coast. The announcement came as a blow to the area and to local employees of the D&RG.
In June the Castle Valley Job Corps Center officially closed its doors after four years of operations. The corpsmen who were are the center were actually all gone by the end of May but some maintenance personnel still remained and were closing up the center. The center had been good and bad for the area. In terms of work a number of projects in the two county area were built by the corpsmen, including the Cedar Mountain overlook that views the San Rafael Swell. It is still in use to this day. The bad was the tensions between local kids and the ones at the center. Numerous conflicts had taken place over the years between the groups. In October, Governor Calvin Rampton suggested the idled center be used as a drug rehabilitation center. But on Oct. 27 a group of Carbon officials and citizens met with the governor and protested his plan. Many locals wanted the center to be turned into a vocational training center because many of the facilities at the College of Eastern Utah were old at the time.
In July the "White Lady of Spring Canyon" legend took a new turn as a young man dynamited a building in Latuda (twice) so that she would no longer roam the area. The reports of a ghost by that name had persisted for years. He actually reported that there was a body in the building, but upon investigation no body was found. He was arrested for destruction of private property by the use of explosives. He also didn't kill the legend, because to this day people still say they see her roaming the canyon.
Again in the fall of 1969, school did not start on time. Again the holdup was negotiations between Carbon School District and the Carbon County Education Association. A gap of $200 in the yearly salaries of starting teachers was the holdup. After seven and a half school days of extended vacation, students finally returned to classes on Sept. 9.
In September, after a franchise was granted by the city council, the voters approved it, and Mountain Fuel Supply installed a distribution system, the majority of Helper residents were able to turn on gas appliances. The first appliance lit was a light in front of Dr. James Ruggeri's home at 608 South Main Street.
The war in Vietnam was never far from the minds of Carbonites either. In October it was revealed that another young man from the county had been killed in the conflict. Specialist Four Antonio M. Vasquez was reported killed on Oct. 9. He was a gunner on a military aircraft which was hit by enemy fire and the aircraft crashed and burned.