In the first installment of the Landmark series, I mentioned that Landmarks seemed to be generational. It seems that the memories stirred up by Landmarks are very multi-generational.
The north end of the Tooele Valley has a number of Landmarks – Adobe Rock, Benson Grist Mill and the Lake Bonneville benchmarks on the Oquirrih mountains – being just a few. The Benson Grist Mill, being built in 1854, easily pre-dates the Salt Lake Temple and probably any other structure I can think of in Tooele. Much has been said about it by many sources. (BensonGristMill.org)
The reason for it’s existence is a spring-fed pond to the south and east of the Mill. True to their nature, it was dubbed the Mill Pond. Providing a reliable source of hydro-power, it is the reason the Mill exists.
The Mormon pioneers would bring their crops – grain or corn – to be ground down so that it could be used. While the grains were being milled, it seems that the families would use the Mill Pond to make the wait more enjoyable. Swimming, perhaps camping and certainly a picnic would be the order of the day.
More than a hundred years later, my family enjoyed water skiing with their friends in this very same Mill Pond. Even later, I would enjoy hours of fishing with a bow and arrow – never having much luck but determined to keep trying.
Friends posted about their memories of the Mill Pond. Building rafts, swimming, wading, catching frogs – in addition to fishing with rod or bow, were all mentioned. It brought back pleasant memories of Simpler Times. Folks even remembered ice-skating during winter months, long before the Mill Pond was developed further and incorporated into a new housing venture.
I thought it was our private marina. Little did I realize that the Mill Pond is a prime example of multi-generational Landmarks. I was somewhat short-sighted in my grandiose statement, as it seems my generation was just suing a Landmark that had been creating memories for centuries, literally.
Not only did the Mormon settlers begin to make memories at the Mill Pond beginning in the 1850’s, how many Native Americans use this Landmark as a part of their existence? One can only imagine the uses they found for this wonderful little puddle. In my minds-eye, I can envision the encampment in the same flats we used as a boat-ramp.
How many of the Donner-Reid party stopped and soaked their feet in the Mill Pond? How many other gold-rushers had our venerable Mill Pond as their last memory of the Utah Territory* before setting out across the Great Basin? The cynic in me forces me to ask how many of their descendants would gladly trek back to the peaceful valley in Utah to escape the rush of California now?
*Authors note: At one point, Tooele County extended to the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Always eager to explore new wonders and to claim all territory in the name of Erda, I didn’t realize I was easily not the first lad to enjoy a lazy summer day at the Mill Pond. I am glad I was not the last either. Not by a long shot.