Mormon Trail AssociationMormon Trail AssociationHolladay Walking Tour


"A Historical Walking Tour of Holladay"

by Jay M. Todd

The idea to memorialize with historical markers some significant points in the history of Holladay, Utah, and to organize them into a self-guided "historical walk" for the benefit of the community is based on two premises:

(1) The sites of major events in Holladays first 30 years can all be spotted within a 1.9-mile walking experience.

(2) The unique achievements of many of Holladays original settlers in their 1846-47 trek from the deep southern United States en route to Holladay represent persons who merit memorialization, as well as do the major events and historical milestones marking the subsequent labors in establishing Holladay. Click here for the historical context of Holladay's earliest settlers.

The booklet is available at some local libraries and copies can be obtained at the Holladay City office, 801-272-9450.


Map of Markers (Walking Order)

(1) First Settlers of Holladay Memorial; 4778 Holladay Blvd. (west side)
(2) Map of Historical Markers; 4767 Holladay Blvd. (east side)
(3) The 1847 Dugouts; 4767 Holladay Blvd. (east side)
(4) Holladay's 1848 Family Homesteads; 4747 Holladay Blvd. (east side)
(5) Ann Brooks Andrus and Her Piano; 4680 Holladay Blvd. (west side)
(6) Neilsons Corner; 4678 Holladay Blvd. (west side)
(7) The Tithing Yard; 4602 Holladay Blvd. (west side)
(8) Holladay's 1853 Fort; 4688 South 2225 East (west side)
(9) First Utah Pioneer Cemetery outside Salt Lake City; 4900 Memory Lane (east side)
(10) Holladay's First Church & School Building; 1966 East Murray-Holladay Rd. (south side)
(11) The Lower (or Church) Canal; 1950 East Murray-Holladay Rd. (south side)
(12) Brinton's Blacksmith Shop; 1868 East Murray-Holladay Rd. (south side)
(13) The Expansion of 1849; 1810 East Murray-Holladay Rd. (south side)
(14) Holladay's First General Store; 4758 South Highland Dr. (west side)
(15) Map of Historical Markers; 4758 South Highland Dr. (west side)

Walking Distances
#l through #15; 1.9 miles
#l through #l5, minus #9; 1.5 miles
#l through #8; 0.7 miles
#l through #7; 0.4 miles
#9 through #15; 0.5 miles


No. 1: First Settlers of Holladay Memorial (4778 Holladay Blvd., west side)

John D. Holladay, a leader of the Mississippi Company of Mormon pioneers, entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 29, 1847. John Holladay's group explored the valley of the Great Salt Lake and its tributary canyons with an eye toward irrigation, wild hay for their animals, and waterpower for mills. Most of the Mississippi Company stayed together and by fall had planned their farms and community in the area of a free-flowing, spring-fed stream issuing from the base of Mt. Olympus. Thus the village of Spring Creek, as the stream was then called, was the first to be established away from Great Salt Lake City itself.

As soon as John D. Holladay was named presiding elder, the village took upon itself the name of Holladays Settlement or Holladay Burgh. In February of 1849 the first surveyed plots of land were issued to the settlers. (The above text is from the preexisting marker dedicated by the National Sons of Utah Pioneers [SUP] in 1994. The marker notes that the spot is Site No. 63, that the site was marked by the Holladay Chapter of the SUP, and that the map and information are from the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers [DUP] and Stephen L. Carr.)


No. 2 or 15: Map of Historical Markers (4767 Holladay Blvd., east side)
(Marker Nos. 2 and 15 are identical and show a map of where the markers are.)

No. 3: The 1847 Dugouts
; (4767 Holladay Blvd., east side)

Eastward 200 to 500 yards on Spring Creek's northern side in 1847, 2 or 3 men built temporary winter shelters called dugouts only months after entering Salt Lake Valley in July.

After arriving, LDS pioneers explored the valley and discovered a 1-1/4 mile-long creek emanating from springs near 2950 East, flowing southwesterly to Big Cottonwood Creek, near Highland Drive. They called it Spring Creek. Since they needed first to form farming communities to assure survival, Spring Creek offered year-round water for irrigation, homes, and livestock. Reportedly by fall a group was here planning farms and a community. They returned to the city to winter, except the men who built dugouts, making Holladay Utah's first pioneer community outside Salt Lake City.

Dugouts were made by digging a 12-ft.-square area about 4 ft. deep in the sloping creek bank. Corner poles 8 ft. long were set upright; secured to them was wall siding of split logs. Wood slabs, willows, and sod formed the roof, canvas or rawhide the door. Often one end of a dead tree burned in the floor's middle, the trees other end sticking out the doorway. When the fire burned low, more of the tree was pulled into the fire.

No. 4: Holladays 1848 Family Homesteads
; (4747 Holladay
Blvd., east side)

(Right: Drawing of an 1852 cabin built a few miles south of Holladay but of the same type that was built in 1848-49 by Holladay's first home builders; art by N. Kay Stevenson.)

Nearby in early spring 1848 the first group of Holladay settlers began to build houses, reportedly the first being brothers-in-law 29- year-old Aaron F. Farr and 27-year-old William H. Walker. Some say the first house was built in April near the southeast corner of Kentucky Ave. and Holladay Blvd.; others say it was on Spring Creek's south side. These houses, forming a close village for mutual help and protection, were rough log cabins, oblong in shape with a 3- to 4-ft.- wide stone fireplace on one side of a single room and openings for windows and doors covered with cloth or rawhide.

Next order of business in the total family affair of settlement was to clear land of sagebrush and bushes for planting crops and gardens and to find ways of getting water to crops. No effort was made to clear the densely wooded north lowlands along Big Cottonwood Creek. Reduced by today's water needs, the creek once was a large stream, often impassable in the spring. By fall the family of John D. Holladay had harvested 110 bushels of wheat. Also by fall a second group of settlers, many of. whom were relatives and friends of those who had come earlier, had arrived, and more house building ensued. Apparently rattlesnakes were attracted to some log houses, motivating families to build adobe homes.

No. 5: Ann Brooks Andrus and Her Piano; (4680 Holladay Blvd., west side)

(Left: A photograph of Ann Brooks Andrus taken several decades after she and her husband came to Holladay.)

(Right: A contemporary photograph of Ann's piano still on display in Salt Lake City's Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum.)

Here at Milo and Ann Brooks Andrus's adobe home during the mid-1850s and a decade thereafter, before any form of electronics existed, was the cultural and social center of Holladay, due to Ann's musicianship and piano. Ann studied music as a youth in London and taught music 5 years in St. Louis, where she bought an expensive, large walnut piano.

In 1853 at age 22, she came west with the understanding that her piano come also. But the heavy square instrument slowed the wagon train and was burdensome for the oxen, so decisions were made to jettison the piano. Ann's pleadings prevailed until the wagon train came to the Missouri River and an order was given to leave the piano. After the caravan crossed over, Ann could not be found until she was seen across the river sitting on her piano, refusing to go unless her piano go also.

Ann's piano was again loaded, becoming the second or third piano in Utah, the first in Holladay. For years Ann taught music, hosted parties, and taught school. Schoolchildren who had not whispered all week were invited to her home to hear her play. She also became a midwife, one who helped mothers give birth, assisting in the health of mother and baby. Today Ann's piano is in Salt Lake Citys Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum.

No. 6: Neilsons Corner; (4678 Holladay Blvd., west side)

(Left: A rare photograph showing the western back and southern side of James Neilson's original store that caused the locale to be known as Neilson's corner.)

At this site, 24-year-old James Neilson built in 1880 a small brick general store a mile east of Brinton's Corner at Murray-Holladay Rd. and Highland Dr., the community's early commercial center. The Neilson store flourished, accepting cash or trade in commodities and making deliveries to outlying customers. Soon called Neilson's Corner, the locale was Holladay's business center for half a century, partly because most residents then lived on the eastern side.

In 1890 Jim built a 2-story brick building at the intersections southeast corner, one of the largest business buildings in rural Utah at the time. Located in that store for a while was the community post office. The Neilson family band played in the upper story, using it as a dance hall until 1904. Jim reputedly had Holladay's first radio, auto, electric lights, water line, and sidewalk (leading from his store southward to Spring Creek), and he ran the passenger transport line from Salt Lake to Brighton. The second store became a theater in the 1930s, burning in 1937 and ending 57 years of Neilson buildings that made this locale a Holladay focal point.

No. 7: The Tithing Yard; (4602 Holladay Blvd., west side)

Near this site for many years of 19th-century Holladay was located the "tithing yard" - a barn, corral, scales for weighing hay and grain, and a storehouse for home produce and products. LDS pioneers who founded Holladay followed Church teachings of donating one-tenth of their annual increase to the Church; because cash was scarce, many members donated at market value their tithing in animals, chickens, eggs, vegetables, and goods made at home. Other persons donated 1 day of work in 10 to Church work projects such as community canals, roads, and Church and school buildings.

A Holladay family might donate livestock, perhaps resulting in an overpayment of tithing, and receive credit for surplus goods that were in the storehouse or yard. For years the LDS Church printed tithing scrip, which was an important currency in the 1850s and thereafter. Holladays tithing yard and storehouse met many community product exchange needs and, with tithing yards elsewhere, provided LDS Church headquarters with food and supplies for persons employed on its public work projects and generated income to pay its creditors. In 1890, when this tithing yard still existed, two-thirds of all tithing donations were in livestock and produce. By 1900, when Holladay's tithing yard and storehouse were cleared away, two-thirds of such donations were in currency.

No. 8: Holladays 1833 Fort; (4688 South 2225 East, west side)

(Right: A striking photograph taken around 1900 of part of the old 1853 fort area. At right is the 1873 chapel, and at left is the 1895 school, a predecessor of today's Olympus Junior High School.)

Here in 1853-54 on about 4 acres, Holladay settlers built a fort to defend against possible Indian raids. Fear swept pioneer Utah in the fall of 1853 from a half dozen Indian attacks, primarily in central Utah. Subsequently this fort locale served as Holladay's Church, school, and community center for more than a century.

The rectangular fort of adobe mud and straw, with walls 18 inches thick at the base and tapering in thickness to a height of 5 or 6 ft. on the fort's eastern, southern, and western sides, probably was never finished. The southern wall had 2 portholes, about 2 ft. square on the inside and tapered to a small slot on the outside. At least 1 existing house - perhaps 2 - helped form the eastern wall; the north side was left open. (A plaque on Olympus Junior High School's eastern end also marks the fort locale.)

Holladay's 161 residents were invited to move into the fort if they desired, but few if any did. For the safety of schoolchildren and Church, social, and public gatherings, all such functions were transferred from the 1849 Church and school building a half mile west to an adobe house inside the fort purchased for these purposes. The house, remade into a church and school, is said to have been under the northeastern part of Olympus Junior High's auditorium. Soon the house was enlarged to 14 by 30 ft. until a new adobe Church and school building was built in 1861 on the same site.

In 1873 Church and school functions in the same building ended when a church was built, still at the fort locale, near the northwest corner juncture of Murray-Holladay Rd. and 2225 East, yet not too distant from the Church's nearby tithing yard and storehouse. Various remodelings of this church served LDS members until 1972.

In the meantime, the new 1873 church left the 1861 building for school and civic needs until, in 1876, a 2-room District 28 schoolhouse was built on the same site to accommodate additional school children. In 1893 a 2-story, 4-room school was built immediately south of the 1876 school, which was turned into a gymnasium in 1905. Also in 1905, the school was renamed Irving School. In 1910 a 3-story Irving Junior High was built a little west of the 1893 structure (the schools name was changed in 1943 to Olympus Junior High).

In 1928 Holladay Elementary School was built about 200 yards northeast of the old fort. Thus, setting aside a fort area in 1853 created what would become Holladay's historic community center.

No. 9: First Utah Pioneer Cemetery outside Salt Lake City
; (4900 Memory Lane, east side)

In 1848, when the first pioneer death occurred in Holladay, the cemetery knoll southeast of here, overlooking lowland watery meadows of a then meandering Big Cottonwood Creek, was selected as community cemetery. Tradition has it that the first burial was a baby. For 127 years, local LDS Church leadership oversaw this 13-acre cemetery in behalf of the entire community. In 1975 the cemetery was sold.

In early pioneer Utah times, burial was generally 1 to 2 days after death. Families themselves often dug the grave 5 to 6 ft. deep. The deceased person was dressed in regular clothing or in a burial shroud (a long nightgown-type of burial dress) and placed in a snug-fitting wooden box or in blankets and cloth material. Funerals were a community affair, most persons participating one way or another - attending the funeral at church, providing food for participants after the service, or helping the bereaved family do their chores.

No. 10: Holladays First Church and School Building
; (1966 East Murray-Holladay Rd., south side)

Not many feet from here, Holladay settlers built in 1849 their first church, used not only for Church meetings on Sunday and other days, but also as a school, town hall, and for community socials, such as a dance where the ticket could be corn, flour, or a potato. The building, about 14 ft. square and with a fireplace on one side, was said by some to be a log structure and by others as having adobe sides and a roof of logs, brush, and dirt. For school needs, a wood slab stretched along one entire inside wall. Students took turns sitting along the slab for writing assignments if there were more students than slab space. Parents paid the teacher I dollar monthly per child; sometimes the pay was in food, building rocks, or whatever the teacher needed.

Young people helped make adobe bricks, or "dobies" as they were called. A hole was dug about 2 ft. deep and 4 ft. in diameter. Clay and water were put in, stomped and mixed by bare feet until the clay was moist and pliable. The mud was rolled into balls, slapped into wet wooden molds, then put in the sunlight to dry by slipping the molds away from the adobe. When one side was dry, bricks were turned for the other side to dry, then stacked to season.

No. 11: The Lower (or Church) Canal
; (1950 East Murray-Holladay Rdä south side)

Westward a few yards and seen today as a cemented waterway is part of what is said to be the 1849 Lower (or Church) Canal, dug to bring water from Spring Creek, and later from Big Cottonwood Creek, to land cleared for crops. It was called Church Canal because of its closeness to the church built about 30 yards eastward.

Holladay's east-end settlers dug the first water ditches, likely starting a canal also, while damming off portions of Spring Creek as it coursed to bottomlands 300 yards south of here. In 1853 east-enders enlarged and extended the Upper Canal, ultimately bringing water from Big Cottonwood Canyon 3 miles south, all able-bodied men in the area having been asked to help with plows and shovels. Eastward some 170 yards is seen the larger Jordan and Salt Lake City Canal, dug in the 1880s to take water into Salt Lake City. By the 1890s, several Holladay water companies had been formed that today still pro- vide drinking and garden water.

For more than a century, each spring all men and boys who could help set aside a day when their canal was cleaned of debris, bushes, and weeds to speed summer's waters onward.

No. 12: Brintons Blacksmith Shop
; (1868 East Murray-Holladay Rd., south side)

(Right: David Brinton in a photograph likely taken in the 1860s, when he would have been in his 50s.)

Here at early valley crossroads in 1851 or 1852, 36-year-old David Brinton established Holladay's first business enterprise, a blacksmith shop, causing this locale to be known as Brinton's Corner. North of Big Cottonwood Creek (today rerouted farther south) was Brinton's house, leaving ample room for his shop, horses, carriages, and customers.

In the 19th century, a towns blacksmith was an important resident drawing clients miles distant because he made or repaired wagon wheels, axes, metal tools, plows, chains, hinges, sleigh runners, and horseshoes. Blacksmiths often shaped or welded iron by heating an inch-wide iron rod in a fire (called a forge) and forcing air into the fire from a bellows, which raised the fire's temperature. When the iron rod was red- or white-hot, the blacksmith removed it from the fire with tongs and placed it on a metal anvil. He pounded the softened metal into the shape he wanted and dipped it into a bucket of cold water so the new shape would hold.

Children especially liked to watch blacksmiths shoe horses. Blacksmiths held up the horse's foot, cleaned and shaped the nerveless hoof with rasps and knives, then custom fit and nailed to the hoof a new U-shaped horseshoe.

No. 13: The Expansion of 1849
; (1810 East Murray-Holladay Rd.; south side)

In this vicinity at early Holladays western reaches (south to Big Cottonwood Creek, west a quarter mile, and northward) dozens of pioneers settled in spring 1849. Some of Holladay's first-year settlers left the original village center after evaluating conditions, likely wanting land more fertile, irrigable, and suitable for expansion. While some relocated south of Big Cottonwood Creek, others resettled along its northern high-ground areas as well as west and north of here. With almost no money and few commodities in the valley for purchase, early pioneers maintained homes that were primarily self-sustaining industrial centers, much of the work done by women. Yeast for bread was made from the foam of salt, potash, and flour mixture or from berries; soap made from animal fat and ashes of trees or corncobs; candles from animal fat. Dirt floors were covered with homemade rag carpets. Starch for ironing clothes was made from potatoes. Women spun wool to make shirts, dresses, and suits. Dyes for coloring fabrics came from plants - green from sagebrush, reds and purples from berries and roots, light brown from boiled onion skins, and yellow from boiled rabbitbrush.

No. 14: Holladays First General Store; (4738 South Highland Dr., west side)

(Left: The white building is thouht to be the back side of the 2nd Big Cottonwood Cooperative store, built in 1880 at the northwest corner of Murray-Holladay Rd. and Highland Dr.)

Near this site in 1869 opened Holladay's first general store, called the Big Cottonwood Cooperative, built by an association headed by LDS Church bishop David Brinton, the blacksmith at this intersection's southeast corner. Elsewhere and here, local LDS-related retail cooperatives were owned by stockholders but regulated by Church policy for the communities' good, here reducing the need to travel to Salt Lake City or Murray for supplies. In 1871, with the appointment of Brinton's son, David Branson Brinton, as a county postmaster, the store also served as community post office. In 1880 a larger store was built immediately south.

(Cottonwood Mall site showing the lowlands and sprawling Big Cottonwood Creek beds, a natural creek crossing)

In the early 1850s, main roads were made throughout the valley. One of them called County Road (today's Highland Dr.) was located here because nearby sprawling Big Cottonwood Creek beds made stream crossing much easier for horse and wagon. An east-west route came from Murray (today's Murray-Holladay Rd.), making this intersection a natural business center. Similar crossroads occurred at Holladay's eastern end. The Murray-Holladay Rd. bent northeasterly to follow the 1847-48 settlers' survey road. Within a few years another north-south route, called Upper County Rd. (today's Holladay Blvd.), crossed Murray-Holladay Rd. a mile east of here. These two intersections created Holladay's business centers.

Historical Sequence of the Markers

The historical markers are numbered and grouped as they are on the map to accommodate a convenient walking tour from one end of east-west historical Holladay to the other end. But that flow, of course, is not the historical flow of the events that have been memorialized. A historical flow of memorialized events would be the following:

(3) The 1847 Dugouts,
(4) Holladay's 1848 Family Homesteads,
(9) First Utah Pioneer Cemetery Outside Salt Lake City,
(13) The Expansion of 1849,
(11) The Lower (or Church) Canal,
(10) Holladays First Church and School Building,
(12) Brintons Blacksmith Shop,
(8) Holladays 1853 Fort,
(5) Ann Brooks Andrus and Her Piano,
(7) The Tithing Yard,
(14) Holladays First General Store, and
(6) Neilsons Corner

making 12 markers spanning Holladay's first 50 years, 1847-1897.

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