History of Sunnyside, Utah
Taken from the Utah Place Names

SUNNYSIDE

Sunnyside is located on U-l23 at the base of the Book Cliffs. This coal mining town developed in 1912 on the sunny side of the canyon. It had an earlier name of Verdi after a nearby railroad camp.

John W. VanCott

 

A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE
FOUNDING OF SUNNYSIDE, UTAH

As written by Nels Nelson for Jane Hopkinson.

Thirty years ago there was no Sunnyside. However, there used to be a place called Sunnyside down along the railroad close to Mounds. When the present Sunnyside was christened, they thought the other evidently did not have much “side” to it as it was located out in the open prairie, so Sunnyside was moved up to this high “mountain side." This canyon was known as the Whitmore Canyon, the creek running down here is known on the map as Grassy Trail Creek. The trail leading up the canyon at that time was used by sheep and cattlemen to drive their herds to and from the summer range. For a number of years, George Whitmore held possession of the canyon and a big portion of the land below the canyon known today as the Whitmore Farm.

Much of the land Whitmore held he had no title to. So about 1900 or before, other parties came in and filed on some of the land that was held by him before. Jefferson Tidwell of Wellington took the land where the Sunnyside mine was first opened. I remember the log cabin that Mr. Tidwell used to live in. It was located close to where the railroad water tank now stands. The company used the cabin for years to store sawdust for tamping in the mine. It was removed a few years ago and there is no sign of it now.

In 1899 the railroad was built from Mounds to Sunnyside, and from that time the development of the Sunnyside mines was commenced under the management of John Sharp and supervision of J. G. Williams. J. Sharp was local superintendent, Daniel Herrington engineer, Ray Gibson-chief clerk, Robert Forester-geologist. The mine foreman when I first came here was John Crawford. A man by the name of Thomas was master mechanic and Arthur Gibson was outside foreman. This was the official family at that time.

During the summer of 1900 there were 20 one and a half story houses built and most of the people were living in tents scattered all over the canyon where Sunnyside now stands. These first 20 houses and a few individual houses were finished by the last of September. The first Of October there were a few masons sent from Castle Gate to Sunnyside to build foundations for 20 more houses and I was one among them. That was my first trip to Sunnyside. In 30 days we had finished the work and were laid off for the winter. I went back to Castle Gate.

In the early part of 1902 they commenced building coke ovens. During that summer and fall the first 200 ovens were completed. The ring walls and domes of the first four ovens were built by Adolph Axelsen, John Hox, Lefe Hox and myself. By July 4 there were 50 ovens started. This was the starting point of the coke industry in Sunnyside. At intervals additional ovens were built; and as the ovens and miners increased their output, additional houses were built to accommodate the increasing working force until the number of houses was almost 400. The total number of ovens built were 819 of the Beehive type. One rectangular or pusher type was built a couple of years ago for experimental purposes. In 1918 when all these 819 ovens were in operation, it took about 2500 tons of coal per day. So the output from the mine had to be 3000 tons per day for 6 days to keep the ovens running 7 days per week.

Following are some of the church activities. In nearly all instances where an industry is developed and a number of workmen are gathered together, there is usually a number of Latter-Day-Saint (or Mormon) people there also. And one of' the first things that they try to get is ward organizations where they can attend to their religious duties. So, the people that came to Sunnyside were no exception, for their aim was turned in that direction and soon put into action. In January of' 1900, Sunnyside Branch was organized with John Potter as President of the Branch. Later in the same year, July 17, Sunnyside Ward was organized with John Potter as Bishop, B .M. V. Gould as first counselor, Samuel Naylor as, second counselor, and Albert McMullen as ward clerk. At this time they had no meeting house but held meetings in a tent located about where the meeting house presently stands.

But, it did not take long for the brethren and sisters to get together and make contributions for the purpose of building a house where they could meet. And as I understand, several of the brethren donated as high as $50 each to the building and with a united effort it took them only a short time before the meeting house was built. The building was finished in the latter part of 1900 but not dedicated until it was fully paid for on July 24, 1904. The following members of the Stake Presidency came to dedicate the building: Ruben J. Miller-Stake President, John H. Pace and Henry Mathis-counselors, and Arthur W. Horsley-Stake Clerk. The following brethren of the General Authorities were out from Salt Lake: Apostle John W. Taylor, George H. Brimhal. An account of the expenditures for the building was given by the Bishopric which amounted to $1800. The dedicatory prayer was offered by President R. J. Miller.

At the time of the organization of the branch, the Relief Society was first organized in Sunnyside with Shara Tidwell, President with Ruth Lidell and Mary Ann Coombs as counselors. The first Sunday School in Sunnyside was organized the last Sunday in January 1900 with George H. Richard as President, Samuel Naylor as first counselor, Bryant McMuellen as second counselor, Hannah Tidwell as secretary and Mildred Lidell as treasurer. Albert O. McMullen was the first Young Men's Mutual President and Della Gibson was the first Young Ladies' president. Hannah Powell was the first Primary President with Anna McMullen as first counselor and Anna Davis as second counselor

At the time when the ward was organized, there were 220 members which was considerably increased. I believe that between 1914 and 1918 was the high peak of membership in the Sunnyside ward. In 19l8 was the high peak of population with close to 3000 people. So from 19l8 until now it has been declining and still is.

The first district school was held in the meeting house during the winter of 1900. Joseph F. Darius and Louretta Anderson were the teachers. In 1901 the first school house was built and located in the same place where the school now stands, being close to the main road. George R. Richard was the first postmaster in Sunnyside.

This story was donated by David Hudson.

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