Nothing cries “I’m Home” more than seeing the lighted Christmas Tree on Little Mountain, or the “T” on “T Mountain” while driving south into Tooele Valley on State Road 36 after a crowded and frustrating day of shopping in Salt Lake. Once, after an exhausting month in the Holy Land, we found ourselves finally starting to relax when we came around the corner to see the “T” reflecting brightly in the early evening sunset. What a beautiful but homey valley and county we are privileged to call home.
The Tooele “T” was first constructed shortly after the high school was finished in 1914. Then it was simply rocks piled into the shape of a T, and needed heavy whitewashing at least once a year. It was later given wooded timbers to keep it from falling apart. When I was a senior at THS, it still was a pile of stones hemmed in by timbers. We “lit the T” at Homecoming and graduation with burning tires, a few of which, “accidently” careened down the steep slope as they merrily burned on. Of course, it was a blast to miss classes to whitewash the “T” a few days after burning it, by throwing buckets of whitewash on the charred rocks, and on each other. As a side note, it has never been proven that the junior class stole the senior classes’ thunder by lighting the “T” before them.
In a mammoth undertaking, and with Doug White as Student Body President leading the “Parade of the Bucket Brigade”, the “T” was finally cemented in place. This facelift lasted for several decades until Broken Arrow Construction, along with high school students, covered the then eroding “T” with white rolled roofing sometime in the mid-90s. The “T” is now lighted with flares, no whitewashing necessary thank you. Rumors are astir that plans are being talked about to once again improve our grand old “T”.
The lighted Christmas tree on Little Mountain was created in the early 1980s when the Chamber of Commerce came to the then manager of Utah Power and Light, James Bevan, asking for help in this project. Utah Power generously ran power to the top of Little Mountain, and it has been a Christmas Tradition ever since. For me, it’s a serene experience to see it lighting the way home as a sentinel watching over our town. Last I heard, the “Search and Rescue,” along with Wireless Beehive, have graciously undertaken the task of maintaining the tree, and Beehive even pays the power bill.
The Tooele Pioneer Museum is looking to showcase the bounteous beauties of Tooele County in its inaugural Tooele Pioneer Museum Photo Contest. This contest is totally free to enter. Anyone may shoot photos of early and modern day Tooele County history or Pioneer history. The two photos in this column are an example of acceptable entries. Photos need to be taken in Tooele County during the past two years showing places of pioneer or historical significance. We are not looking for old photos, but new photos of old and modern Tooele County history or pioneer places. Use your imagination. Landscapes and cityscapes photos of how things look now of history back then are sought after.
Awards for first, second and third place in each category will be chosen. The categories include Professional, Amateur, Youth (to age 18) and Senior Citizens. David Bern, managing editor of the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin, and a professional photographer himself, has graciously agreed to lead the judging. In addition, a “Best of Show Award” and “People’s Choice Award” will also be presented.
Photos must be 8x 10 or larger and cannot be matted or framed, but must have a card or foam backing in order to be displayed. They will be on display and can be voted on July 19, 20, 24, 26 and 27. All entries must be brought in to the Tooele Pioneer Museum on Wednesday, July 17 from noon to 6 p.m. All winners except the “People’s Choice” will be decided before the museum opens on July 19 for public inspection, which is also free.
So, dust off your cameras and give vent to your creative side. Win or not, you will enjoy the experience, as will those who come in to check them out. For more information, come by the Tooele Pioneer Museum at 50 East Vine St. and pick up instructions. We are open every Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4p.m. You might even enjoy the display of Pioneer and Native American artifacts and photos while there.