City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

About, References and Contact

About

External Link to Image

City Creek Canyon 2015. Author.

“Knowing Salt Lake City means knowing its canyons, too, for no city of my acquaintance . . . breaks off so naturally and easily into fine free country. … Up in the Wasatch is another world, …” Pulitzer Prize winning author and naturalist Wallace Stegner, ‘The Sound of Mountain Water’ (1980).

This journal concerns nature observations made while jogging up the first two miles of City Creek Canyon of Salt Lake City. How people and these plants and animals interact in this canyon – its human and natural ecology – is the principal focus in the journal. Each daily entry consists of at most four parts:

• Daily nature observations in the canyon;

• Nature observations by Henry David Thoreau on the corresponding days of the year;

• An essay on science or history of the canyon; or,

• Digest of newspaper articles related to City Creek Canyon.

Each part is separated by a divider:

* * * *

Posting reply comments is welcomed and encouraged. Help from professional and amateur biologists, botanists, and naturalists in identifying probable scientific names of plants, animals, and insects would be greatly appreciated. Corrections to errors in science statements are appreciated. Corrections to writing are also welcome.

Smart phone users of WordPress sites like this journal are initially presented with a mobile phone adapted view. No special “app” needs to be installed.  Just open the journal using the main url.  However, it is useful to also view the WordPress journal in “full” view.  A button to activate full view is at the bottom of the mobile view page.  Optionally, use the WordPress Android or Apple I-Phone “app”.  The advantage of “full” view is that the journal index appears on the right-hand side of the page.  Using the index, entries filtered by specific topics or places such as “Peregrine Falcon”, “Mule Deer”, “Black Mountain”, or “Colors” may be quickly displayed. The index is extensive and provides a cast-of-characters for the many plants and animals found in City Creek. This journal can also be followed via pushed email. Look for the the three dot icon “…”. Press the icon, and you will be given the option to have new entries automatically sent to an email address.

City Creek Canyon illustrates relationships between plate tectonics, local geology, natural resources, urbanization, wildlife, and recreation. Crustal spreading beginning at the Pacific Plate in California created the Great Basin region. The Great Basin is a series of grabens and horsts bounded by parallel normal faults, and the faults raise north-south mountain ranges that begin in Nevada and end at Utah’s Wasatch Mountains and Salt Lake’s City Creek Canyon. The most eastern of these graben mountain ranges is the 8,000 to 11,000 foot high Wasatch Front range, which runs for some 75 miles north and south of Salt Lake City, Utah. Those mountains capture rainfall and allow large cities like Salt Lake to exist in this otherwise arid state. Although it is about 750 by 1,000 miles in extent, there is no natural drainage from the Great Basin to the ocean. Salt Lake City sits in the Bonneville sub-basin of the Great Basin. Numerous canyons run east-to-west off the range’s western face to the valley floor at 4,300 feet of elevation and, thence into the basin’s lowest point at the Great Salt Lake. One of these east-west running canyons is City Creek Canyon.

Eight mile long City Creek Canyon begins at high-rise office towers of downtown Salt Lake City, but the canyon abruptly transitions into a natural area that provides water and recreation for a City of 200,000, and the canyon is a refuge for many native animals. It consists of three main parts: the lower canyon below Bonneville Drive is a city park called Memory Grove. The first four and a half miles above Bonneville Drive is Gambel’s Oak woodland. The remainder higher-altitude portion of the canyon is mountain Douglas Fir habitat.

This journal is in done in the spirit of a predecessor book, Claude T. Barnes “The Natural History of a Mountain Year: Four Seasons in the Wasatch Range,” that was originally published as a four-volume series between 1956 and 1959 as an intermittent collection of essays, each based Barnes’ experiences in the Wasatch mountains on a specific day. I originally encountered a copy of Barnes’ work by accident in the basement of Sam Weller’s Zions Bookstore in 1979. As then Red Butte Garden botanist Pamela M. Poulson noted in the Preface to the 1996 second edition, the principal value of Barnes’ work is that it provides a snapshot of the natural Wasatch Front canyons,  as they existed in the 1950s.

This journal was also kept in the spirit of prior classic American nature journalists and the British nature writer John Alec Baker. Henry David Thoreau famously kept from 1837 to 1862, a twenty-five year journal of philosophical and nature observations for his then rural Concord, Massachusetts forest. Concord and Salt Lake City are at nearly the same latitude, and therefore, events and animals are similar between this western and eastern location. I have annotated this Salt Lake journal with summaries of limited to the natural observations from Thoreau’s Journal kept (Thoreau, Blake ed. 1929), but I do not note those portions of his entries regarding his Transcendentalist philosophical or social commentary for which he is so well-known. Edited copies of Thoreau’s journals have also been published in sections in the titles that may be familiar: “Early Spring in Massachusetts”, “Summer”, “Autumn”, and “Winter”. Another famous nature journal keeper was John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, who wrote about the Sierra Nevada mountain range of central California which is also located at a similar latitude (Muir, Wolfe ed. 1979). Muir’s journals predominantly contain revelry for nature and relatively less natural observations, and annotations summarizing his natural observations are not included here. Baker wrote two nature journal books in the late 1960s. A draftsman, avid walker and amateur naturalist, Baker was facing two challenges. First, he foresaw what in 1967 was then the probable extinction of the peregrine falcon. Second, he was facing a debilitating illness that would shortly prevent him from walking any distance. Seeking to make some statement before his demise, he wrote two wonderful books: First, in journal was his 1967 The Peregrine. The second came in 1969: The Hill of Summer. In Peregrine, he followed and noted the activities of Peregrine falcons near the west coast of England during the winter of 1966 (Baker 1967). His journal entries made almost every other day for six months are emotionally charged, condensed literature that puts the reader in the mind of another species. Like Thoreau, they are a model of one ordinary human reacting to the power of the natural world. In his second and last book, In the Summer Hill, Baker organizes his nature observations for a wide area of the English country-side by month for April through September, and he summarizes twelve years of observations in a chapter narrative form (Baker 1969). Stylistically, this journal follows Baker’s first-person style of Hill, but like Thoreau, it focuses on daily observations for a single entire year. Again following Baker’s Peregrine, but unlike Thoreau, it focuses on a single well-defined location.

Despite the differences in the respective times of Barnes and myself, I share with Barnes and other predecessors a love for the natural environment of the Wasatch canyons that still dominates despite many man-made alterations. I hope this journal provides an updated snapshot similar to Barnes, albeit less scientific and more personal, of one of the Wasatch canyons sixty years after his “Four Seasons”.

In addition to literary DNA, books can also have a geographical genealogy. Barnes’ “Year” covers the Wasatch Front Mountain Range north to Farmington and south to Provo, while this writing focuses on one of the canyons the Salt Lake valley of the Wasatch Mountain Range. Charles Keller’s 2010 “The Lady in the Ore Bucket: A History of Settlement and Industry in the Tri-Canyon Area of the Wasatch Mountains” concerns the history of three other Salt Lake Canyons to the south of City Creek: Millcreek, Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood Canyons. Jeff Carlstrom and Cynthia Furse’s 2003 “The History of Emigration Canyon: Gateway to Salt Lake Valley” concerns the history of the Salt Lake Valley canyon to the immediate south of City Creek. Terry Tempest William’s 1991 eco-feminist biography, “Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place” concerns her mother’s passing from cancer caused by above ground nuclear testing, but its physical settings, in part, are birding outings at the Great Salt Lake to the west of the City Creek. Stephen Trimble’s 1994 “The Sagebrush Ocean: A Natural History of the Great Basin” is an essential classic that puts the mid-elevation Gambel oak and Big Tooth maple forest of City Creek Canyon in the context of about eleven other major habitats in the west’s Great Basin. Trimble holds a masters in ecology and his professional career has been as nature photographer. Both expertise are evident in “Sagebrush Ocean”. Too many other excellent books exist that all cannot be listed here, and many of those concern the history of Salt Lake City and also touch in passing on the history of City Creek Canyon.

This journal primarily concerns that portion of the canyon that begins at the intersection of Bonneville Drive and City Creek Canyon Road (Start) and ends along the road two-miles up-canyon of the start point.

Location: 40.824201,-111.850067,14329 Link to Google Maps

References

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Newspaper Articles

Historical newspaper articles are available from the Utah Digital Newspaper Project, an online database of the Marriott Library, University of Utah. Link Current newspaper articles from the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News can be found through either of their respect websites or through database providers like ProQuest or Nexus. Specially significant articles are listed below, but the remainder are cited in the main text only by date of publication.

Deseret Evening News. (1895, Oct 9). Our Home Manufacturers. Deseret Evening News. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Deseret Morning News, and Snyder, B. (2003, Aug 1). City Creek to be raised. Deseret Morning News. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Deseret News and Romboy, D. (2016, Jul 11). Rep. Jason Chaffetz introduces bill to manage central Wasatch Mountains. Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Intermountain Republican. (1908, Apr 23). Government Increases Capacity of Nurseries. Intermountain Republican. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Intermountain Republican. (1909, Jan 17). City’s Supply of Water Increases. Intermountain Republican. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Intermountain Republican. (1909, Jun 9). Cooler Waters Check Streams. Intermountain Republican. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Record of the Times. (1869, Oct 6). Brigham Young’s Property. Record of the Times, p. 1. Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Retrieved from 19th Century Mormon Article Index, Brigham Young University. Link

Salt Lake Herald. (1883, Dec 2). City Creek Catch. Salt Lake Herald. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Herald. (1892, Dec 28). Games Laws Violated. Salt Lake Herald. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Herald. (1893, Dec 13). To Annul the Contract. Salt Lake Herald. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Herald. (1894, Jan 31). The Water Department. Salt Lake Herald. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Herald. (1898, Apr 16). They Planted Trees. Salt Lake Herald. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Herald. (1905, Jun 28). Canyon Drive for Salt Lake. Salt Lake City Herald. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Herald. (1908, Jan 28). George Crimson, Pathfinder and Pioneer, Dies at Advanced Age. Salt Lake Herald. Link

Salt Lake Herald. (1920, Apr 16). Trees Perpetuate Memory of Hero Sons. Salt Lake Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Herald. (1920, Apr 25). City Creek Canyon Bridge is Revived. Salt Lake City Herald. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Telegram. (1903, Jul 21). Red Men Hold Pow Wow. Salt Lake City Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Telegram. (1914, May 23). Salt Lake will have Boulevard of Unrivaled Beauty When Thirteenth East is Paved. Salt Lake City Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Telegram. (1916, Sep 10). Seven Bears are Killed Near City in Six Days. Salt Lake City Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Telegram. (1917, Jan 31). Prisoners of City to Work on Roads. Salt Lake Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Telegram. (1920, May 24). Plans for City Creek Canyon Prepared. Salt Lake Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Telegram. (1920, Nov 5). Great Plans for Canyon Ready. Salt Lake Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Telegram. (1924, Apr 15). Many Trees Planted Despite Wintry Blast. Salt Lake Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Telegram. (1926, Jun 14). Memorial House Formally Opened; Heroes Eulogized. Salt Lake Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Telegram. (1926, Jun 27). Solider Dead Honored with Bronze Plaque. Salt Lake Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Telegram. (1926, Dec 17). Moving Chestnut Tree Proves Task. Salt Lake Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Telegram. (1927, August 17). City to Receive Park Gift on Friday. Salt Lake City Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Telegram. (1927, September 14). Mueller gives summer estate for city park. Salt Lake City Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Telegram. (1927, Oct 8). Monument to Utah Soldiers Presented to City. Salt Lake Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Telegram. (1951, Dec 27). Water Posers No Nearer S. L. Solution. Salt Lake Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Telegram. (1935, Apr 2). Canyon Bridge Plan Protest Presented. Salt Lake Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Telegram. (1952, Jan 5). Plan to Purify Water Wins Salt Lake Approval. Salt Lake Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune. (1894, Jan 31). The Water Department. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune. (1895, Feb 6). Only a Half a Million. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune. (1896, Jan 23). The Red Bird Mine. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune and Swenson, P. (1994, Feb 4). Utah Under Cover. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Proquest No. 288718969.

Salt Lake Tribune. (1898, Apr 16). Trees for City Creek. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune. (1901, Jan 23). To Vaccinate Canning. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune. (1901, Sep 16). How Sunday was Spent by Many Residents of the City. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune. (1903, Apr 5). Forty Years in Zion: John N. Miller’s Interesting Reminiscences of Early Days in Salt Lake – Twenty Seven Years with the Tribune. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. href=”http://digitalnewspapers.org”>Link

Salt Lake Tribune. (1903, May 24). Some Beautiful Places Around Salt Lake. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake City Tribune. (1903, Dec 27). Reach Out for Water. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City. By Hines, Salt Lake City Water Superintendent. Link

Salt Lake Tribune. (1905, Jan 19). Luce Tells of City’s Water Supply. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune. (1908, Jan 4). Raleigh’s Good Work. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune. (1909, Feb 20). City Engineer’s Report Annual Report Reviews Work of the Department and Bristles with Recommendations. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune. (1912, Apr 14). Plan to Beautify City Creek Canyon. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune. (1913, Jan 1). Submits Plans for Improving Water Service. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune. (1916, Jan 2). City Water System has been Greatly Expanded. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune. (1916, Dec 31). Public Favors Development of Park System. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune. (1918, May 1). 1000 Pine Trees Planted in City Creek Canyon. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City. Link

Salt Lake Tribune and Ure, John. (1991, Feb 3). Officials Eye Proposals for Use Of Memory Grove Building. Salt Lake City, Utah. Proquest No. 288419925.

Salt Lake Tribune and Goodman, Jack. (1993, May 30). Memory Grove Meditation Chapel marks soldiers of World War II. Salt Lake City, Utah. Proquest No. 288537799.

Salt Lake Tribune and Goodman, Jack. (1994, Jul 31). Memorial House spruced up, but Memory Grove needs considerable attention, too. Salt Lake City, Utah. Proquest No. 288624560.

Salt Lake Tribune and Monson, Carolyn. (1994, Sep 16). Thanks for the Memory, Good Times to Live Again in Historic Building in S.L.’s Memory Grove. Salt Lake City, Utah. Proquest No. 288719193.

Salt Lake Tribune. (1994, Oct 16). Restoring Memory Grove. Salt Lake City, Utah. Proquest No. 288614825.

Salt Lake Tribune, and Rosetta, D. (1997, Apr 23). Runners Aim To Preserve Pal’s Legacy. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Proquest No. 288859267.

Salt Lake Tribune and Ure, John. (1997, Nov 9). Efforts Under Way to Restore Memorials to Utah War Veterans. Salt Lake City, Utah. Proquest No. 288771764.

Salt Lake Tribune and Hansell, C. (1998, May 12). Walk-Run to Benefit City Creek Canyon. Salt Lake City, Utah. Proquest No. 288770038.

Salt Lake Tribune and Kapos, Kathryn. (1999, May 9). This is a bittersweet day for a select group of Utah women who have lost their sons to war. Salt Lake City, Utah. Proquest No. 288922814.

Salt Lake Tribune and Loomis, Brandon. (1999, Aug 19). 500 Helpers Descend on Broken Grove. Salt Lake City, Utah. Proquest No. 288950171.

Salt Lake Tribune and Woolf, Jim. (1999, Sep 24). Donation to Help Restore Park. Salt Lake City, Utah. Proquest No. 288888127.

Salt Lake Tribune and Warchol, Glen. (1999, Sep 30). Dogs Get Pond Near Off-Limits Creek. Salt Lake City, Utah. Proquest No. 288883923.

Salt Lake Tribune and Walsh, Rebecca. (2001, Jul 20). Iron Gate Proposed to Cut Traffic On Sugar House Residential Streets. Salt Lake City, Utah. Proquest No. 281215616.

Salt Lake Tribune and House, Dawn. (2003, May 26). Memory Grove About Heroics, Tragedy of War. Salt Lake City, Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah. Proquest No. 281295805.

Salt Lake Tribune, and Heather, M. (2006, August 29). Chamber’s SLC vision: Trails, Rails and Culture. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune, and Jensen, D. P. (2008, May 20). Part of Pipeline Trail closed for weed control. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Salt Lake Tribune and Sanchez, Jennifer. (2008, Jun 6). Utah Pride marks years of struggle. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Proquest No. 282201755.

Salt Lake Tribune and Ure, John. (2011, Feb 11). Salt Lake Rotarians mark centennial with smiles. Salt Lake City, Utah. Proquest No. 848928279.

Salt Lake Tribune and Smart, C. (2011, April 29). River on State Street unlikely in 2011, official says. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. ProQuest No. 864039697.

Salt Lake Tribune and Davidson, L. (2012, March 28). How Utah’s Capitol marches to a Mormon beat. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune, and Baird, J. (2012, October 22). Urban Jungle: When development meets nature, 10-22-2012. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune. (Feb. 24, 2015). Family of Utah boy killed by bear reaches settlement with state. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake Tribune, and Tanner, C. (2016, July 15). Utah Lake closed due to health concerns from large algal bloom. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Salt Lake Tribune. (2016, July 28). Land acquisitions will protect Salt Lake City’s watershed and Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah.Link

Salt Lake Tribune, and Maffly, B. (2017, January 23). Salt Lake City has too much control over watersheds, Utah official says. Salt Lake City Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Link

Contact

Site author: Kurt A. Fisher, Salt Lake City, Utah. I am a mathematics student, a tutor, and a paralegal (NALA ACP) who has resided in Salt Lake City and who has hiked, back-country skied, and walked over the Wasatch Front Mountains for over 35 years.

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