Tom Clyde: Happy Pioneer Day | ParkRecord.com

Tom Clyde: Happy Pioneer Day

Tom Clyde, Park Record columnist

Friday was the big holiday in most of Utah. It was either Pioneer Day or Pie ‘n’ Beer Day, depending on your point of view. The rest of the state had celebrations in their parks, parades, rodeos, barbecues, and all kinds of festivities to commemorate the 168th anniversary of Brigham Young’s arrival in the Salt Lake Valley. It was completely ignored here. In Park City, it is just one more random closure of the liquor stores that has to be explained to tourists.

Compared to a lot of the US, 168 years isn’t much. Boston has potholes in their streets that are older than that. But here in the West, 168 years is enough to go from stealing it from the Indians to choking air pollution. It’s really a remarkable story. Brigham and his followers moved out here to what was generally considered a worthless desert, and in a matter of a few decades, had built communities all over, with the irrigation and other infrastructure necessary to support them. They settled in towns so there were schools and churches and the other institutions that made life on the frontier less frontier-ish than the more typical isolated homesteads across the West.

As they came through Summit County, a scouting party examined possible places to settle. Some of the scouts liked Kimball Junction because of the lush meadows and scenery. Others looked at it and said, "Are you out of your mind? The traffic here is insufferable." Kimball Junction was rejected because there was no place to park, and their horses got dizzy in the roundabouts. So they decided to press on to Salt Lake.

The settlements quickly spread out from there. It was a growth rate similar to what we are experiencing now. Towns of 500 or 1,000 people would be built in a matter of months, without benefit of Realtors. Back in the day, they called their gated communities "forts" and their open space was "pasture." But whole towns were popping up all over, often in the most unlikely places. If Brigham Young told you to go settle in some far-flung corner of the Deseret Territory, and to raise crops out of slickrock, you packed up and grew corn where corn wasn’t supposed to grow.

The epic struggle and determination of the early pioneers are amazing, and it’s understandable why the rest of the state celebrates that effort. There was a drive and purpose behind it all. If they could build a series of settlements across Utah, and into Nevada and Southern California, you could travel safely by horseback from Salt Lake to Los Angeles. If they could build towns solid enough to support amenities, sooner or later Heber could build an airport that could handle private jets.

It took a long time for Brigham Young’s vision of Utah to come to fruition, but we now have a place where people can fly their Gulfstream up from Phoenix to play a round of golf at Promontory, enjoy lunch, and fly home in time for dinner. And then there’s Sundance. Had he known how it was going to turn out, I wonder if Brigham might have turned back.

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This has been a very odd year in the weather department. After sweltering heat in June, July has been on the cool side. This is usually the hottest week of the year (because what fun is a Pioneer Day parade without horses dropping from heat-stroke?). Instead, it’s been unseasonably cool. It was a violation of all kinds of principles, but I was sitting at my desk one morning this week with my teeth chattering. I had gone to bed with all the windows open, and the house was in the low 50s. It was full-blown hypothermia. I gave up and turned on the furnace.

We are all just quivering with excitement about next week’s unveiling of the new, combined branding for Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons. It’s a poorly kept secret that the new name will be "Park City Mountain." They are sending the "Resort" out to pasture with the previously retired "The" from the resort formerly known as "The Canyons." So "The Resort" will join "ParkWest" in memory. The only real question is how much of the identity of Canyons is gobbled up into the new name. There are no longer two resorts, but there are two bases and the interconnect gondola isn’t really a seamless integration. So it isn’t quite one mega-resort, either.

Will we still have the orange DNA squiggle in use at The Canyons, and the pine tree/ski tracks swoosh at Park City Mountain Resort, or will we have some new and exciting graphic on the logo that will symbolize the merger? I can hardly wait.

At least they aren’t going to call it Nuzzles & Co.

Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.