In collaboration with Carol Warner Ralphs
Much history hides in every old building and around the hills and dales of Morgan Valley. In the 150 or so years of settlement, the valley has seen many changes.
Many families came, settled, and raised their families. The railroad came, improvements simplified their lives such as better roads and more modern conveniences. We will take a look at some of these changes through the eyes of one family. Many others worked beside them and some of their descendents are also in the west end of the valley. This is just some of the history of the county to give us a taste of the changes that have taken place. Many others have come after and families are still coming to this gorgeous valley. More changes are in store: nothing is as constant as change itself.
William G. Warner was born of pioneer parents who had crossed the plains and arrived in Salt Lake City, November 5, 1855. The rest of the winter was spent in near starvation conditions. They left for Ogden in 1856 and their first home was made of willows and filled with straw. At the age of seven, William had the misfortune of losing his father in a cave-in on the bench canal near the mouth of Ogden Canyon. His mother said to him after the funeral, “Well, Billie, you’re the head of the family now.”
At eight years of age, Bill’s job was to look after 75 head of sheep. As he grew up, he began to work for the railroad first as a call-boy and engine watchman and later a switch engine fireman. He married Minnie Candland and after moving first to Wyoming, they lived in Uintah where all their children were born.
William was by then an engineer on the railroad and was gone a lot. His wife, Minnie, “persuaded him [William] to buy the ranch [in Mountain Green] so the children would have work to do which would teach them to become good and useful citizens and stay out of trouble.” They bought a 160 acre ranch in 1898 on the north side of the highway just past where the Sinclair station is now.
The whole family moved to Mountain Green from Uintah about 1901. They eventually purchased more land in the area. The Warner’s raised cattle and took in herd cattle to fully utilize the range. In the spring, cattle were collected in a cattle drive starting at Great Salt Lake below Hooper, and as they drove through succeeding towns, farmers added their cattle to the herd. In the fall the Warner’s rounded up cattle and drove back to Hooper.
Minnie was a midwife to many women in the tiny community. She also was an organizer and …headed bond drives and got up petitions to get the lights and telephones in Mountain Green. She organized and was head of the baseball team. She baked 12 loaves of bread every other day for her big family, and they always had someone living with them—the school teacher boarded with them, besides the hired man for the farm work. It should also be noted that because of William’s busy schedule as a railroad engineer, Minnie was responsible for the day to day operation of the entire spread.
Another member of the Mtn. Green community wrote, “The people of Mountain Green worked hard because there were no shortcuts in those days. But they had time to visit each other. Friends didn’t drop in for a few minutes, rather they brought their families and stayed for hours or all day. In this way, they were very close to each other and shared each others sorrows and joys. Also, they helped one another in sickness and trouble.”
William still worked for the railroad and when he’d go by, he’d blow the whistle—two short toots and a long, and the children would say, “That’s Dad.”
“In one trip through the Canyon, William was involved in a near fatal accident. A huge rock thundered down the mountain side and rolled onto the track. The engine hit the boulder and rolled into the river. William managed to get out in time but his fireman was killed.” Soon after the accident, William retired after 37 years with the railroad. He eventually sold the ranch to two of his sons, Ralph and Harry. Paul F. Warner still owns part of the original Warner Ranch. The original barn, built by William in 1909, is still standing. You can see his initials (WW) in the block of cement over the door.
More History of Mountain Green will be in next week’s paper.