Historians’ new book echoes of the past
January 8, 2016
If you ask NaVee Vernon, Summit County’s historian, which of the books she has written is the best, she’ll tell you, modestly, it’s her most recent: "Echoes of the Canyon."
Vernon emphasized that she didn’t want to discredit her other books or those who have worked on them with her. However, Vernon said this book stands out because it delves into the history of such a significant landmark: Echo Canyon.
"I am just very passionate about all the rich history there and I think it is probably one of the best books because of that, but don’t put that," Vernon said with a laugh. "It’s about one of the best historic places in the area that most people should know about."
Vernon co-wrote "Echoes of the Canyon" with Russell Judd, Summit County Historical Society president and former North Summit High School teacher, based on the research of local historian Mike Richins. The book was released last week and will be available for purchase at the Summit County Courthouse, in Coalville, and all county libraries for $30.
"Echoes of the Canyon" chronicles more than 100 years worth of history associated with the canyon and includes several photographs of the red rock formations taken by Timothy Thimmes. The book was funded through a $30,000 Restaurant Tax grant.
Located in eastern Summit County, the 24-mile canyon has long been recognized as a major thoroughfare to the West, Vernon said.
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"Everyone has come through there, including the immigrants and the railroads," Vernon said. "There are a lot of historic factors in this canyon."
The book covers the presence of Native Americans, the Donner-Reed party, introduction of the transcontinental railroad, Prohibition, several U.S. presidents’ visits, including Teddy Roosevelt, and the death of Utah Highway Patrol Trooper William Atoniewicz in the 1970s.
"When you get into it, it is so full of a different and diversified history," Vernon said. "I’m just so excited to inform people about it. A lot of tourists pass through and stop and ask about the canyon and they want to know about it. I thought it was a very interesting tourist attraction kind-of-book so people could buy and find out what the canyon is."
Vernon said the book happened unexpectedly, adding that when Richins donated his research on the canyon, "I couldn’t go without writing about it." Vernon has written at least 10 books about local history.
"I’ve always had a personal history here because I have lived in Summit County my whole life," Vernon said. "But my knowledge has been greatly broadened and I have really learned a lot more writing these books. When you learn the history of the people that established and created your county, you get a greater respect and I kind of like to honor them and pay tribute to those people."
Judd led tours of Echo Canyon and was volunteering for Vernon when she approached him about co-authoring the book. He had never contributed to a book before, but said "it has been so much fun."
"We have such a unique treasure and NaVee has done quite a bit of work going through and putting signs up at the different natural landmarks and I think a lot of people just aren’t aware of it," Judd said. "And we only just scratched the surface. There is a whole bunch of other information and we want to do another small book.
"The county has a real rich history and I don’t think people realize it," Judd said.
"Echoes of the Canyon" is available to purchase for $30 at the Summit County Courthouse, in Coalville, and the Summit County libraries.
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