After nearly 100 years, Tooele High School is about to gain control of the land where the school’s iconic “T” rests.
The Tooele County School Board indicated at their Tuesday meeting that they will accept the assignment of the right-of-way for .25 acres of ground owned by the Bureau of Land Management.
That ground accesses the “T” on the Oquirrh Mountains next to the mouth of Middle Canyon. The “T” was constructed in 1915.
“I started worrying about the future of the ‘T’ when Rocky Mountain Power started talking about putting power lines over it a few years ago,” said Bill Gochis, Tooele High School principal.
Gochis’ inquiry lead him to Tooele County Commissioner Jerry Hurst.
In 2009, after being contacted by a representative of the Salt Lake Field Office of the BLM, Hurst signed an agreement with the BLM that granted Tooele County the right to operate, maintain, and terminate the Tooele “T’ site in perpetuity.
“I tried to get the BLM to make the agreement with the school district, but they said it had to be with the county,” said Hurst.
In 2013 Gochis met with Hurst and Tooele County Attorney Doug Hogan and launched, with the approval of the BLM, a plan for the county to legally assign their right to the “T” site to the school district.
The Feb. 11 agreement by the school board to accept the assignment was the first step. The process will be completed at the March 4 meeting of the Tooele County Commission, Hogan said.
“It is very significant that after 100 years, Tooele High School will be able to protect the “T” forever,” said Gochis. “Many students over the past years have worked on the “T.”
Construction on the “T” was started in 1915 by the first students of Tooele High School. Located due east of the school in the Oquirrh Mountains above Tooele Valley, the “T” was originally built out of white washed rocks.
In 1969, under the leadership of student body president Doug White, the rocks were replaced with concrete.
In 2001 the concrete version was superseded by Duro-Last roofing material donated by Broken Arrow, a locally-owned construction, excavation, and roofing company.
With the rights to the land “T” sits on in hand, Gochis’ plan is to maintain the “T” site as it has been historically used by the school since 1915.
The school only goes up to the “T” twice year: To light the “T” for homecoming and graduation, Gochis said.
“We are real excited to have the right to the “T” secured so we can protect and preserve it for future generations of Tooele High School students,” Gochis said.