|Desert Lake 2001|
I remember the house that used to sit there near the lake when we headed to the Dinosaur Quarry. Someone told me that it was part of the town that was once there. Since then I've been piecing in my head what that town looked like. I couldn't get a good picture of more than a few houses, but then I heard they had a school as did Victor. I also read that the community was not successful because of a shortage of water and eventually the town was abandoned.
|Thomas Wells, one of first settlers in Desert Lake.|
|Thomas Wells 1925 in his blacksmith shop in Desert Lake|
Theora had a photograph of Thomas Wells (above) that I had never seen before. The 1949 Castle Valley A History of Emery County, compiled by Stella McElprang says that Desert Lake was settled by three men in 1888. Hans P. Marsing and Charley Winder had worked on the Cleveland Canal and had accepted stock in the canal for payment. They obtained land in the Desert Lake area. In Edward Geary's History of Emery County, we read:
Members of the Wells, Powell, Thayne, Winder, Marsing, and Pilling families took up land in this hollow between 1885 and 1888 and began work on an earthen dam...Their intention was to capture runoff from higher fields and also store the winter flow of the Cleveland Canal...The 1900 census showed a population of 127 in the Desert Lake precinct.(Geary, 114).The dam failed in 1896 and flooded the town, but it was rebuilt with help from the LDS church. And extension of the Huntington North Ditch, the town was able to continue until the 1930s.
We read from other historical accounts that there were many orchards, a nice school, store, post office, dairy, and good farms.The population was around 125. They raised children, attended church, had house parties, went sleigh riding, horseback riding, hay rack riding, ice skating, and of course there was dancing. "C.H. Winder developed a resort at Desert Lake featuring Saturday night dances and moonlight boat rides" (Geary, 246).
|Wilford and Charlotte Pilling with Woodrow on the horse-- Desert Lake 1920|
The old house stands alone now. Where once a family lived and worked, now there is nothing but the wind blowing dust through the open door. Where once there was laughter and the sound of little children, now there is nothing...nothing but the rustle of a rodent that has set up light housekeeping in the wall of the house. The old windmill creaks in the wind to let one know it is still there.Once there were horses and cattle lowing in the fields, now there is nothing. The wind blows the dust, and all is still and ghostly.The shortage of water during the drought-ridden depression years effected all communities but forced the demise of Desert Lake. Today there is nothing left there but a small cemetery and a few remnants that show it was once a living place. As you look at this forgotten place, it's good to remember that ghost towns are not sad; life did not die there-- it just moved on to a better future.
|An old house on Desert Lake|
Below are some people who lived in Desert Lake (If you know someone who lived there, leave a comment at the end of this blog) :
|Frances Isabell Cooley|
|Maruice and Bell Mills|
|Emily and Thomas Wells|
|John Wilford Pilling|
|Emily Wells and daughters Bertha, Luella, and Bell|
Kathy Hamaker from Price just sent me a picture of her husband Van's grandfather, Clifford Smith, who was born in Desert Lake along with three of his siblings. His parents were Joseph and Estella Holt Smith. Their oldest daughter, Pearline Smith was married to Charles Albert Mills and their first two children where born in Desert Lake.
Keep the information coming. Who do you know that lived in Desert Lake/Victor?
Also, check out Kathy Hamaker's work in preserving history for Carbon County at http://www.carbon-utgenweb.com and