Ox statue erected to commemorate migration through Echo Canyon
Summit County Historical Department hopes statue will help promote tourism
For many immigrants, Echo Canyon in eastern Summit County was considered the gateway to the West.
In 1846, the Harlan-Young party, led by George W. Harlan and Samuel C. Young, successfully traversed the canyon en route to the Salt Lake Valley, just months ahead of the Donner-Reed party, according to the Utah State Historical Society.
To commemorate those migrations, and many others, the Summit County Historical Society received permission from the Utah Department of Transportation to place a monument at a site overlooking the Echo Canyon Tourist Center on Interstate 80, according to NaVee Vernon, the county’s historian. The ox sculpture is located on the hill south of the existing overlook.
“We are just kind of honoring the oxen because it is what brought all of the immigrants across and into our country,” Vernon said. “We just think they were more reliable and they had many advantages because they were a lot stronger than the horse and they were probably less apt to be scared. They provided the much needed power to bring the people across the nation.”
A historic presentation of the ox statue and a metal panel is scheduled at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 30, at the Echo Canyon Tourist Center, accessible from the westbound lanes of I-80.
A grant made possible through the Restaurant Tax, in addition to funding from the historical society and the county, funded the project.
Gary Moon, of Woodland, created the bronze sculpture and Delaun Willoughby, of Coalville, made the metal interpretative panel. The sign includes an authentic oxen yoke restored by Eric Blonquist, of Morgan, and donated by Kay Crittenden, of Hoytsville, according to a press release.
Vernon said the project has taken two years to come to fruition, but added “it is just such a beautiful site with the red rocks and canyon, it didn’t matter how long it took.”
“I kind of got involved with the history up there because so many people were stopping at the tourist center wanting information,” Vernon said. “I want to use the history of the canyon as an economic tool for the county because it is so beautiful right there.”
Vernon said she continues to watch the traffic flowing through the canyon as people head west. She added, “Echo Canyon is probably one of Summit County’s best historic sites and is still widely used today.”
“There is so much history in that little area and it is kind of one of our hidden gems,” Vernon.
The historic presentation of the statue is scheduled at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 30, at the Echo Canyon Tourist Center, accessible from the westbound lanes of I-80. Those interested in attending are encouraged to arrive early.
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