Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How American Fork became Cavemen!

The Mighty, Mighty Cavemen!
"Dear old A.F. High,
We will love you 'til we die.
Your banners bright,
Of red and white,
Will be a beacon thru' the night..." 
American Fork High School Song

I've been thinking about my hometown lately...probably because of the Hometown Tag Swap sponsored by Tammy of Tammy's in Love.

Me shaking my Cavette Pep Club pompoms...
probably why the picture is so blurry!

As in many small towns across the country,  a lot of our civic identity can be tied up in the local high school mascot and logo. The logo above is the current one for American Fork High School.  We are the Cavemen!  We have always been very proud of being Cavemen...looking down our noses at the lowly Lehi Pioneers or the Pleasant Grove Vikings.  I have always been big on school spirit.  Like the Beach Boys sang, "Be True to Your School." That song used to make me cry.   You may be wondering...how did American Fork become Cavemen?  Well...I'll tell you. 

Timpanogos Cave...
Located just ten minutes from my current home in Highland, Timpanogos Cave is a major tourist attraction.  American Fork Canyon is one of my favorite places on earth...it is so beautiful and filled with history...stories of pioneers, miners and Indians.  The discovery of the cave has always been a story that fascinated me. 

Martin Hansen
The following information is from the Timpanogos Cave website:  Martin Hansen was born in Denmark.  He settled in American Fork in 1861 after coming to Utah with the Mormon pioneers.  He was a teamster and logger in American Fork Canyon, and as the demand for lumber and firewood increased, Hansen had to hike higher up the steep slopes to reach ideal timber.  According to family records, Hansen ended his working day in October 1887 high along the canyon wall, setting his ax down against a tree and heading home.  The next day, he returned to collect his ax and noticed mountain lion tracks in the freshly fallen snow.  Taking his ax, he followed the tracks to the entrance of a cave, exploring only as far as daylight allowed.

He returned to explore the cave, now known as Hansen Cave...there are three caves in the system...several times along with his children and others.  With assistance from family and friends, Hansen built a rudimentary trail nearly straight up the cliff with log "tree ladders" and placed a door over the cave entrance.   
Some visitors to Hanson Cave...
Tours no longer visit this cave...it was stripped of its decorations
by an unscrupulous mining company...destoying its beauty forever.

Hansen gave tours of the cave for a small fee from 1888 to 1891, ceasing when tours became unprofitable.  He and his wife Mary had nine children, and following in the family tradition, son George Heber Hansen and grandson Wayne Hansen discovered Middle Cave together in the Timpanogos Cave System.  To read more of the history go to this NPS site, Timpanogos Cave.

Old Postcards...

30 tiny postcards...about 2" by 3"
I found this packet of postcards in a box of Yellowstone souvenirs...I don't even remember when I bought it.  The postcards are from the 1920s, but the picture of American Fork looks older than that.

The mountain in the background is Timpanogos.
The caves aren't even in that mountain.
The valley in the distance is Highland.
The caves are high on the canyon wall.

The famous Heart of Timpanogos.
Many legends have been created around this 4000 lb. speleothem.

Some of the lovely lacy decorations.

The straw-like formations are called helictites...hollow stone tubes.
The caves are always 46 degrees with 100% humidity.

Civic Pride...
'We claim this cave in the name of all American Fork Citizens!'
(Highland is actually much closer to the caves than A.F.)

Timpanogos Caves Today...
The visitor's center is only a mile or two from the mouth of the canyon.

Vintage picture of visitor's center

The trail is 1.5 miles in length with a 1092 ft. gain in elevation.
The path is paved with lots of resting places along the way.

I love the little tunnels on the trail!

Almost to the top...
The restroom is a welcome sight! 

Your Ranger is waiting to guide you through the caves.

This is my junior high school principal, Arlo Shelley, leading a tour.
I found this pic by happy coincidence online...lol!

And that...boys and girls...was how American Forker's became Cavemen!
I'd remind you to tip your guide...but I'm pretty sure the Park Service frowns upon it.

Please add this to your Vintage Vacation Itinerary!


Chenille Cottage said...

Another wonderful eposide...from a terrific historian! I enjoyed this post so much. What treasures our nation holds within it's borders. Your photos are incredible and your post cards from Yellowstone are so rich in vintage history. I can't imagine traveling that windy road...ughhh!
Thanks for sharing, Shirley.
Carolynn xo

Tammy's in Love said...

The whole post is cool and you provided us with another stellar history lesson! Your principal tho'! What a find!

vintage grey said...

Thanks for such a neat history!! Your kids and grandkids must love hearing your stories and all the history!! Thank you for sharing it with us!! How fun to find a pic of your principal giving a tour!! Have a lovely night!! xo Heather

Pollyanna said...

Yep, Timanogos Cave was such a big deal when I was a kid growing up in Bountiful. I hiked it as a child, though I don't recall why. I remember shivering at the tale of the Indian Maiden. I also was a parent volunteer for several hikes when my kids were growing up with school classes in Orem!! Such a lovely Utah tradition, thanks for bringing back those memories.

LBP said...

I love these mini "trips" you have taken me on this summer!!! Cute photo of you and your pom-poms! Go Cavemen!



Jann Olson said...

Shirley, I love this post. I am your rival Viking. lol! I know the words to your school song because I am married to a caveman. My hubby is Greg Olson. Alot of people called him Shultz. He had an older brother, Brian and a younger one named, David. Wonder if you knew any of them. A.F. and P.G. were always big rivals. I remember when someone burned an A into the lawn by the P.G. football field. And then one year they changed the G mountain to an A. Do you remember either of those? I had children that graduated from A.F. So I can no longer be a rival. Love both A.F. and P.G. The blue and white hold me just a little more tight. lol! Great history of the cave. I love hiking to it. Haven't been for a couple years. Need to go again. I've heard the name Arlo Sheeley from hubs. Sorry, I've been rambling.