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The City Journals

Looking Back On Holladay History

Aug 01, 2015 11:29AM ● By Carol Hendrycks

On Wednesday May 27, Holladay City Mayor Rob Dahle and the historic planning committee chair Tom Welson hosted part two of an ongoing series “Holladay History Night” at Holladay City Hall. 

The presentation showcased the early years of Holladay and the role pioneers played in shaping the landscape we enjoy today. The committee prepares all year for this in-depth presentation that featured the “Mormon Corridor” and settlements in the 1800s and early part of the 19th century recorded on DVD complete with narration, maps and original photos from that period. 

Welson said, “I enjoy history because it gives us perspective for the blessed opportunity to live in this unique area today.” He reminded the audience about the distinctive role Holladay played in helping to be a model settlement to other western homesteads by developing and implementing new irrigation systems and canals that were so far inland from any large natural waterways, relying on Immigration Creek (Parleys) and Red Butte streams, Millcreek, Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon streams to settle into the Spring Creek community and surrounding areas of Holladay. 

In addition to this onscreen presentation the audience was treated to an onstage performance from four young ladies, Mary Jane, Melody, Megan and Kara from nearby schools, dancing to “Oh! Susanna” and performing the Virginia reel. Guests were also entertained by Clive Romney and Curtis Woodbury of the Willingly Group who played their guitar and fiddle bringing songs to life of trail-blazing pioneers, early settlers and more simpler times. 

While perhaps simpler, it was also a time filled with hard work, sweat, sacrifice and where ingenuity paid off as the years progressed. Photos shown depict a time of change and transformation in our history — railways were in progress, farming was still labor intensive, new irrigation systems were being developed to bring water inland from nearby creeks and streams, horses and mules still utilized to haul goods, and mills and mercantile were finding their footings to build up economic foundations of today. 

After the presentation, guests sampled bread slices donated by the Holladay Great Harvest Bread Co.  Guests strolled through a display featuring original photos of Holladay homes, businesses and schools from the 1800s and antique artifacts used for farming and in the kitchen. 

Special guests among the attendees included Wayne Omer and his eldest son Kenneth Omer. Wayne was born November 30, 1921 and shares his love of Holladay with all who had the opportunity to meet him. He was born, raised and still lives in the same home on 4500 South in Holladay. Wayne was part of the first class to graduate from a school that is now the city hall building. Now retired, he spent most of his career as a diamond setter for custom jewelry and some time working for Litton Industries. 

Other special attendees were Don and Doone Holladay. Don is the great, great grandson of John Holladay who was a founder and the namesake of the settlement of Holladay’s Burg, Utah Territory, which became Holladay, Utah. He was an early pioneer in Colorado, Utah, and California. Doone, Don’s wife, is a long-time Holladay resident and is a member of the historic planning committee that helped to coordinate the evening’s presentation.

Welson said he is proud of the commitment from our pioneer heritage and the efforts by the committee for the educational and entertaining benefit of this evening. He expressed his appreciation to Mayor Dahle and the City Council for their support to bring the residents and guests a comprehensive look at Holladay’s humble beginnings. He reminded the crowd that part three of this series will be ready to see next May and asked that we all come back to enjoy another “Holladay History Night.”