Landmarks have a shelf-life. Landmarks seem to be somewhat generational, depending upon their usefulness to a particular generation. Some may last longer, even centuries.
Most of the landmarks I grew up with were definitely multi-generational landmarks. One classifies as millennial. Adobe Rock guards the entrance to the Tooele Valley. Perched atop a glacial moraine, it makes perfect sense to think that Native peoples used this landmark in much the same way as the latter day emigrants did beginning in the 1850’s.
It certainly was used as a camp site for the Indians inhabiting or just traveling through the valley. As you enter the valley from the east, its’ prominence stands clear. Once you arrive at the Rock, the view from the top is irresistible.
Fremont used it. Tooele Valley settlers used the rock in a similar manner. Government surveyors used the rock as a landmark and even built a way-station of sorts to the north of the rock that lasted (as an additional landmark for this lad) into recent times. Wagon trains, and later on, travelers on the Lincoln Highway no doubt camped there as well. Who knows how many of the Donner-Reid Party spent a quiet time there before beginning to cross the dreaded salt flats on their way to the Sierra Nevada’s?
A wee bit of my DNA intersects with Adobe Rock. John Gordon, my pioneer great-great grandfather, would go to the mill to get flour – I am certain he would use the Rock as a landmark on his journey. This story stuck in my head every time I climbed to the top of this landmark to survey my valley.
It’s entirely conceivable that Roland used this landmark.
Yet another significant man-made landmark lies just beyond Adobe Rock. The pioneers built a mill (Two Ponds Mill, Benson Grist Mill, or plain old Mill) that was powered by hydro-power from what is now known as the millpond. A huge structure for its’ day, for a time it was the tallest building between the Rockies and the coast. Wagon-trains knew of both these landmarks and were often mentioned in the diaries of those crossing the Valley.
The Mill signifies the ingenuity of our pioneer founders in that, given a supply of hydro power, all that was needed was to construct a three story mill adjacent to that source. Once the tallest building west of the Rockies was built, the small matter of providing machinery to operate within the mill took precedent – a story for another blog.
The building stands today as a testimony to the effort of our pioneers and their ability to overcome obstacles encountered while filling a need for the valley. It has fallen into generational-landmark standing, primarily due to the fact that it is not as visible as it once was. Other structures have been placed both around it and at the entrance to the valley.
The old Lincoln Highway that runs through the Mill’s front yard has been expanded to accommodate four lanes of traffic in many places. That very same highway is dotted with signs that are as tall or taller than the Mill. The venerable Mill is now camouflaged behind signs encouraging you to buy a larger home for your family or to get a vasectomy.
These current-day landmarks seem to contradict each other. 🙂 Pedro.