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Long-time county resident and former Sheriff reminisces

Article Date: 
20 July, 2012 (All day)

Max Robinson is nearing 90 and is a great story-teller.  He is a walking history book of Morgan County. Max Robinson lives on Robinson Lane in Mountain Green; you know when you have a lane named after you that you are a landmark. His ancestors were some of the first settlers in the area, and the Robinson family has the distinction of being the family that is still here.
Mountain Green the Beautiful has several articles on this long and diverse history.   John Heber Robinson and his wife Lucinda Roberts Robinson lived in SLC, Provo, Uintah and then settled in Mountain Green--where the Warner place is now.  They had 11 children –among them two twin girls who died and are buried in the cemetery with two wooden crosses to mark their graves. 
John Heber built the log cabin that still stands in Monte Verde in 1874; he sold it to James L. Robinson. The house has undergone many additions and changes to it over the years.  But in the old part of the house, there is sawdust and bits of coal for insulation.  Legend has it that it was a trading post at one time and Indians would camp nearby in order to trade their goods.  Another Robinson brother, Juan, built the old Rock House on Robinson Lane. It is built from sandstone from Huntsville; it is over 100 years old now.  When Archie Robinson, Max’s dad, and his mom lived in the house, they had seven children.  Max was the only one born at home; the rest of the children were born at Dee hospital.  His grandfather also built the Gateway store which was located where the junction of the freeway is today.
Max attended school at the Peterson School.  Behind it was an old sagebrush hill.  At recess, they would get ropes and tie them on the girls’ arms and would drive them around like a team.  He said some of the kids would smoke cedar bark and would roll it in a piece of newspaper in order to smoke it.  There were two rooms:  in the little room were three grades, in the bigger room, there were four grades.  In 1936, the county consolidated the schools, and they were all located in Morgan.  He attended high school there.  He was never much for school, and “he’d get to looking out the window and wishing he was outside.”  On Fridays, sometimes at noon, he would decide to go home and walk along the railroad tracks heading to Mountain Green.  Several times, the principal would take off after him.
Max’s grandpa was a sawmill man.  He brought timber off the mountain to the south.  He had a waterwheel to the north of his property.  In the winter, he would bring logs over on bobsleds, and they would saw them in the summer.  They used double bitted axes and double man saws. They had a steam engine and put the mill in different places in the county.   He said in World War II, they invented everything—including the chain saw.  One of the chain saws they had (which were vastly different than those now) weighed 100 pounds on one end and had a handle on the other end.  It would only run if it was straight.  It kept running out of spark plugs.  His dad said, “Let’s put it down where the next tree we cut will fall on it.”  He said about his dad, “All he talked about was timber.”  He was a farmer and a good one, but all he wanted to think about was timber.   He bought the SL Hardware Co. and hauled logs in the Cottonwoods where the bank is now.  
When asked how he met his wife of 59 years, he said when he was working at the navy base a friend told him he had a girl for him.  So, he went down to meet her—and he said he made a logger out of her. 
He helped his dad at the sawmill and would get loads of logs.  He used to log some of the area that was originally owned by Thornley Land and Livestock.    One of the boys, an old bachelor, asked him to get some timber for a horse barn across the river.  He got timber from there for two years. Another place they logged was Cottonwood Canyon—about 12 miles up the canyon buying timber from different owners.  They also got timber out of Monte Cristo and the south fork of the Ogden River—Magpie Canyon.   “That’s when Betty and I got married (1953).  We logged that with horses.” 
His dad gave him a piece of ground, and they put a basement in.  When they applied for a loan, he couldn’t get it because the Eisenhower highways were going in, and it was going to go right where their home was.  His dad had a heart attack trying to saw timber, and when they brought him to the house, he passed away. He was 56 years old.  His wife, Max’s mother, passed away in August of the same year.  She was also 56. Max then took over the sawmill and farm.  He said it was good ground, but trying to irrigate it was one heck of a job.
When asked about his sheriff days, he said, “In 1968, about 10 o’clock at night, Sheriff Porter Carter came to visit.  I wondered when I answered the door if I was in trouble. The sheriff came in and talked and talked.”  Finally, when he got ready to leave, he said the commissioners had said he could have a deputy and asked if Max would take the job.  He worked as a deputy for three years under Sheriff Carter.  Porter’s health wasn’t good, and he moved to Arizona.  Max left when Porter left, but later Max applied when the next sheriff was asked to resign. There were 35 applicants and Max got the job and served for 15 years.  He asked for $800 a month.   He said he liked the job: “You never knew in the morning where you would end up.”
He had a great deputy, Deputy Briskey, and a great group of people that made up the Search and Rescue team.  Many were from Hill AFB, but he also mentioned Keith Ralphs and the Carrigan brothers in Morgan.  The worst cases that he remembered had to do with children.  He remembers the day they found Rachel Runyan up the old Trapper’s Loop Road.  A couple was picnicking there and found her body.  He described some of the details of the crime.  He said he thinks the killer had to have knowledge of the Trapper’s Loop Trail because it is so obscure. He also recalled another incident of a young boy that fell into the river and was caught in a drainage ditch.  He said, “Those incidents that involve children are the hardest to take.”
In addition to the sawmill, Max and Betty started their Christmas tree business. They bought some property from his brother Gary and planted 800 trees.  They still run this business and his son, Butch, replants the trees.  At Christmas, cars and trucks parked on the access road waiting to pick out their Christmas tree.
Max and Betty have two children:  Miles (known as Butch) and his wife Jeanie have three children.  Kim Gooch, his daughter, and her husband Jeff have three children as well. Keeping with the tradition, they live on Robinson Lane.  They also have 10 great grandchildren.