Three Salt Lake secrets revealed

By By Arthur Raymond

By Arthur Raymond

Gilgal Sculpture Garden

Hidden next to the Wonder Bread facility on 500 South — and smelling faintly of burnt toast — is an oasis of one man’s artistic vision expressed in stone.

The Gilgal Sculpture Garden is the work of Thomas Battersby Child Jr., a Salt Lake City stonemason and one-time bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Child was aided in the creation of some of the pieces in the garden by Utah sculptor Maurice Brooks.

The garden, originally a backyard storage area of Child’s residence, was created between 1945 and 1963 (the year Child died) and features 12 sculptures and more than 70 stones engraved with a variety of religious texts, literary excerpts and poetry.

On a recent visit to the garden, U graduate Sarah McNamee said it is a place of “quirky tranquility.”

Featured pieces in the garden include an enormous sphinx with the face of Joseph Smith and a sculpted self-portrait of Child (in pants of brick) titled, “The Monument to the Trade.”

The park is maintained by the non-profit group Friends of Gilgal Garden, with volunteer upkeep provided, in part, by the Utah Master Gardeners.

Allen Park

A curious grove of trees, squawking birds and shacks is nestled across 1300 East from Westminster College.

Local media have explored the lore of this little enclave, which includes stories of vegetable-chucking little people and mysterious late-night activities.

Known to Salt Lake residents as “Hobbitville,” this neighborhood, which straddles Emigration Creek, is officially Allen Park, and is also officially private property.

In the center of this area is property owned by Ruth Price, whose family started a bird sanctuary there in the 1920s. Birds continue to be a part of the landscape, with signs warning visitors not to enter with their pets, even pets in cars.

The cabins and small buildings that dot this area have contributed to the legend that the area was once a community for little people, though — as with most legends — the truth is much less interesting.

The small structures are actually shelters for the birds on the property.

Artesian Well Park

A watering hole used by early Utah pioneers is still slaking the thirst of Salt Lake residents who know about Artesian Well Park, located on the southwest corner of 800 South and 500 East.

The little corner park has spouts designed to fill small and large containers with drinkable water and is open to the public.

Salt Lake City Parks Division Director Val Pope said the artesian-fed water source was used by pioneers “on their way to town” and is part of an aquifer that runs roughly parallel to 500 East.

Pope said the well was on private property, but accessible to the public until the late 1970s, when it was purchased by the city and turned into a “mini-park.”

Florence Reynolds, Salt Lake City Water Quality and Treatment administrator, said the well is tested weekly for contaminants.

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Tyler Cobb

Gilgal Gardens on 749 East 500 South contains 12 sculptures made between 1945 and 1963.