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13 Things That Are 130 Years Old

Lagoon has reached an impressive milestone this year. Thirteen decades have passed since it began as the Lake Park Bathing Resort on the eastern shore of the Great Salt Lake. In that time, Earth has orbited the sun one hundred and thirty times and traveled millions trillions of miles. Considering the oldest person alive today (Emma Morano of Italy) was born about a month before the turn of the 20th century, one hundred and thirty years is probably somewhat difficult for any of us to comprehend. To help make it a little more conceivable, here are some other things that came into existence in 1886.

COCA-COLA was first served in Atlanta on 8 May 1886.

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STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE by Robert Louis Stevenson was first published in January 1886.

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THE BENZ MOTORCAR, widely considered to be the first automobile, was first demonstrated in Mannheim, Germany on 3 July 1886.

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NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN by Modest Mussorgsky was first published and performed in 1886, five years after his death.

Baseball legend TY COBB was born in December 1886. During his career he set 90 league records and still holds many of them including highest batting average.

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CLASSIFIED ADS were first printed in the London Times in February 1886 to help advertisers reach their intended audience while also helping consumers find the best products and services for their needs.

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VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA was incorporated as a city in April 1886. Two months later it experienced a massive fire from which it was quickly rebuilt.

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PASADENA, CALIFORNIA became a city in June 1886, four months after the first oranges were shipped east from Southern California on the transcontinental railroad.

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The first commercial LINOTYPE MACHINE was a significant advancement in printing when Ottmar Mergenthaler first showed his invention to the New York Tribune in July 1886. It was an improvement on typesetting that allowed more books to become accessible to more people and lasted until computers took over in the mid-20th century.

THE TUXEDO or dinner jacket was first created and worn at a ball in Tuxedo Park, New York in October 1886.

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Camille Saint-Saëns completed his SYMPHONY NO. 3 of which he said, “I gave everything to it I was able to give. What I have here accomplished, I will never achieve again.” He also conducted the first performance of the piece that same year. (This was NEW music in 1886!)

THE STATUE OF LIBERTY was dedicated 28 October 1886. The event was marked by a parade overseen by U.S. President Grover Cleveland. When the parade passed the New York Stock Exchange, ticker tape was thrown out of the windows, thus beginning the tradition of ticker tape parades.

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LAKE PARK BATHING RESORT, built by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, opened in July 1886 on the Great Salt Lake when Utah was still a territory. Simon Bamberger, part owner of the resort, moved the buildings inland to  its current location in 1896 and named it LAGOON.

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Few institutions have survived as long as Lagoon has in Utah and few amusement parks have survived as long in the United States. According to the National Amusement Park Historical Association, Lagoon is the 10th oldest American amusement park still operating in the same location.

Many of the things in this list changed the world or have left a deep impression on our culture. Lagoon has done the same for generations of people living in and around Utah. Much has changed inside the park itself as well. In the early days, electricity had yet to become a viable option and a mule was used to power the park’s first carousel. The first thrill ride involved boats sliding down an incline and splashing into the lake. Visitors arrived by train and most roads were made of dirt and traversed by foot or horse-drawn vehicles.

Meanwhile, outside the park, Farmington’s population has grown from 1,000 to 22,000. Homes and businesses have sprung up out of the acres of farms and pastures. Other resorts such as Saltair and Black rock have come and gone. Several others have completely faded from memory. The world as we know it today would be just as hard to imagine for those living back then as it is for us to imagine what the world of 2146 will be like.

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With all that has changed, there is still one element that has survived from the original Lake Park. In the midst of Lagoon’s many picnic terraces stands the humble Rose Terrace. When it was first constructed in 1886, it was a cupola on top of the old dance pavilion. The dance pavilion was designed by Richard Kletting who was also the architect of the massive original Saltair pavilion, the Utah State Capitol and other famous buildings. In 1896 it was relocated with other buildings from Lake Park to the current location of Lagoon. It stood there until about the 1950s when it was dismantled and the wood was used to build the Lake Park Terrace. The cupola remained intact and became its own picnic terrace as it is still used today. This small, overlooked building quietly and steadfastly stands as a connection from the modern day to the park’s opening day one hundred and thirty years ago.

Rose Terrace in 2005, originally constructed in 1886 as part of the Lake Park Dancing Pavilion. Photo: B. Miskin
Rose Terrace in 2005, originally constructed in 1886 as part of the Lake Park Dancing Pavilion. Photo: B. Miskin

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LINKS

Timeline – A brief listing of events in Lagoon’s history.

Lagoon And The Fair, Part I: The Davis County Fair

Davis County Fair at Lagoon 1906
Part of an advertisement for the 1906 Davis County Fair at Lagoon from the Davis County Clipper.

In the days before big box retailers and internet shopping, state and county fairs were prime opportunities for exhibiting locally-produced goods to nearby areas, aside from being major community events.

It was especially important in the comparatively isolated settlements of Utah before the introduction of major railroads. The first territorial fair was held as early as 1856. Years before Lagoon opened, Farmington – a centrally-located county seat – was considered as a possible host for a fair in Davis County. One of the first recorded references to this was probably a letter to the editor printed in the Davis County Clipper in 1892 when the county’s population was around 7,000 people. It stated, “We have been waiting for the bright minds of Farmington to suggest means for a County Fair to be held in that place about September 25th next.”

The idea was tossed around for years afterward. A large meeting was held at the Kaysville Music Hall in June 1906 to discuss the possibility of a fair in Davis County. The meeting featured speeches punctuated by performances from the county’s three brass bands. According to a news report, one speaker “pointed out in glowing terms the great resources of the county, what she could produce from her soil, her livestock and manufacturing industries, etc. and also the great benefits the county and her people would derive from exhibiting her products to the other counties of Utah and perhaps other states.” Residents voted unanimously to hold the first Davis County Fair that fall at Lagoon. Simon Bamberger, founder of Lagoon and a senator at the time, also spoke saying, “The Lagoon is at your service,” and told those in attendance, “you have the best county in the state.”

After the success of that first fair, a Davis County Clipper article stated, “The Lagoon is an ideal place for holding a fair as there are so many suitable buildings and outdoor attractions.” However, it seems the fair was not initially intended to be an annual event at that point in time. The next fair was two years later when Davis County joined Box Elder, Morgan and Weber counties in the Big Four County Fair. The combined fair was hosted at the Ogden fairgrounds for a number of years as it grew to include counties in neighboring states as well. Davis County had an ongoing tradition known as Farm Bureau Day which was essentially a one day fair at Lagoon. Around the mid-1920s there was talk of expanding the celebration into a full-fledged, annual fair. Governor George H. Dern spoke at the festivities in 1926 urging the county to do just that.

Preparing for the Davis County Fair at Lagoon in 1939. Photos from Deseret News

It wasn’t until 1929 that the Davis County Fair became a regular occurrence and Lagoon was home to the fair until World War II. In 1942, exhibits were dropped and the two-day fair reverted back to a single day. Lagoon remained closed for two or three seasons during the war and it seems there was a chance of it being closed for good. Land was purchased east of Davis High School in Kaysville as a permanent site for the county fair where school buildings such as the fieldhouse were also put to use.

When county fairs were first held on the Kaysville site in the 1940s, fair officials hoped to expand in that location, but surrounding plots of land later became unavailable. Residents of the homes being built around the perimeter of the fairgrounds complained of dust and noise from the fair. By the ’60s, the Davis School District needed space to build an equipment shed and the most obvious choice was the largely unused fairgrounds next to Davis High. The land was sold to the school district in 1964 with an agreement to have one last fair on the site in 1965. A county-owned park in an unincorporated area between Kaysville and Farmington was a decent place for relocating the county fair, but the required buildings and improvements could have taken years to complete. Meanwhile, Lagoon had been thriving since its World War II closure and it already had a race track and several practical buildings for exhibitions and contests. The former home of so many earlier county fairs was starting to look like an attractive venue once again.

Construction of buildings for the fair’s return to Lagoon in 1966. LEFT: Animal exhibit sheds were built west of the grandstand with the help of Davis County Jail inmates. RIGHT: Davis Pavilion was an exhibition building meant to double as a picnic pavilion during the regular season. Photos: Davis County Clipper

A deal was settled upon in 1965 for the fair to come back to Lagoon.¹ New animal sheds, pavilions and a grandstand were constructed on the property. The race track was revitalized after decades of going unused. The return of the county fair to Lagoon in 1966 brought in record crowds estimated to be three times the size the attendance of any previous fair.

Fixing up the fairgrounds at Lagoon in August 1977. Photo: Deseret News

The tradition continued each August with the fairgrounds also being used for events like Boy Scout jamborees. In the early ’80s, another multi-year lease was about to run out and Davis County was looking for a new site for its fair once again. In 1981, Lagoon began maintaining the county-owned grandstand (which stood where Double Thunder Raceway is now) as part of an agreement to purchase them from the county at the end of the lease. But the following winter, Lagoon showed interest in becoming a permanent host for the fair and even talked about donating land north of the park to the county for that purpose. Davis County had $50,000 budgeted for buying land for a new fairground and if it was decided to stay at Lagoon, that money would have gone towards construction of new buildings. The county also looked into the possibility of allowing the grounds to be used by equestrian groups to generate more revenue year-round.

A deal was never reached and the Davis County Fair had its last year at Lagoon in 1984. Livestock pens used since the ’60s were sold off and removed by early June of that year. Temporary pens were set up for the 1984 fair and afterwards, Lagoon went ahead with projects utilizing land once set aside for the fair. In September, construction began on a new maintenance and warehouse building where the pens had been located. A Deseret News interview with Peter Freed in 1982 revealed, “…Lagoon soon will expand to the north, building rides where the Davis County Fairgrounds now stand and the rodeos are held. He [Peter Freed] expects one of the first rides to be a new roller coaster, which he said he expects will cost about $3 million.” It’s very likely that the coaster mentioned was Colossus: The Fire Dragon which cost about the same and was installed the following year on the south end of the park. It wasn’t until 1986 that Lagoon’s midway expanded northward onto part of the land occupied by the race track. There were even plans to build an IMAX theater² somewhere on Lagoon’s property which never came to be.

The Davis County Fair would return to Kaysville for a time before a new, permanent fairground was completed southwest of Lagoon and Interstate 15 in 1990.

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LINKS

Lagoon And The Fair, Part II: The Utah State Fair

Lagoon And The Fair, Part III: The World’s Fair

Lagoon And The Fair Gallery

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NOTES

1. The first ten-year contract required Davis County to pay $3,000 annually for year-round use of the land. In 1975, a new ten-year contract was signed allowing the county to use the grounds for 10 days per year, free of charge. This was based on the fact that the county had made improvements to the property during the previous ten-year lease. It was also at that time that Lagoon paid $20,000 for facilities “previously used for cutter and horse racing tracks.”

2. Read more about the Lagoon IMAX which was never built.

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SOURCES

Public Opinion. Davis County Clipper, 17 Jun 1892.

Kaysville Kinks. Davis County Clipper, 23 Mar 1906.

Will Hold A County Fair. Davis County Clipper, 29 Jun 1906.

Excellent County Fair. Davis County Clipper, 5 Oct 1906.

Proved A Big Event Farm Bureau Day. Davis County Clipper, 3 Sep 1926.

Food Cookery Exhibits Feature Davis County Fair At Resort. Deseret News, 26 Aug 1931.

Farm Bureau Sets Davis County Fair At Lagoon, Aug. 15. Deseret News, 26 Jun 1934.

Davis County Fair Opens At Lagoon; Exhibits Colorful. Deseret News, 24 Aug 1939.

Davis County Fair Sets All-Time Attendance Record. Deseret News, 26 Aug 1939.

“Davis Howdy Days” Announced as New Davis Fair Name. Davis County Clipper, 7 Jun 1940.

County Fair Cut To One Day To Aid Victory. Davis County Clipper, 10 Jul 1942.

Davis County Fair Opens at Kaysville. Deseret News, 25 Aug 1950.

Davis Too Considers Fair Site At Lagoon. Davis County Clipper, 4 Sep 1964.

A Fair Question- Where To Locate. Davis County Clipper, 19 Mar 1965.

County Fair, Lagoon Ready For Signature. Davis County Clipper, 28 May 1965.

County Fair Is A Success. Davis County Clipper, 2 Sep 1966.

Davis County’s Fair Aug. 17-19 At Lagoon. Deseret News, 6 Jul 1972.

Fair time in Davis. Deseret News, 23 Aug 1973.

Davis Signs Contract For Fairs At Lagoon. Davis County Clipper, 3 Jan 1975.

Davis celebrates with parade. Deseret News, 21 Aug 1976.

Lagoon to purchase fair-site bleachers. Deseret News, 12 Feb 1981.

Lagoon possible fair site again. Deseret News, 26 Jan 1982.

Davis County Fair expected to pack Lagoon. Deseret News, 4 Aug 1982.

Pearson, Howard. He’s the master of the midway. Deseret News, 6 Aug 1982.

County unlikely to buy new fair site soon. Deseret News, 7 Sep 1982.

Lagoon stock pens are being removed. Deseret News, 31 May 1984.

Winter hasn’t slowed the work at Lagoon. Deseret News, 5-6 Feb 1985.

Arave, Lynn. 4 days of fun on tap at Davis fair. Deseret News, 16 Aug 1999.

History of the Fair. UtahStateFair.com, accessed 2 Sep 2012.

Introducing Lagoon Yearbooks

I’m beginning a new feature here at the Lagoon History Project called Lagoon Yearbooks. First of all, to be clear, they are not actual books. Just a collection of photos, history and information about specific time periods in Lagoon’s past. For example, in the 1980 Yearbook you’ll find a short history of the 1980 season, list of attractions and entertainment at the park that year and a gallery with old ads, photos and other general nostalgia from 1980.

Just like the rest of the website, more info will be added as it becomes available or when it can be confirmed. If you have photos, please submit them to admin@lagoonhistory.com and share your memories!

Click here to browse the 1980 Yearbook.

5 Jul 1950: Bandits Crack Safe at Lagoon

Article published in Deseret News, 5 Jul 1950:

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Dean Swaner, 1950
“Dean Swaner, Lagoon employe, holds safe handle knocked off as robbers broke open safe after binding and gagging nightwatchman at gunpoint.” Photo: Deseret News

FARMINGTON – Two armed men bound and gagged a nightwatchman, pried open a safe and escaped with 11 sacks of money early Wednesday at Lagoon resort, Davis County Sheriff LeGrande Hess reported.

Sheriff Hess “guessed” the loss might run as high as $15,000.

But Robert Freed, park manager, said he couldn’t even make an estimate of the loss until after a check by the auditing department. He said it was at least partially covered by insurance.

Hugh Roberts, 74-year-old nightwatchman, said he had just finished cleaning a room back of the resort office and walked into the office about 4 a.m. to be confronted by two masked men, revolvers [drawn].

“Stick ’em up buddy. This is a holdup and we’re not kidding,” he was told.

Mr. Roberts told Sheriff Hess they plastered a strip of adhesive tape across his eyes, forced him into a back bedroom and bound and gagged him with torn sheets and more tape.

The robbers then returned to the office and ripped off the safe door with sledge hammers, bar, punch, and coal chisel, the sheriff said.

Eleven bags of money, ranging from pennies to $20 bills, were taken. It represented receipts from Independence Day operations, the sheriff said, and had been bagged for banking Wednesday.

Elvin King, 1950
“Elvin King, cleanup crew foreman, holds up strips of sheeting which armed robbers used to bind and gag Nightwatchman Hugh Roberts. Mr. King discovered Roberts when he came to work Wednesday at 5 a.m.” Photo: Deseret News

The nightwatchman, his hands and feet crisscrossed with strips of sheeting and tape, lay helpless until 5 a.m. when he was discovered by a cleanup crew.

He was so upset by the robbery he could not give a detailed description of the assailants but he said one was considerably darker than the other. Mr. Roberts said they were wearing caps.

Sheriff Hess said they entered the office by breaking a lock at the rear of the combination office and home. Mr. and Mrs. Max Hess, who occupy the home, were away at the time, he said.

The sheriff said he has reason to believe there were three men involved, though only two were present at the robbery. No clue was given as to method of getaway. Three concession operators who live in bunkhouses at the resort said they saw two men leave the office about 4 a.m. One of the operators followed the men a short distance, then turned back and joined his companions.

The employes – Wesley Wicker, Leon Duffy, and Pete Vlahos, all teenagers – said they thought nothing of the incident.

The resort closed at 1 a.m. after one of the heaviest crowds of the season.

“Photograph shows how Lagoon safe was ‘cleaned’ by two robber-safecrackers who bound and gagged nightwatchman and broke open the safe early Wednesday.” Photo: Deseret News