Week 5 of AnniesDiary100 – St David’s Day on the Union Pacific #OnThisDay 1 March 1924

100 years ago this week, Annie Hughes Griffiths as leader of Wales’ Women’s Peace Petition delegation, embarked on a trans-continental ‘Peace Tour’ of the United States – boarding the Union Pacific Railroad from Chicago, for their next destination in Salt Lake City – with a stopoff to explore the Ogden Canyon at Morgan, Utah on St David’s Day 1924 itself.

Salt Lake City was the only destination on Annie’s Tour of America where a ‘welcoming committee’ of American Welsh did not turn out in force – ironically, this was because they were all engaged in their own St David’s Day celebration events at the time Annie’s train reached the Utah capital. However, as her diary records, they met with a number of key Utahn figures of Welsh connections, including the Vice Consul and State Senator; and visited the Mormon Temple / Church of Latter Day Saints.

Explore Annie’s Diary entries below from 100 years ago today, along with excerpts from the Union Pacific travellers brochure from 1923, that Annie would have used for their journey. Our next post will follow Annie onwards to San Francisco and California. 

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Annie’s Diary Pages 31-34

Page 31Page 32Page 33Page 34Page 35Page 36Page 37

Thursday Feb 28th / Friday 29th 1924

“David [Annie’s Brother] left as usual. Wrote all morning. Sent articles to S. W. Daily News, Brython Cymraeg. Packed up & left part of luggage in 4933 Dor. Ave. Had lunch at home, & at 5.30 left by car with luggage for Blackstone Hotel, where we met David, who had arranged a very rich & sumptuous dinner for us. He had also booked a compartment for us as far as Salt Lake City. We went to the Station at 7.30 & Abbie [David’s wife / Annie’s sister in law] gave us a beautiful basket of fruit, lots of nuts & sweets, & they came to see us off. We got comfortably settled in & slept in 13 compartment.”

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During the night we passed thro’ the States of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, touching a corner of Colorado at Julesburg, back to Nebraska. Crossed the Missouri River at Omaha. The country we passed thro’ today is one large tract of grazing land, with homesteads pitched at long distances from each other, & then in groups. Large herd of red cattle, & red brown hogs. Brown chickens. Artesian wells everywhere. Telephone wires everywhere. The ground a light brown colour, not a trace of green anywhere. Saw a removing of furniture on the road – 5 large carts crowded with all sorts of furniture, drawn by a pair of strong horses. Ford cars in every shape & form, clean & dirty – everywhere.

No platforms at the stations; roads run across the rails, danger signals up, but very dangerous. Low undulating hills in the distance. Elevation varying from Chicago 590 ft up, Omaha, 1033 feet, Julesburg 3467 ft., to Sherman 8013 ft: highest point on route, which we are due to reach about 10.30.p.m. Must now put writing aside for night.

Read Tale of Triona by W.J. Locke.”

Saturday Mar. 1st

Got up by 7.a.m. to see the Coal mines Rock Springs & Green River Stations which we passed bet. 7 & 8.a.m. Then on to _ by 11.a.m. & entered State of Utah. We now got to the Land of Canyons [The Canyon Lands are a desolate sandstone region of the Colorado Plateau, covering an area south-east Utah and north-east Arizona]. 

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Most wonderfully formed rocks of bright red colour. Most wonderful formation. Sphynx like in shape, formidable in appearance. See p.p.c – through a station called Morgan, quite the most well-kept station on the road. Morgan written in white stones on the station level. We saw in passing one only little churchyard adjoining a _ church right away by itself.

We were surprised that we saw so few churches & school. We reached Ogden at 1.5.pm & after putting our packages in the Left Luggage Office, we hired a car & head us to the Ogden Canyon, a distance of 11 miles. 

Our driver was an exceedingly well set up young man in knee breeches & in passing thro the town called at his garage for his overcoat & splendid crown & yellow check coat. We drove up through the ravine or pass or canyon, thro’ snow covered rocks & hills, with here & there the hot steam appearing from the hot water springs higher up. Then passed the country houses of the Ogden rich folks, who migrate to these parts as soon as the hot weather comes. 

There was one particularly well built & attractive bungalow or chalet, & a large hotel – the Hermitage Hotel. We drove as far as the Artesian Wells from whence Ogden gets her water supply & saw the water coming out in a constant flow. From there we drove on to the Fish Hatcheries – but 2 miles from there we failed to get any further as the road was impassable, on a/c of melting snows.

Back to Ogden, & we were informed that a 2nd cousin of Lloyd George lived in the town, a Miss Bradley. We paid 4½ dollars for our trip & dismissed our car.

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Feature of landscape the wonderful reds & yellow of willow trees, & greys of cottonwood tree.

Had tea at a nice Restaurant, a very good tea. We walked to station getting p.p.c.’s on route. Left Ogden by the 5.10 train – very hot & stuffy. Got to Salt Lake City soon after 6.p.m. & found that Mr. John Hughes the Depot Master was at the other station, the Rio Grande & Denver – we met a Y.W.C.A Lady Traveller’s Aid – & she telephoned to the Y.W.C.A. & we got a taxi & drove up, some distance away. When we got there my companion was dubious, but I went in, saw bedroom, & as it was quite a nice large one two beds, two windows I took it. We paid 75 cents each for room & paid in advance.

We then went out to the Utah Hotel & had some supper in the Cafetaria down below the Hotel. We walked home thro’ a Saturday night crowd, & were not much impressed with the place, had telephoned from hotel to Mr. Tom Hughes the Depot-master, but we were told he was “at large”. Went to bed immediately upon return & slept soundly until 6.a.m. next morning.

Sunday, March 2nd 1924

“Woke at 6 a.m., had bath at 7. Read several Chapters of Acts. Then dressed, and at 9 a.m. we left the Y.W.C.A. in a taxi, taking our luggage with us and putting it in the Left Luggage Office of the Union Pacific Station.

We then walked thro’ the large Depot Hall with large frescos of the arrival of Brigham Young and the Early settlers in Salt Lake City. I then tho’t I would telephone to our friend the Station Master – he came to the phone, and suggested we should go to see him – just three blocks away. So we went and in the station hall I went up to a short dapper little man of some 60 odd years – and asked him if he knew where I could find Mr Hughes.

I am the man.”

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Then he asked if we were the ladies who had telephoned him – He then asked us if we had had breakfast. We had had some fruit in our room – Abbie’s gift to us both. So we said “No – he then took us to the station buffet where we sat on high stools. Had grapefruit, bacon and griddle cakes too. He insisted upon paying for them.

He then went and phoned to some Welsh people. Mr James the British Vice Consul [John James born Haverfordwest; a Mormon who wrote for ‘the Druid’ periodical] and a Mr Low, Mr Williams a State Senator. I was then called to the phone and had a talk with Mr James who told me we ought to have been at the St David’s Day Celebrations the previous evening and how much he wanted to see us, & also how we ought to tell our message to the women of Utah. He then spoke to Mr Hughes.

Eventually it was arranged that we two were to go as far as the Mormon Temple grounds, sign our name in the visitors’ book and wait until the two Welshmen, James and Williams arrived. We took a car as far as the Temple and looked round it. Soon Mr Williams a Welshman from Brechfa Carmarthenshire, the State Senator, arrived with his wife and son, in a fine motorcar. We were standing in the grounds when I saw him. I went up to him and said “Mr Williams”. He said yes. Then he took us to his wife and she said ‘when my husband spoke to you I thought you must be some Salt Lake City acquaintances of his, you looked so American!’

We then went to the Tabernacle, we sat there and heard the great organ played, and a discourse given upon Mormons here by a young lawyer whose mother is Welsh. We had to leave before we said, as Mr James wanted us to see some of the city.

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We were photographed outside the [Mormon] Temple in the wonderful sunlight and then made our way to the motorcar, the automobile. I had to tell the W.O.W. story to Mr James, and we went as far as the University on the hill where one had a most splendid view of the city beneath the clearly cut snow clad mountains, like white icing so smooth and straight in appearance – a fine mist rising from the Lake in the distance was a most impressive picture. From there we went to Mr Williams home 1401 Sigsbee Avenue. A very nice home – where we had a very welcome cup of tea – we then got into the car and drove past and round the Capitol. The highest point of the city – another fine building. Down to the town under the Eagle Bridge. The old toll gate of the city and to the Station –

Getting our luggage out. We got on to the rails – there are no platforms in America. I got our luggage on board – then we were photographed, alone, and in a group and we started off at 12.55 for San Francisco.

Mr John James, British Vice-Consul, a native of Swansea, born in Haverfordwest, his father being Police Constable living in the Castle, has married an English American lady who was Welsh by adoption – had four children – a very pleasant kind man, who was a keen patriot and who was so very regretful that we had not been at the St David’s Day celebration last evening. He writes for The Druid and had a long story to tell of our visit.

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He said how very disappointed the Salt Lake City Welsh people were because Mr Lloyd George had not been able to go as far as S.L. City. We felt very grateful to Mr Tom Hughes who is a cousin of Mr John Hughes, Rhodesia Road for introducing us to the kind friends who added so much to our pleasure during the few hours we spent in S.L. City. I asked Mr Hughes why they had railroads across the streets and no fences along the lines. “As I figure it out, he said, I guess it is cheaper to pay for killing a calf or a ram than to pay for putting up fences.”

Mr James, who is of the Mormon persuasion, asked us to say at home that the reputation the Mormons have in England is not deserved, and that they were a good living people.

Leaving there in good spirits we soon reached Ogden where we were hitched on to the Chicago train – for San Francisco. Crossing the Lake by rail – 30 miles of viaduct, a most wonderful achievement – we had beautiful views of the snow clad mountains around S.L. City – and for a long time they stood out in the landscape as the outstanding feature. After crossing the lake we passed through miles and miles of sandy desert. Yellow sand everywhere with tufts of scrubby growth and a plant in appearance like tamarisk – we have just had Dinner on the train and the beds are being prepared for night, our first experience of a Pullman car, pure and simple.

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