On Thursday May 1, Gary Fawson of Grantsville presented a fascinating report to the Sons of Utah Pioneers Settlement Canyon Chapter about trees and their importance to early pioneers, and how we came to have so many varieties of trees in Utah today. Fawson cited policies, city ordinances and even church guidelines that all brought about the planting and husbanding of trees. The prophesy that “The desert shall blossom as a rose,” has been steadily fulfilled since the pioneers first arrived in 1847. At a time when acre lots were selling for $1.50 in Salt Lake City, Brigham Young recommended nine shade trees were to be planted along the front of the lot, and if your lot happened to be a corner lot, then 27 trees were encouraged. Additionally, fruit tree planting was admonished, and the bottling of the harvest strongly urged. The time eventually came when it was cheaper and easier to buy canned fruit, rather than get up in the middle of the night to take your irrigation share, and family orchards started to decline in importance.
Trees have been such a significant part of the Fawson’s life, that ten years before moving back to Grantsville where he grew up, Gary and his wife purchased a tract of land, dug a well and planted hundreds of trees that would be mature when they were finally able to leave Northern California and come home. Their labors have continued since then, and today those trees have become a veritable paradise for the Fawson family and all who visit them. Anyone who remembers the tall Lombardy Poplars that shaded and protected the irrigation ditches throughout Grantsville will understand why Granstville was named “The Shade Tree Capital of Utah.” When the irrigation water was put into pipes, the irrigation ditches dried up, and so did those magnificent Poplars that were such a shady invitation. The Fawsons still continue their mission today and encourage everyone to plant as many trees as possible.