Tragedy at Beef Hollow

Shortly after midnight on the morning of April 30, 1908, the horse drawn wagon carrying Frank Stanley, his family, and friends fell off a steep drop on the side of the road. They were all returning to Lehi after leaving a dance held in Bluffdale, where Stanley and his wife had acted as chaperones for the teenagers that were with them. Stanley was making his way along a road then known as the Beef Hollow Dugway which rose out of a deep hollow.

Salt Lake County Surveyor map (1950s-1960s)

Salt Lake County Surveyor map (1950s-1960s)

On the wagon were his wife Sarah, their two daughters, and another teen from Salt Lake City that had been staying with them on their Lehi farm. According to the death certificate filed with the State, Mrs. Stanley died of a skull fracture. The rest of the passengers and the horses were injured but still standing.

Frank Stanley petitioned the Salt Lake County Commission in May for compensation due to the poor condition of the road. The petition was delivered by his attorneys, Willey & Willey.

Frank StanleyThe County Attorney’s opinion is attached to the petition stating that he did not believe that the County was responsible for the accident.

County Attorney

Stanley brought suit against Salt Lake County in 1909 for $25,000, a sum that would be approximately $600,000 in today’s dollars. Unfortunately, no further records of the case were found.


Salt Lake County Commission, Petitions, Series CM-333.  Salt Lake County Archives.

Salt Lake County Herald May 2, 1908; “Death Comes Suddenly..

Inter-Mountain Republican May 1, 1909; Wife Killed in Fall over Embankment and Husband Asks $25,000.

~Entry contributed by Vince Fazzi, Salt Lake County Archivist


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Mystery Photos

Here are a couple of images from our tax appraisal card collection. These structures were common along Salt Lake County railroad tracks about a century ago. The first structure was located in Riverton and the other was in Sandy. Both photos were taken in 1938.

Do you know what these structures were? (Hint: They are related to a prior blog post describing one of Utah’s major industries from the past).   

42-139 and 140


~ Entry contributed by Vincent Fazzi, Salt Lake County Archivist



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Sunshine Week, 2014


March 16-22, 2014 was Sunshine Week, a national initiative promoting the importance of open government.  It started in 2002 in Florida as Sunshine Sunday and was a response to legislative efforts to create exemptions in its public records law.  The American Society of News Editors has continued support of Sunshine Week since 2005.  Its mission is to enlighten and empower people to play an active role in their government.  Participants include news media, government officials at all levels, schools and universities, libraries and archives, individuals, non-profit and civic organizations, historians, and anyone with an interest in open government. 

Salt Lake County is committed to open government and providing access to information.  Here at the Salt Lake County Archives, which serves county government, residents, and others interested in the history and function of Salt Lake County government, we preserve historical records and provide access to them for research and education.  Open government and access are the foundations upon which archives exist.  Many historical records such as county agency publications and reports, commission minutes, and records from elected officials are just some of the governmental records available at the County Archives. In addition, information about GRAMA, the Government Records Access Management Act and Utah’s state records law can be found on our website here

~Entry contributed by Terry B. Nelson, Director of Salt Lake County Records Management & Archives


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Happy 162nd Anniversary!

On March 15, 1852, the first meeting of the government of Great Salt Lake County in the Territory of Utah was held.  The officials met in a long-forgotten post office that was located at 20 South Main Street in downtown Salt Lake City.  The first form of County government was called the County Court, which consisted of a probate judge and three selectmen.

Commission meeting, March 15 1852 cropped

Page from the minutes of the first County meeting, March 15, 1852.

Some of the work accomplished at that first meeting included:

The first Probate Judge was Elias Smith, Salt Lake City’s postmaster, providing a possible explanation for why the first County meeting was held at the post office.  At this first meeting, 47 year old Elias Smith, first cousin of Mormon founder Joseph Smith, was sworn into office as Salt Lake County’s Probate Judge.  The territorial legislature had appointed him to this position.

Judge Smith gave the oath of office to the three appointed County Selectmen at that first meeting, each of whom was designated to receive a salary of $3 per day.  Their names were Reuben Miller, Samuel Moore, and Jonathan C. Wright.

The Selectmen met in County Court meetings.  These meetings typically lasted four or five days and were held usually once each quarter, in March, June, September, and December.

An Assessor and Collector, and a Treasurer also were appointed at that first meeting on March 15, 1852, a 1/2 percent property tax rate was established, and an additional 1/4 percent was added for “road purposes.”

Above excerpt from the History of Salt Lake County compiled by the Auditor’s Office, Internal Audit Division, in 2005.  Check out this compilation on our website for great photographs and history, and also an earlier entry from this blog.



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Highway 89 (a.k.a. State Street)

551 South State Street, 1937. Tax Appraisal Photograph, serial 1-1410.

Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Photograph, serial 1-1410.

This image was taken at 551 South State Street on March 12, 1937.   A used car lot, a tire store, a movie billboard, the Utah Packing Company, and the Salt Lake City-County building can all be seen in this single photograph.

State Street is part of Highway 89, a highway that stretches across five states and is sometimes called the National Park Highway.

While U.S. 89 has hardly received the nostalgic attention given fabled thoroughfares like Route 66 or the Lincoln Highway, it is nevertheless central to the identity of the American West. It travels from high mountains to low desert; across five states: Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana; and through or adjacent to seven national parks: Saguaro, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier. It is no wonder that University of Wisconsin geographer Thomas R. Vale once called U.S. 89 “a cross section of the West.”

This quote comes from an online exhibit dedicated to Highway 89, created through a collaborative effort among archives and libraries in the West.  Salt Lake County Archives is a participating member of this project, and you can see many more images from buildings along State Street on

Also check out the images for other sections of Highway 89, contributed by Utah State University, Southern Utah University, Brigham Young University, the Utah State Archives, and other institutions.  Additional photographs and records are added to the Highway 89 online exhibit every week.

highway 89002

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The County Sheriff’s Department Gets New Motorcycles

On September 8, 1915, Salt Lake County Sheriff Corless sent a petition to the County Commission requesting $525 to purchase two motorcycles. His plan was to use one in the “most extensive territory” of Garfield and the other at his headquarters for long journeys. The model requested was a 3-speed twin cylinder 1916 Indian. He supported the request by stating that the purchase would eliminate the need to purchase $25 worth of horse feed each month.  A few days later the Commission approved the request although the minutes show an approval for 1915 model bikes. It is not known if the difference in model year was an error or a decision to purchase the current model motorcycle. The sheriff would later request a sidecar for one of the Indians on May 22, 1916, which was also approved by the commission.


Prior to the petition only the gas receipts of one deputy, Ed Larson, show up in department records. Beginning in June of 1916 the more frequent receipts of another deputy, Lee Williamson, begin to appear. One of his first receipts is for oil leading to the possibility that Deputy Williamson was assigned one of the new Indian motorcycles. 

Use of Indian motorcycles by county officers predates these records. An advertisement with an accompanying photo in the Salt Lake Tribune from April 4, 1919 titled Salt Lake County Motor Cops and Their New Indians notes that the first Indian models were purchased in 1912. The ad also points out that Deputy Larson (pictured along with a Deputy Turnbow) was now on his fourth Indian motorcycle, his first being a 1912 model that he rode until 1915. He also received new bikes in 1915 and 1917, both of which he rode over 30,000 miles in two years. 


Salt Lake County Commission Minutes, Book S (1/4/1915-3/1/1916), Box 27, CM-002.  Salt Lake County Archives.

Salt Lake County Commission Minutes, Book T (3/3/1916-6/28/1918), Box 28, CM-002. Salt Lake County Archives.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Contingency Fund Receipt Reports(1900-1922), SH-311. Salt Lake County Archives.

Salt Lake Tribune April 4, 1919; Salt Lake County Motor Cops and Their New Indians. 

 ~Entry contributed by Vincent Fazzi, Salt Lake County Reference Archivist

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Hope Homes in Salt Lake County

We are all probably used to the sight of housing development construction projects around the valley. Homes are quickly completed, sold and ready for new homeowners. During an earlier period home builders were not always able to construct a complete home at once. Instead, a practice that became popular and lasted for several decades was the construction of basement homes.

Our Assessor Card collection begins during the Great Depression and probably contains records from the height of the basement home era. Basement homes, or “Hope” homes, were residences that typically consisted of a poured concrete and cinder block basement level, and a flat roof. The owners either ran out of money during construction or had started with the intent, or hope, of completing the upper floors after their financial situation improved. Some houses were eventually completed but others remained basement home gaining peaked roofs, or fancier doorways.  Basement homes were probably more common outside the limits of Salt Lake City where ordinances and higher land values discouraged there construction.

There are few online resources describing the history of basement homes. There is an interesting article from 1941 in The Independent, a Florida newspaper, about the Utah Hope house phenomenon. The writer claims that the houses are “Utah’s chief contribution to post-depressionesque American architecture.” Articles in Utah’s local newspapers show that municipalities had different views of the proliferation of these homes. Bountiful and Layton passed zoning ordinances banning the practice in 1938 and 1948, respectively. Meanwhile, in Salt Lake County, the commission held a hearing in 1945 considering ordinances that would prevent or limit the building of basement homes.

Despite the threat of ordinances banning basement homes, most were either not passed in 1945 or not strictly enforced. Appraisals of new basement homes continue to appear in assessor records from the late 1940s into the early 1950s. A newspaper article that ran nationally in 1947, including Utah, suggests that outright bans were probably not practical at the time. The article is about the shortage of affordable housing for veterans and how basement homes offered a solution. The post-war boom in new families combined with high costs priced many people out of the market for standard houses. Constructing a home that only required some poured concrete, cinder blocks and a simple roof resulted in a cheaper, and hopefully temporary alternative.

A few basement homes still exist but most are easily missed behind landscaping and larger neighboring homes.

Special thanks to Elizabeth Giraud for helping to locate some of the basement homes shown below.

Photos of Salt Lake County basement homes.

Photos of Salt Lake County basement homes.

 Row 1:  

6484 South 367 West, Built 1952. Image taken circa 1970s. Earlier photo of house without the roof is in Row 2 below. parcel# 21-24-255-007.

2605 South 9180 West, Built 1953. Image taken circa 1950s. parcel# 14-19-452-001.

Row 2:  

6484 South 367 West, Built 1952. Image taken 1958. Parcel# 21-24-255-007.

12600 South 2700 West, Built 1947. Image taken 1989. Parcel# 27-28-452-007.

Row 3:  

553 East 8800 South, Built 1941. Image taken April 1941. Parcel # 28-06-228-025.

8590 South 60 East, Built 1950. Image taken 1951. Parcel# 22-31-353-023.

Row 4:  

12600 South, 2700 West, Built 1947. Image taken 1975. Parcel# 27-28-452-007.

8430 South State Street, Built 1941. Image taken 1941. Parcel# 22-31-351-039.

Row 5:  

12013 South 1300 West, Built 1952. Image taken 1975. Parcel# 27-26-103-006.

8840 South 60 East, Built 1949. Image taken 1949. Parcel# 28-06-163-001.

Row 6:  

425 East 8680 South, Built 1939. Image taken 1949. Upper floors were added in 1953. Parcel # 28-06-201-013.

12013 South 1300 West, Built 1952. Image taken 1989. Parcel # 27-26-103-006.

Row 7:  

11722 South 1300 West, Built 1953. Image taken 1989. Parcel# 27-22-476-013.

2314 West 12600 South, Built 1939. Image taken 1989. Parcel# 27-28-477-005.

Row 8:  

2314 West 12600 South, Built 1939. Image taken 1940. Parcel# 27-28-477-005.


~Entry contributed by Vincent Fazzi, Salt Lake County Reference Archivist.



Property Tax Appraisal Cards (1936-1987), Salt Lake County Archives

Utah Digital Newspapers – J. Willard Marriott

Davis County Clipper, Basement Houses Banished from Bountiful, 1938-08-12

Salt Lake Telegram, Officials Hear Pleas for County Zoning, 1945-07-20

Davis County Clipper, Layton Outlaws Basement Homes, 1948-05-28

Iron County Record, Basement Homes Solve Crisis, 1947-05-01

Google Newspapers

The Independent, Hope Houses Dot Utah Countryside, 1941-04-18,639025

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