Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ophir Day

Last weekend, we went to Ophir Day. I don't know how things are in other parts of the world, but almost every town in Utah has a "day" where they celebrate whatever makes that town special - especially the small towns. So many of these are specific to what is grown in that area: Raspberry Days (Garden City/Bear Lake), Peach Days (Brigham City), Lamb Days (Fountain Green), Onion Days (Payson), Tomato Days (Hooper). Some of the towns have other celebrations that are based on a big event like the 4th or 24th of July. They try really hard to make these unique since thousands of other cities are celebrating at the same time (example: Pioneer Days in Fairview).

Ophir, however, celebrates an event: the arrival of the first train into the city. You see, Ophir was a mining town back in the mid-1800s. Soldiers in the area noticed that the local Indians were making bullets out of silver. The soldiers tracked the source of the silver, and then promptly got rid of the Indians.

It is located four miles up a tight canyon. I was surprised when I read that by the 1870s there were 125 homes and businesses crammed into this tiny place. A branch line was build and operated between 1912 and 1928. It connected to the main line that ran through Tooele at the time. The silver, copper, and ore deposits were quickly depleted and there was no need for an entire train line to be maintained, so after just 16 years, the rail was out of service.

However, the residents of the city (all 38 of them, according to the 2010 census), take great pride in the maintenance and upkeep of the city. They have quite a sense of humor, too. Many of the house signs are quite funny. Instead of giving the name of the family that lives there (the Smith's), the signs say stuff like "Ophir fun" or "Ophir Pete's Sake."

Many very old historical buildings have been moved and restored. These are open every Saturday during the summer from 11am-3pm for the public to tour. It's a quick tour, but it's worth it. We had a great time.

First, we went to the school. It consisted of one large room with desks, a big stove, and a piano. There were three smaller rooms, too. I don't know exactly what two of them were for - I'm assuming that they were for older kids to study in, but they were decorated in a way that didn't make it very obvious. One of them today houses a TV and some chairs so that people can watch a video of the history of the town. One room was clearly the teacher's quarters with a small pot-bellied stove, a single bed, a desk/table, and a wash stand:

I forgot to take a picture of the school room, but I did get one of the boys after they rang the school bell about 20 times. It's small, but LOUD. With such a small number of residents and such a tight canyon, there is no doubt that this bell could be heard by all students in the area.

Next, we visited three houses - real honest to goodness homes - with 1, 2, and 3 rooms. The 1-room home couldn't have been more than 12'x12'. Seriously. Everything was in that one room. Table, stove, bunk beds, and that's it. (We are so spoiled by space and stuff in today's world.)

Here's the 1-room house. The bunk beds are behind me as I take the picture:

Here are some photos from the other tiny homes.
This white stove was one of the first electric models ever made:

I was trying to get the butter churn in the corner hutch. We had one when I was little (actually, my sister still has it), and we honestly had to churn our own butter when we had Mandy, the milk cow. The picture on the wall (clearly from the 1940s or 1950s, doesn't fit into this room at all):

See that Singer treadle sewing machine? I have the same one (or incredibly similar) in our computer room!

I just really liked the look of this china. (I'm never a fan of fake flowers, by the way.)

Here is a photo of the post office. The woman in the photo on the wall was actually the post master for something like 55 years.

After checking out the history, we went back to the festival. We actually arrived for breakfast before we looked at the old homes. Yes, the day is so much fun that there is a breakfast, BBQ hot dogs and burgers, bingo, bands, arts/crafts, raffles, snow cones, cotton candy, and a bounce house! Not bad for a town of just 38 residents!

Here we are playing tether ball. TETHER BALL!!! I forgot how much fun this game is. (Or how much fun it is supposed to be. I usually got pegged in the face or side of the head, so it wasn't always a great time for me.) The boys had a blast:

We spent some time in the sandbox playing with Thomas, of course:

And, this tire swing was a huge hit. He had me spin him for 20 minutes, easily:

And, really, it's just a beautiful little canyon:

I would recommend Ophir Day to anyone. It's almost always the first Saturday in August. Just call me, and I'll let you know for sure because we'll be trying to go every year!

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