Thursday, July 30, 2009

Huge hole in the earth and quirky little park in Salt Lake City

Tuesday was the last day my visitor would be in town.  We went out to see the Great Salt Lake, then to the Bingham Copper Mine, to Gilgal Gardens and finally to The Museum of Natural History up at the University of Utah. 
It's been a long time since I've been out to see the big pit, at least 10 years.  A lot has changed since then.  They moved the visitor's center, since the hole is a lot larger.  The most noticable thing, at least at first, is the increase in security.  From zero to the President sleeps here.  Last time I was there you just drove up to the visitor's center, walked out to the rim and took pictures.  Now you have to check in with Security at the front gate.  They give you a pass to hang on your rearview mirror, jot down the # of people in your car on a number coded stub from the hanger and charge you $5 a car.  A sign tells you that you are only permitted to take pictures at the visitor's center, and all the way up you are reminded not to stop and not to take pictures.  And there's a security dude in his truck at the center to make sure you follow all rules.  Jeese, it's just a hole!
One of those bigass tires that go on one of those bigass trucks that haul the dirt and ore out of the pit.
My pciture of their picture of the pit from the air.
Gilgal Gardens is a small little place in the heart of Salt Lake City.  Originally it was the back yard of a private residence, but when the house went up for sale, to prevent the destruction of this little oddity, Salt Lake City purchased the property.  Thomas Child started working on it in 1945 and worked on it until his death in 1963.  It's full of rock carvings like this statue of the sphinx with the face of Joseph Smith.  Rocks with engravings of scriptures form pathways and walls all over the place.  There is a statue of himself and one of his wife.
Below is a rock carving of a Mormon Cricket.
In the center is a sculpture of Thomas Child, surrounded by what looks like tools he used for farming and the carvings themselves.  One of the groundskeepers, an lady in what I would guess is her 70's, told us that he did all the carvings and engravings himself - except for the faces.  He didn't do faces so he had a friend of his carve all the faces for him.
A little set up of stones with scriptures, both standing up and on the walking stones.  I told the lady that I used to come here with my friends back when I was in high school and that I remembered it being a lot more overgrown, and that they had obviously cleaned it up since the city took over.  I also asked if anything had been moved around during the cleaning up or if everything was still in it's original place.  She told me that nothing had been moved, everything was in the place that Thomas had put it.  She also said to me, in response to my telling her that my friends and I visited there back in high school, "So, you and your little friends were some of the ones that used to sneak in and smoke marijuana in the corner there?"  Uh, no, not me!  She just smiled, chuckled and went on telling us about the history of the place.
Some sort of garden of stone body parts. If you click on the link below you can see them close up.
To see the rest of the pictures from that day go here: Bingam Copper Pit & Gilgal Gardens
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J said...

Can we pretend I'm from out of town and have you take me to the Gilgal site? How sad is it that I've never been.

J said...

Oh, and you would have had fun here in San Diego. Lovely weather and great times ;)

A Paperback Writer said...

Okay, well, while I had that "lovely" trip to the doctor's office, you two went to someplace I'd never been before and someplace I'd never heard of before.
Why all the security at the pit? Is there anything that anyone could possibly steal there? Are they afraid someone's going to use photos to set up a raid some night? So they can get inside and run around in a big hole? Are they afraid someone's going to bomb it?
I'm clueless.
As for the garden, I had no freakin' clue it existed. And, like you, I knew plenty of people who lived in that general area while Iwas attending dear old East side High. The big "hidden" garden hang out for them was The Garden Park Ward, which is an older LDS church building set on some lovely grounds. I'd never heard of Gilgal gardens. Odd.
Geez, talk about "secret gardens" -- which I will do in my blog tomorrow, but your garden experience beats mine.

Anonymous said...

Where exactly on the grid is this garden place?

Max said...

J - as long as you pretend you're from Sweeden and talk like the the chef on the Muppets the whole time. So, when are you going to be in town for me to take you there?
Writer - what, you've never heard of the Bingham Copper pit? Oh, wait. Guess I should read the whole comment before I start to respond. I got kicked off the Cottonwood Mall property one time for taking pictures of the demolition. I couldn't figure that one out either, what was I going to do, blow up the building they were tearing down? If you pretend you're from Scotland and talk with a Scottish accent, I'll take you there too...
Anonymous, whomever you are - It's at 749 East 500 South. If you talk with, let's see, a, hmm, say a Russian accent, you can go with us also.

A Paperback Writer said...

Aye, laddie, that I can do fer ye.