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Current Museum Exhibit



(The Brigham City Museum's exhibit "Journey Stories" continues through March 21)                                   

                                    Presentation by Byron Knutsen

                                                 Preston, Idaho

 

                   “Freight and Wagon Roads in Western Curlew Valley,

                                           Box Elder County, Utah”

 

                                        Saturday, March 21, 3-4 p.m.
                                                              
                                                  by Mary Alice Hobbs

 

            Pioneer wagon roads and trails with their axle-deep mud and washed out chasms are among the last visible icons of a dramatic, bygone era in Western Curlew Valley in Box Elder County, Utah. Curlew Valley is a 23-mile-long area located on the northern border of the Great Salt Lake.

            Byron Knutsen of Preston, Idaho, has spent 12 years hiking and mapping the valley’s roads and trails that often extended into Idaho. He will give a presentation about his adventures at the Brigham City Senior Center on Saturday, March 21 from 3-4 p.m. Admission is free. The center is located above the Brigham City Museum at 24 North 300 West. The entrance is on the north side. The event is sponsored by the museum. For further information, please phone (435) 226-1439 or visit www.brighamcitymseum.org.

            Knutsen’s exploration included roads and trails to Snowville, Park Valley, Rose Ranch and communities near Kelton in Utah as well as to Boise, Black Pine, Idaho City and Atlanta in Idaho. Kelton, which was inhabited between 1869 and 1942, was once an important section station for the First Transcontinental Railroad. The town was also a major shipping and travel connection to the mineral-rich mountains of the Northwest.

            Some of the artifacts Knutsen discovered during his travels were a hand-fashioned, y-shaped piece of wood that was used to either clean out or dig ditches; rocks scarred by iron wagon wheels; and an inner tube wrapped around a water pipe to cover punctures.

            When Knutsen found pieces of metal on a road northeast of Kelton that led to the southern end of the Wild Cat Hills and perhaps on to Snowville and Montana, there was a possibility it might be an ore road. A former resident of Holbrook, Idaho, told Knutsen that this road was used to haul ore from mines in Montana to Kelton prior to his youth. Also, Knutsen remembered reading about a freighter who hauled dynamite from Kelton to Montana on this same road. The freighter wrote about his experiences with runaway wagons packed with dynamite.

            In approximately 2002, Knutsen accepted the challenge to find and map the early-day trails when it was proposed by Laird Naylor of the Bureau of Land Management. Knutsen, who is an educator, was working during the summer as a surface surveyor of little dugouts at the Golden Spike National Historic Site when Naylor brought up the subject. Knutsen donated many hours to the project as a volunteer and an employee at Golden Spike.

            Currently, Knutsen is mapping water ditches used in the gold-mining days of the 1860s-1890s in Idaho City, Idaho. He has been mapping these ditches for two weeks each summer during 8 of the past 12 summers.       

            Knutsen was born and raised in St. Clairsville, Ohio. He has taught chemistry, advanced math and physics at the secondary level in Guam and Western Samoa as well as in Idaho, Illinois and Utah.

            Knutsen’s presentation is the final programming scheduled for the museum’s national traveling exhibit “Journey Stories” which closes March 21. “Journey Stories” is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and the Utah Humanities Council which provides leadership to empower individuals and groups to improve their communities through active engagements in the humanities.

Photo: Byron Knutsen