Happenings June 2003
Early Moab Newspaper
Archives now available on-line
by Jeff Richards
a few mouse-clicks away for Internet users is a treasure
trove of Moab history, thanks to the recent electronic archiving
of over 25 years worth of early newspapers. In just over
an hour, I was able to glean many interesting tidbits from
the pages of the Grand Valley Times issues printed 100 years
ago (June and July 1903). Some of the articles may seem
trivial to today’s readers, but they provide an interesting
snapshot of what life was like here in Moab a century ago.
A complete searchable archive for the years 1896-1922 is
available for free at the following website: http://www.lib.utah.edu/digital/unews/gvt.html.
Each page (and individual article) is downloadable in PDF
format that preserves its original appearance. The project
was done by the University of Utah’s Marriott Library,
and funded via the Library Services and Technology Act.
The Grand Valley Times newspaper was founded in 1896 by
Justus N. Corbin, who was an attorney from Colorado. In
1919, it merged with the Moab Independent and became The
Times-Independent, which is still published weekly today.
Here are some of the highlights from the issues that I sampled:
In the Grand Valley Times’ June 5, 1903 issue, a scathing
letter from local fruit grower Charles Miller appeared on
the front page, opposing Utah Gov. Heber M. Wells’
appointment of Mons Peterson of Moab to the State Board
of Horticulture. In his letter, Miller said that Peterson
was not qualified to hold the position, and called him “a
crafty office seeker” and “a sycophant.”
In the following week’s issue, however, it appears
that Miller’s harsh words of criticism had backfired.
“Citizens who have been unfriendly or neutral to Mons
Peterson have flocked to his side in his defense of the
article published last week,” the paper said, noting
that Peterson had traveled to Salt Lake City to attend his
first board meeting in the earlier part of that week.
The agenda for the town’s upcoming Fourth of July
celebration was also featured prominently on the front page
of the June 12 and June 26 issues. A giant “powder
salute” at sunrise was to kick off the day’s
events. Parley P. Christenson of Salt Lake City was to be
the “Orator of the Day,” and his speech was
scheduled during the 10 a.m. to noon program, which featured
several other performances of “Music, Singing and
Recitations,” including the reading of the Declaration
of Independence by J. P. Miller. After lunch, children’s
races were to be from 1 to 3 p.m. ($15 in prizes to be awarded).
At 3 p.m. a baseball game (married men vs. single men) was
scheduled, to be followed by a “Basket Ball”
game for the “young ladies” and finally, a Tug
of War after the games ended. The last three events each
featured a $20 prize for the winning team. Free lemonade
barrels were to provide refreshment.
A couple of weeks later, the July 10, 1903 issue provided
an account of the Fourth of July celebrations went. The
brass band parade and drill team performance each received
special mention, as did the noontime feast. “The program
for the day was given in the order announced by the committee
in charge. There were no accidents to mar the pleasure of
anyone,” the paper noted. However, mention was made
of an incident that occurred at the celebratory dance later
that night: “At the dance in the evening an incident
occurred which marred for the moment, the pleasure of the
evening, Thos. Trout stuck Justice A. M. Robertson on the
head with his gun, and until our plucky little sheriff Wilson
appeared on the scene, was having things all his own way.
He was quickly qualshed[sic] and the dance went on merrily.”
The June 5, 1903 issue proudly announced the formation of
the La Sal Mountain Telephone and Electric Company, for
the purpose of building and operating telephone, electric
light, and power lines.” Noted the article: “The
first step of the company is to construct a telephone line
from Moab to Castleton and thence to Miner’s Basin
and the camps of the La Sal district.” It added: “It
is the intention of the company to put in a local exchange
at Moab, so that telephone communication may be had in all
parts of the valley. A number of citizens have already announced
their intention to have a ‘phone at their residence.”
The company (headed up and managed by Corbin, the paper’s
editor) said that it was also looking into bringing electric
lights to Moab in the near future.
are a few other items from the pages of the Times a century
• J.N. Corbin, the editor
of the Times while riding on the mountain was thrown by
his sorrel horse and his foot became fastened in the stirrup.
Mr. Corbin was dragged quite a distance over the rough
ground and was kicked by the horse. The shoe that was
caught in the stirrup broke in two and released Mr. Corbin’s
foot. Outside of a few bruises and a bad shaking the editor
escaped uninjured; had the foot not been released a different
story would have to be told. (June 12, 1903)
• About 4,000 head of mutton sheep passed through
Moab today, en route to Marshall Pass, Colo., from San
Juan county. They are owned by the Goodman Green Company
and were in charge of R. F. Roberson, of Moab. (June 12,
• Dr. J. W. Williams resigned his position as town
Trustee at the Town Board meeting Monday night. (June
26, 1903) [NOTE: Dr. Williams was a founding member of
the board of trustees of the town of Moab, first incorporated
Dec. 30, 1902].
• The construction of the La Sal Mountain telephone
line is well under way. This week the line was completed
several miles from the Moab end towards the mountains.
(June 26, 1903)
• Lester Taylor, L.L. Crapo, L.H. Eddy, John H.
Shafer, O.W. Warner, A. Larson, L.B. Bartlett, J.P. Miller,
John T. Loverage[sic], R.H. Stewart, and others have been
rusticating at Thompson Springs this week. While enjoying
seeing the cars go by, drinking at the spring, etc, they
have been giving due attention to Justice Ballard’s
court as prosecutors or defendants over Moab water. All
are expected back by the end of the week. (July 10, 1903)
• On last Saturday, Albert, the five year old son
of John Tangreen, while playing about the stacker, caught
his hand in the machinery and was severely and painfully
injured. The second finger was taken off at the first
joint, and others were broken and lacerated. Dr. Davis
dressed the hand, the boy undergoing the operation bravely,
with the exception of the loss of part of one finger his
hand will soon be not much the worse for the accident.
It was a narrow escape from the loss of the arm or perhaps
his life. (July 10, 1903)