When my husband and I were planning a move back to Utah from a rural gold mining town in Nevada 16 years ago, I told him, “anywhere but Tooele.”
Just over three years later, when he got a job that compelled us to move from Tooele to a smaller community in Box Elder County, I ate those words. It took me longer to feel like “Tree-town” (Tremonton) was my home than the length of time we lived in Tooele, for I mourned the loss of many things I had come to love about this community.
As a “Rabbit” from Delta, born and raised in the same house my father built, I abandoned my roots early in our married life as my parents passed on and I had little reason to return to my native Pahvant Valley.
It seemed we had many reasons to make visits to Tooele family, and when my husband took on an internship at Salt Lake International Airport during grad school, we spent our first summer (of several stints) living in his parents’ basement. This was the first time I felt like I had come home. Many in this community instantly embraced us like family.
A little background: I married a Tooele City resident, who spent the first eight years of his life in Grantsville. A graduate of THS, my husband still proudly sings “Forever and forever in Tooele” and whose family has remained in Tooele Valley for six decades. His dad was a Tooele Junior High shop teacher and county building inspector.
His aunt, known throughout Tooele County School District as Laurie, and also known as the wife of famed and revered tennis champion and Coach Don Wayne Nelson, provide us even more extended family in this valley.
Six years ago, our family returned to my favorite Utah place and built a new home (after again living in my in-laws’ basement for a year). With all this in mind, I now offer my “Top Five Reasons Why I love Tooele County.”
First, the outdoors in Tooele is a playground and accessible. When we were in Tree-town, the closest canyon was Logan Canyon. Though the mountains in that valley are beautiful, no local canyon had a road that led to picnic tables, offered paved roads or had plentiful trails or creeks for fishing.
Our favorite of Tooele’s many canyons is South Willow, but last year I bought a season pass to Settlement Canyon, and Middle Canyon is also a favorite. Though we miss the fact that fishing in South Willow isn’t what it used to be, we have used the campgrounds, had many-a-picnic and bonfire to roast marshmallows, and I have fond memories of family hikes on the trails.
Secondly, I love the diverse population of Tooele Valley. There are many “life timers” who were born, raised and stayed in the county, but there are also many who have come to the valley because of affordable housing vs. Salt Lake City, and who were raised outside the county, state or even the country.
Many of these are highly educated, experienced country or world travelers, who spice up our communities even more. I have met lifetime friends living here, including: a California barrel-racing state champion; a talented singer from Nebraska; a colorful bibliophile from Scotland; a talented special education teacher who is a Cree from Montana; a fun, yard-sale maniac from Honduras; an amazing mother and interior decorator from Ecuador, who is married to a Cuban, and who has zigzagged back and forth to live in Florida and Tooele over the last two decades.
Third, it doesn’t matter what you wear or how you look when you shop in Tooele. This may be a downside for any fashion police out there, but I find Tooele people are the salt of the earth and they have the attitude that “you can take me or leave me — and that is your problem, not mine.” They are always eager to strike up conversations while in line at a store, at an outdoor concert or in a high school auditorium awaiting a play.
I have lived in communities where you need to look your best to go grocery shopping or you will feel inferior. I have never felt the pressure in Tooele County and for that I am grateful.
Fourth, the proximity to Salt Lake City offers huge opportunities for entertainment, culture, employment, food, and semi-professional and professional sports events.
Plus, in this valley, we have auto racing, ethnic food, wonderful trails and tracks for biking, motorbikes and ATVs, a great interest in running and other community and competitive sports, not to mention great community theatre opportunities for both actors and enthusiastic audiences.
My final reason to love Tooele Valley is the amazing views of the lake, especially at sunset. If you wake up early enough in the spring the sunrises are equally beautiful over the Oquirrh Mountains. My Facebook friends might just tire of my cover photo being the most recent sunset I enjoyed from my deck or the fans of the sun’s rays highlighting the mountain silhouette by my subdivision.
I could go on about the Fourth of July activities in the valley and more, but let’s just say since my naïve days in Nevada, this area has earned my heart. I hope I never leave.