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1937 brings changes to Carbon landscape

The landmark CEU Reeves Building, now demolished and replaced, was just beginning to take shape in 1937.

Sun Advocate publisher

(Editors 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 as the 120th anniversary of the newspaper's birth approaches in 2011.)

The year 1937 started cold and blustery, with news about snow piling up in the coal camps and in the towns around Carbon County, hampering work and travel being the big item in the Sun Advocate early that year.

But by March the warming up trend of the spring also brought renewed hope for the construction of what was to become Carbon College, and eventually Utah State University College of Eastern Utah as it is known today.

The Sun Advocate that year carried on its tradition of once a week publishing, filling the pages with local stories and opinions, and bringing new technology to bear to the business of newspaper publishing. The paper had been carrying photos with some stories since 1933, but in all cases the photos on the front page had been mug shots of people, including everyone from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the leadership of Shriners in the United States. Finally on April 23, 1937 the first photo of something other than a person having their photo taken in a studio setting appeared when a photo of the bridge at the bottom of Buckhorn Wash over the San Rafael River appeared on the front page of the paper. It had just been completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps and was to be dedicated that Saturday with a large crowd and a speech by Utah Governor Henry H. Blood.

"The ceremonies dedicating the important span, which opens up a huge new grazing and scenic area, are scheduled to start about 11 a.m.," stated the story in the paper that day. "...Arrangements are bing made for a large representation from the Price Chamber of Commerce....Many others from this county are expected to attend."

Today that bridge is a historical landmark, still standing over the water, but replaced by a much newer bridge. But in 1937 it was a breakthrough and so was the photo. However, no news photos anything like it appeared again on the front pages of the paper again in that year.

May of that year was also marked by the death of one of the pioneers of newspapering in Eastern Utah, John Crockett. Along with brother Robert, who is enshrined in the Utah Newspaper Hall of Fame at the Utah State Capitol, John helped start the Emery County Progress and took over the Eastern Utah Telegraph in it's fledgeing years. He also started up The Sun newspaper soon after the Carbon County News and Eastern Utah Advocate merged, creating a unique competition in small town newspapering almost anywhere in the nation. When The Sun and News-Advocate were purchased by Joseph Ashbury in 1932 and merged into one, John retired and moved to California. Brother Robert had died in 1930, and Robert Jr. had also already passed away, so with John's passing the original pioneers of newspapers in the area were now gone.

But the years largest number of stories centered on the future college that would be built in the area. Early in the Utah legislative session that year a measure calling for the establishment of a junior college in the eastern Utah area passed both the house and the senate. The governor had also approved the move, but almost to the end of the session in March funding for the new institution had still not been established. However in the March 11, 1937 issue of the Sun Advocate local State Representative Frank Bonacci announced to the paper that "$150,000 for construction of the school appears likely" and that he was submitting a proposal asking for "an additional $27,000 for (the) operation of the institution in 1938."

The next weeks paper, March 18, the paper stated that "Marking one of the most important educational advancements in the history of eastern Utah, the state legislature Sunday completed action on a legislative measure providing for the establishment of a junior college in Price... (with a) $27,000 operating appropriation for the institution, supplementing a $150,000 appropriation Thursday for construction of the necessary buildings...."

It was done. That paper also said that Silas Rowley, who was the chairman of the committee for the local organization that had promoted the college said that the state would make application to the Public Works Administration for more money to construct the buildings, thinking that it would take about $272,727 to finish the project.

By mid-year the site where the college stands today was selected as the place to build the school, over a site near the old County Fairgrounds. That actual first part of the school (The old Reeves Building, the SAC and the old gym which is where the Leavitt Student Center now stands) was built on what was a city owned baseball field. The city had decided by that time to basically donate the land to the state for the school.

Later in the year, as the land was already being planned for construction, the state superintendent of education and others began working on a curriculum for the school. In devising it he said the "emphasis will be on vocation subjects."

At about that that same time plans for the new school were being drawn up by the architectural firm of Canon and Fetzer. The projection was that the actual construction would begin in early 1938 with the first classes to be held in the buildings that fall.

As with all years, 1937 brought it's stories of tragedy and death. Car accidents created more deaths for the first time than mining disasters. Many accidents happened during the year with two particularly bad accidents within a week of each other near Woodside on Highway 50 (now Highway 6 and 50) taking four lives. Three children died through the year by being run over by cars, one while getting off a school bus.

The year came to an end with a sad and kind of weird tale about two Argyle Canyon sawmill employees who died. On a Saturday in November they went deer hunting and then some how talked the camp cook at the sawmill into giving them some cherry juice. For some reason, unexplained in the Sun Advocate they then mixed the cherry juice with antifreeze and drank it. The owner of the sawmill saw how sick they were and rushed them to the Price Hospital, but one died on the way to the facility. The other lived long enough at the hospital to tell Carbon County Sheriff S.M. Bliss what they had done and then he died.

The paper pointedly said that the two were not local, but from Chicago, Ill. and just happened to be in the area to work at the sawing operations. It never explained why the two men did what they did or what their thinking was. Probably no one ever knew.

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