Paradise Guard Station

According to the Roosevelt Standard newspaper, “Paradise Park received its name in 1906 or 1907 when Bill Caldwell, a sheepman in the Dry Fork drainage, became lost in a snow storm. Mr. Caldwell wandered for two days and finally came upon the camp of Ellis J. Ellis. Bill said, ‘it sure looked like Paradise to me’ and the name stuck.”

The guard station was built in 1922. One story we cannot verify is the district ranger constructed the buildings in his spare time. They have changed little since they were built. The cement porch was put in 1978. Mike Bergfeld, district recreation forester, still vividly recalls the long 14 hour day when the porch was poured as they had to build a wood form and mix the concrete in wheelbarrows.

Darrell Johnson, district silviculturalist, remembers staying in the guard station during the mid 1960’s. They would stay in the station during the week while they burned slash – the left over limbs and wood from logging operations.

The slash had been machine piled into long windrows. We would usually wait for the first snow and hope it wouldn’t snow more than what we wanted. The best conditions to burn were as hard snow was just beginning. We used propane torches to get the windrow fires started. They would be hard to start if it rained before the first snow came or if we were late and the snow had a chance to melt and get the slash wet before we started. The windrows were hundreds of feet long and ten to fifteen feet high so when the fires did get going they burned tremendously hot. Once we started we hated to stop and would get a lot done in a day. When we got back to the guard station in the evening, we would be tired… cold… wet… and very hungry. We would take turns cooking a big supper (steaks, or a lot of times stew) and would play cards until late.

Bartlett Sawmill*

In 1929 the Bartlett Sawmill was moved to Paradise Park. The sawmill was located approximately 75 yards south of the guard station. The Bartletts built a large three-story building to house the operation. They also purchased a boiler from a dredge operation that had been working on the Green River. Moving the equipment to Paradise Park was a considerable challenge. The steam engine was almost completely dismantled and hauled in iron-tired wagons to the sawmill site. The boiler was more difficult to move. It was 25 feet long, eight feet in diameter and weighed 6 tons. A truck was hired to haul the boiler, but 12 miles from the sawmill they encountered snow on the road and the driver did not feel he could drive safely any further. It took two days using a team of four horses and sleighs to move the boiler the remaining distance. The most difficult part was maneuvering the boiler around turns, as it would roll off the road.

A rather large complex built up around the sawmill. At the time it was the largest lumber operation in the Uintah Basin. Cabins were built near the mill for the family and workers. In addition to three cabins and a large storage shed, two good-sized stables and a large corral were made for the animals. Two underground cellars were built for storage of potatoes, carrots and onions. Can you find remains of any of these buildings today?

The Bartletts felt it was important for their families be together for the summer. The children would spend the summer a the mill and return to school in the fall. The men would work through the fall and into the winter at the mill. The family has many fond memories of the summers in the forest.

The sawdust pile was the setting for many marshmallow roasts and ghost story-telling pastimes. There were rides on the lumber car and ‘hide and seek’ or ‘run sheep run’ games. During the evening, the early twilight or dusk hours, the sawmill afforded many excellent hiding places for these activities.

The ‘monkey pole’ was a memorable, sometimes recreational, facility. The monkey pole was a length of 1-1/2 inch metal pipe, secured firmly at the roof of the second floor and extended to the bottom of the first or ground floor. To get from the second floor to the boiler room quickly, one simply had to grasp the pipe and slide downward. After working hours, sliding down the monkey pole was a great attraction for active youth who were visiting the facilities. The Bartlett children developed many varieties of descending antics, such as ‘one hand and one leg,’ ‘two hands, no legs,’ ‘one hand or two hands and one toe,’ ‘legs only,’ ‘head first,’ etc. most of which mothers disapproved. The real test of one’s strength and talent was to climb up the monkey pole feet first.

The children also built small houses and villages from scrap wood and even a large clubhouse.

The family loved to make ice cream in a “Montgomery Ward 6-quart, hand operated” freezer. A snowdrift always formed on the north side of the sawmill and if it had been buried under shavings some snow could be encouraged to last into the summer. Sometimes ice was taken from Ice Cave, a few miles west of the mill, to help freeze the ice cream custard. Usually vanilla or maple was used to flavor the treat. However, sometimes the milk cows would eat garlic while grazing and this would flavor the ice cream, milk, butter or cream with garlic. “The smell of garlic in milk, butter, and cream readily turns off the appetite.” “The remedy, however, was simple; the consumer ate a piece of onion, and he became oblivious to the garlic.”

In June 1940 the men were at the sawmill preparing for the upcoming season. During the lunch break a fire started on the east side of the mill. Although the company truck was saved nothing could be done for the mill. A huge fired developed and for some anxious moments there was concern the huge boiler would explode, but a safely release worked properly. “As the fire roared on, pieces of timber the size of a man’s leg were carried by the heated air currents 40 to 50 yards upward toward the ranger’s cabin and into the edge of the timber north of the mill houses.” After two days the fire was finally put out.

The Bartletts had no insurance and fifteen years of accumulated assets were destroyed. “For Owen, 42 years of age, with a wife, seven children under sixteen, a father and mother in their sixties (for whom he felt financial responsibility), this was a devastating financial tragedy. As he told Mabel (his wife), ‘There I stood, with my hands—empty—all of the equipment, tools, and lumber ready for sale, going up in smoke. I could only be grateful no one was injured.’”

“Tridell and the surrounding communities were affected by the loss of the Bartlett sawmill as it was the principal supplier of lumber for homes, churches, schools, commercial and farm buildings, and bridges.” Although the Bartletts were not able to completely recover from the sawmill fire, they were not in debt and were able to rebuild. However, the Paradise Park operation was not rebuilt.

Even after fifty years, the older children could point out exactly where the steam engine was mounted, where the barrel hole was that stored water for cooling around the boiler, where the saw jack stood, and where the blacksmith shop was located. Much of the Paradise Park activity was permanently terminated, though the ‘boiling’ spring where ice-cold, fresh water bubbled the sand in the bottom still continued to bubble. Though the family no longer has mill rights in the Paradise Park area, they hold many fond memories safely and securely within their hearts.

Can you find evidence of this one thriving enterprise or the spring?

*Excerpts taken from the Bartlett Family History.