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Tooele, Utah, May 2005
Spencer Stirling

My Memorial Days plans were stifled, so I decided to take some time in some places a little closer to home. My family decided to take a little drive around the Oquirrh Mountains - these are the smaller mountains that define the western edge of the Salt Lake Valley.

The Great Salt Lake is on the way, so we took a little stop. Here is a picture of the Kennecott smelter - this is the most advanced smelter in the world, and it extracts the metal from the concentrated ore which originates 17 miles away in the open pit Bingham Canyon Mine.

Incidentally, the (flotation concentrated) ore is pumped to the smelter as a slush. Since the ore is mainly composed of a mineral containing copper, iron, and sulphur chemically combined, the copper can be extracted by oxidizing the iron and sulphur. I think that this is interesting since the furnaces are virtually self-heated - effectively "burning" the iron and sulphur to extract the copper. They even manage to extract some of the heat energy for a small power plant which runs the operations out there. The sulphur dioxide, instead of being vented to the atmosphere through this giant stack, is catalytically combined with water to produce sulphuric acid for sale.

There was once a very nice Russian-influenced resort named Saltair out on the Great Salt Lake - it was actually rather nice architecturally. I think that it flooded and burned, and the original structure was replaced with this feeble attempt. The maintenance is practically non-existent, but I must admit that I have seen many good concerts at this venue (its only purpose now). Really a shame, since it is actually pretty out there:

This is the view of the Great Salt Lake - the smell of brine was so strong that it reminded me of the sulphur pools in Yellowstone.

Another view:

Around the point of the mountain we drove out to Grantsville and had lunch. Looping back a bit, we came across the early grist mill owned by Ezra Taft Benson - an early pioneer and Mormon church apostle (also the ancestor of the late church leader of the same name). I'm not a "churchy" guy, but it is impressive how the early pioneers managed to carve out a civilization from the wilderness. They were some tough folks, and most certainly they were skilled and industrious artisans.

Here is a picture of my sister Sonja and her two kids in front of the mill. The colors are nice and bright...

This room was the main pulley chamber where all of the machines were connected to the main shaft. My dad and brother Trent pose here. I thought that it was particularly interesting that most of the parts (including the gear teeth) were wood for 2 reasons: first, there was very little metal brought from the East, and second, sparks from grinding metal teeth would have exploded the flour mill (this is also why lamplight was forbidden - making necessary the plethora of windows on every floor in the mill).

Incidentally, the mill reminded me of the quaint industrial works of the windmills in Holland. My mom spoke aloud my thoughts, thus it must be true.

A few days later my friend from high school, Kevin (please call him Kev-dog), volunteered to join me in the canyons for a hike. We spent several hours up in Millcreek just taking a short hike. The temperature was nice and cool, but the clouds didn't allow for good pictures. Nevertheless, I caught a couple of decent shots.

I found this grizzly bear along the way. He seemed dangerous so I decided to let him lead:

Nevertheless, last time I checked old Kevin is still available, although he warns that it may require a cattle prod to keep him in line. He's pretty rough, and I can only hope that he stays in contact when he finally snaps and becomes a survivalist.

Millcreek, although not as rugged as the other canyons, is really a beautiful canyon - let's hope that it remains protected from those criminals who insist on building their ugly mansions up in my mountains!!!

Here is a nice view of the Wasatch front from my Aunt Lorraine's house.

Unfortunately I received a bit of bad news on this visit home. My cat had a large growth removed - which seemed to damage my pocketbook more than the cat (she's still feisty for the moment). Unfortunately the growth was a tumor, hence this is likely the last time that I will see her. Yeah, I know that you don't care, but this siamese has been my good friend for 9 years.

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