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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A brief history of my Utah Lake


From ~400-1400 AD, the Fremont Native Americans inhabited the environs of the Utah Lake.
Around a thousand people lived by fishing, hunting, and planting corn and squash. I wonder what their produce was like... the stuff in our grocery store is so much different from what it was even 50 years ago. Strawberries are so common today but didn't even exist a couple hundred years ago. Or Clementine mandarins. Utahn peers, think back to your schooldays. Do you remember anyone at the lunch table with Clementines? I sure don't. Now they're everywhere.
It isn't known where the Fremont came from. The may have descended from Anasazis from the south in spots like Hovenweep and traveled north...and why wouldn't they?! Once you step foot outside the Utah Valley to the South, you find but desolation! Spanish Fork is named for Spanish friars who descended the Spanish Fork Canyon to find a new path from Santa Fe to missions in California and for me, that's what Spanish Fork is, a fork in the road, one path leading to oblivion and sage brush in the south, and the other to a lush, fertile green valley.
But alas, this fertility was abrubtly curtailed for the Fremont with a savage draught in about 1400 and the lovely lake was abandoned. Over the next 400 years, it would come to be occupied by Paiutes on the west side, Utes who would visit seasonally, and the Shoshone who came from the north, which I suppose doesn't sound quite the same: The Utah "Shoshones" doesn't sound as likely to defeat BYU in a football game. It would be a more appropriate name though, because Provo is actually where more Utes lived, and Etienne Provost, the French-Canadian trapper whose name the city of Provo comes from, upon leading a party to the Salt Lake Valley in 1824 was attacked by Shoshone. Most in his party were killed and he narrowly escaped. Mormons settled in 1849, and Orem was to Provo sort of what Vineyard is to Orem.
Orem became its own city, selling bonds to build a waterway upon its incorporation in 1919 to provide for its farmers, and the name of the city was called after Walter Orem, whose railroad connected Provo to Salt Lake.
What will be said of this fine city in a hundred years? I'll do what I can to put some sway on that...

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