Special Collections

  • oremhebercrash1918oct4

    Found in: Cannon, Kenneth L., II. (1987) PROVO & OREM: A VERY ELLIGIBLE PLACE: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY. Windsor Publications. 

    If you search "train wrecks 1918” online, you'll discover that 1918 was a terrible time to be on a train in the US. But did you know that Provo also had a train wreck that year? It's not easily discoverable on the web, but with a little investigation you can find the whole story (and some more besides) by taking a dive into our special collections. 

    In 1918, the OREM INTERURBAN was the train line that ran between Salt Lake City and Payson, running through Center Street Provo. There was also another train line that passed through Provo, known as the HEBER CREEPER (and a part of that train line still runs today).

    ETHEL TREGEAGLE recounts her memory of a crash in our oral histories, which happened right outside her house--"The Heber train always went by. I don't know what year it was but the Orem train that went across Center Street to go to Salt Lake wrecked... I was five years old. That was about 1917 or 1918. The war was on then."

    Our oral histories also include another eye-witness to the crash. KARL MILLER recounts the events of the wreck and how it came about, where he narrates his take on why the crash happened and lets us know a few other details. He includes the name of one of the engineers and narrows down the date--a "conference weekend" in 1918. What was especially interesting was that both Ethel and Karl mention a photo of the crash, so I decided to try and hunt that down, too.

    Luckily, we have a fantastic INDEX OF HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHS that list the photographs we have in our special collections, so I was able to search that and find the famous photo of the Orem and Heber Creeper crash, which occurred on October 4th, 1918. 

    There are more articles about the OREM INTERURBAN, the famous crash, and how the people of Provo lived back in the day with railroads on Center Street in TALES OF UTAH VALLEY VOLUME I. According to the book, Ethel Tregeagle herself can be found in this photograph behind the man in the upper right-hand side of the photo as one of the young girls looking at the wreckage. Can you spot her?

    What will you find out by exploring our special collections?

  •  Utah History

    Here at the library, our Special Collections contains many things: old city records and Provo High year books, old maps and historical artifacts, and biographies and compiled records detailing Provo and Utah’s history. Now if we take a look back into history, back when Utah was only a territory or had barely become a state, it was a very different kind of place. Utah was a dangerous place, and the men who tried to profit on that danger would go on to make the roads and train rails, places of relatively safety, some of the most dangerous places in the West. Here is a list of four books that outline some of the Special Collections more adventurous books. 

    THE LAST OF THE BANDIT RAIDERS
    By Murray E. King
    (2000) 

    This book follows the life of Matt Warner, an Old West bandit that often ran in the crew of Butch Cassidy, and Tom & Bill McCarty. After being caught in 1900, he turned away from the bandit life and became a law-abiding citizen. But his bandit days would give him the experience to become the lawman for Carbon County, serving as sheriff, justice of the peace, detective, and night policeman during his life time. 

    To illustrate the type of man Matt Warner was, here’s a story. When he was 91 and working as a night policeman, he shot a gun right out of the hand of a criminal he was arresting. The criminal would later say that Warner’s gun had apparently appeared out of thin air. Warner, at 91, was just that fast. 

     

    UTAH BANDITS, BUSHWACKERS, OUTLAWS, CROOKS, DEVILS, GHOSTS & DESPERADOS!
    By Carole Marsh
    (1990) 

    This book is a collection of short stories, things you’d hear around the dinner table or around a campfire, that catalogs and records a number of experiences from people like Butch Cassidy. In the introduction to the book, the author wrote that “history is what really happened, not just what got recorded in the history books.” So this small collection was Marsh’s way of supplementing and calling out the bias of traditional textbooks. 

     

    THE OUTLAW TRAIL: A HISTORY OF BUTCH CASSIDY AND HIS WILD BUNCH
    By Charles Kelly
    (1959)

    Charles Kelly collected stories from “old timers who personally knew the outlaws” and other sources in an attempt to put together the most accurate history of Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch. Kelly covers all of the Wild Bunch’s early years of bank robberies, the gang’s use of a hole in the side of canyon, and some of Cassidy’s copycats like Gunplay Max who was arrested after robbing a bank in Provo, failing miserably to copy Cassidy and the Wild Bunch’s success. 

     

    These are just three, among others, of the books in our Special Collections that detail the Wild West roots of Utah. Come into the library and ask the reference desk about our Special Collections to find more historical records, artifacts, and books about the history of the Provo area.