Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » We got ’em coming and going

We got ’em coming and going

By: Ardis E. Parshall - July 28, 2008

Dave Banack’s post about Matthew Streib, the cyclist on an American Pilgrimage, reminded me that I had once heard that bicycles, not automobiles, were the impetus behind the development of decent inter-city roads in the United States. Sure enough, the ample authority of the all-wise Wikipedia confirms that the Good Roads Movement was spurred by 19th century cyclists just like Matthew Streib who needed decent roads on which to travel.

Very early in the 20th century Americans had begun their love affair with the automobile, as motorists took to the newly blacktopped roads to tour from one end of the continent to the other. The Lincoln Highway, the first great (paved) transcontinental road, passed through Salt Lake City, bringing tourists who stayed for a day or three, looking around Temple Square, visiting the Great Salt Lake, getting an eye-full of the Mormons, before continuing their travels.

Many travelers, whose goal was going somewhere, not being there, preferred to bypass the hotels and camp next to their cars. Campers needed water and convenient places to buy supplies; the cities they camped in needed not to be sickened by waste in the city waterways. These complementary needs led to the development of “auto camps” throughout the country.

In Utah, these camps sometimes were established in schoolyards, where campers could use the toilet and cooking facilities of the high schools lying idle during the summer traveling season. In other Utah cities, dedicated auto camps were set up near the highway, with toilets, a building for cooking, a grocery store, and plenty of water; eventually small cabins were built, and the auto camps evolved into the familiar motels. These amenities were announced on signs along the highway, inaugurating today’s familiar billboard clutter.

Enter the Mormons.

Salt Lake’s auto camp was established in the west part of town, in the jurisdiction of Pioneer Stake. By 1921 it had the usual amenities found in any such western camp. In earlier years stake leaders had noted the increasing thousands who spent time at the auto camp before passing along, and they realized they had an unusual service opportunity. That summer of 1921 they pitched a large tent at the camp and held church services, both on Sundays and during the week. Meetings were short and casual, and relied on music and the recitations of Sunday School children. The various ward choirs in the stake took turns providing music, and talented instrumental soloists offered their services. Stake officers provided brochures, sold copies of the Book of Mormon, and answered questions. Some 25,000 tourists were served in that first year alone.

In 1922, the project expanded, and stake members built a small chapel, open on one side to face rows of benches in the open air. And word began filtering back from missionaries in the field, that they had been welcomed into the homes of people who had stayed at Salt Lake’s auto camp and changed their opinion of the habits and character of the Mormons.

I do not know how long Pioneer Stake kept up their short-term ministry to the travelers at the auto camp; research continues.

(Auto camp missionaries, in case one of them is your grandpa: Ed H. Eardley, Jerry Hancock, Charles S. Hyde, J. Leonard Love, James H. Sullivan, Gustave B. Dreschel, Rulon J. Sperry, Frank B. Woodbury, Howard Layton, Charles H. Hyde, Sylvester Q. Cannon, Alexander Buchanan, D. Eugene Hammond)

added 30 July 2008:

Auto Park missionary corps, 1922:

Seated (front row), left to right: E.H. Eardley, Charles H. Hyde, Sylvester Q. Cannon, D. Eugene Hammond, Jerry Hancock, Alexander Buchanan.

Standing (back row), left to right: James H. Sullivan, Rulon Sperry, Howard Layton, Charles S. Hyde, Frank B. Woodbury, J. Leonard Love, Gustave B. Dreschel.



  1. And Ardis scores another ‘thing I never had supposed.’

    Comment by Edje — July 28, 2008 @ 6:49 am

  2. I wonder if that Frank B. Woodbury is an ancestor of Frank Woodbury Miller. I’ll have to ask him.

    Comment by Mark B. — July 28, 2008 @ 7:26 am

  3. In the early 1980s our stake did something like this. There was a KOA campground within our stake boundaries, and every evening stake missionaries went there to see if anybody needed anything – food, help with car trouble, maps, information about SLC, etc., and to offer information about the church.

    Comment by Mark IV — July 28, 2008 @ 7:32 am

  4. Cool, Mark IV. Anybody who ever has been stranded in a strange place, even in an airport overnight much less with hungry kids in a dead Ford at a rest stop, can appreciate what a friendly local contact would mean.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 28, 2008 @ 7:46 am

  5. Mark B. – Frank B Woodbury is my great grandfather. He was a Patriarch in the Pioneer stake. Frank Woodbury Miller Sr is my uncle and Frank Woodbury Miller Jr is my cousin. How do you know them?

    Comment by BruceC — July 28, 2008 @ 7:52 am

  6. Fascinating post (as always).

    In 1922 my great-grandmother Lucile Green and her aunt May Green (later Hinckley) visited Yellowstone Park (by train, not auto). May had served a mission in Independence, Missouri, and while they were at Yellowstone Falls, they met another returned missionary from the Central States Mission, Lester Glade, and his friends Rulon Sperry, Bill Birkenshaw, and — Ludlow. They met again at Mammoth Hot Springs later that day, then that evening at an event at Yellowstone Lodge, Lester asked Lucile for a dance. The rest, as they say, is history, and Rulon Sperry was best man at their wedding.

    For their honeymoon, they borrowed the family Dodge and took a road trip. I’ve seen and wish I had a copy of the picture of Lester and Lucile sitting on the running board of the car.

    By this time, Lucile’s sister was already married to Howard Layton. (“When Howard Layton came home from his mission, the children could stand on the stairs and look through the transom, a window over the door into the sitting room, and watch Howard kiss Leone.”)

    Howard and Leone and Lester and Lucile built homes next to each other on the East Bench, and I remember visiting Lucile there shortly before her death.

    My grandma mentions her uncle Howard Layton as being one of the best people she knew and a major influence for good in her life.

    Sylvester Q. Cannon spoke at Lucile’s grandmother’s funeral, Rulon Sperry and his brothers sang, and Charles H. Hyde dedicated the grave.

    I could keep going, but that’s probably enough.

    (It’s interesting what happens when you start dropping names? :-) )

    Comment by Researcher — July 28, 2008 @ 7:57 am

  7. Well, Researcher, it’s enough to prove yourself a mere child! My great-grandfather was born in 1844 and married in 1872, and my father was born just a few years after your great-grandparents met.

    Dang. You make me feel old.

    BruceC: Thanks for answering the question. Now I won’t have to bother Frank. He was our stake president when we moved to Brooklyn, and is our stake patriarch now. He performed my daughter’s wedding last February.

    Frank Jr. was our branch president for a while, and a client on a range of matters, and a golfing buddy before he bolted for Connecticut.

    Comment by Mark B. — July 28, 2008 @ 9:14 am

  8. One other thing: is it possible that Gustave’s surname has been misspelled somewhere along the way–probably by the Pioneer Stake folks.

    I knew a lovely young lady when I was a freshman at BYU whose surname was Drechsel. She was from Salt Lake City. I checked at, and they have no entries for Dreschel, but a whole host of entries for Drechsel, including a Gustave B. Drechsel who was married in the SL Temple in 1917. Maybe he was the man in the photograph and my young lady friend’s grandfather.

    Comment by Mark B. — July 28, 2008 @ 9:24 am

  9. This is really quite fascinating. I love the open air chapel…a bit camp-meetingesque.

    Comment by J. Stapley — July 28, 2008 @ 9:28 am

  10. […] article by Ardis E. Parshal at discusses the auto camp that sprung up on the west end of Salt Lake City, and Mormon missionary efforts there: By 1921 it […]

    Pingback by Missionaries served SLC’s municipal auto camp « Lincoln Highway News — July 28, 2008 @ 10:01 am

  11. Well, Mark B. What can I say? I guess I’m just a spring chicken.

    My maiden name traces back to my great-great-great-great grandfather, a well-known early pioneer with a very large family.

    When I was in college, a member of a bishopric who was perhaps 15 years older and shared the same last name told me that this same pioneer was his great-grandfather.

    In a family where there was 40 years difference between the oldest children and the youngest children (and polygamy wasn’t even involved, just remarriage after the first and second wives died) you can get some funny generational mismatches.

    Comment by Researcher — July 28, 2008 @ 1:38 pm

  12. I know, Researcher, of some of those odd mismatches. Recently I met a man online who is four or five years younger than I am, but who is two full generations closer to our first common ancestor.

    None of that changes the fact that you’re just a kid. :-)

    Comment by Mark B. — July 28, 2008 @ 2:14 pm

  13. I knew I am middle-aged, but I appreciate the reminder listening to the two of you. :)

    Comment by Ray — July 28, 2008 @ 3:33 pm

  14. What Edje said. :)

    Comment by m&m — July 28, 2008 @ 4:24 pm

  15. We just saw the full-time missionaries off after dinner and FHE. In the conversation, one of them asked how long I’ve been playing the piano and my husband looked at him and said, “How old are you, Elder?” After having to admit that I have been playing the piano much longer than he had been alive, it was nice to come here and read Mark B’s comment. I should print it out and put it on my mirror so I can see it when I give myself that first bleary look every morning.

    Now what this has to do with Pioneer Stake and the ministry to the weary travelers, I cannot tell. Neither can I break the pattern of smiley faces; I’ll have to leave that to someone else. :-)

    Comment by Researcher — July 28, 2008 @ 5:22 pm

  16. I could look at that same missionary and tell him that it’s been longer than his lifetime since I quit playing the violin. (Which, as I approach my dotage, I’ve begun working at again.)

    So, Researcher, here’s lookin’ at you, kid. 😉

    Comment by Mark B. — July 28, 2008 @ 8:42 pm

  17. I pointed this post out to my Mother. She recalls all the names as being early leaders in the stake. One, Ed Eardley was the Gospel Doctrine teacher in the Sixth-Seventh Ward in which she grew up. She knew him well. At the time of the photo, 1922, Frank B. Woodbury was on the stake high council. He was not called as a patriarch until 1924. It makes me wonder if the others were also on the stake high council. Ardis do you know how we would find out?

    Interstingly, my mother had never heard of this from either her grandfather or her mother, who would have been 19 at the time. It probably never occured to them to mention it. It makes me wonder what I am doing today that my grandchildren (when I get some) might be interested in that I would never think to tell them.

    Comment by BruceC — July 29, 2008 @ 9:20 am

  18. Bruce, I will check the stake reports for those years when I get a chance (nag me if I don’t report back in the next few days). My mother grew up in Pioneer Stake, too, although it didn’t occur to me until just this minute that I don’t know the ward number. Mom would have been 86 now — if your mother is anywhere near that age, ask if she knew the Taylors (daughters Bernice, Evelyn, Janice and Carole, who all went to West High 1936-48; D. Arthur Haycock was their next door neighbor on Arapahoe).

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 29, 2008 @ 9:37 am

  19. My mother started high school in 1949/50. I’ll ask her about the Taylors. My mother lived in a house that is no longer standing. Either a freeway, a hotel, or a parking lot now, I can’t recall. I don’t know the exact address. But Orchard Place, where Frank B Woodbury lived is still there, albeit no longer in the Pioneer Stake. Speaking of which, is the open air chapel or the auto camp still standing?

    Does the inscription indicate who is who? The one which looks the most like Frank B. is the second from the left. Though it is hard to tell.

    Comment by BruceC — July 29, 2008 @ 2:59 pm

  20. Bruce, I’ll doublecheck whether there’s a “from left to right” designation on the photo caption and get back to you. I also learned that my Taylors were in another ward (26th? already it escapes me) from your mother, so it’s not likely with the age and geographical distance that your mother would have known mine.

    This morning I found the address of the “Auto Camping Ground” as it was listed in the city directory was 1008 S. Main. That’s on the west side of the street, and a block south (meaning: more rural) of the original Salt Palace, and would still have been an open, grassy, park-like area in the early ’20s (the Salt Palace burned in 1910). Today the whole area is commercial, and I doubt any trace of the auto camp “chapel” could be found above blacktop level.

    I also learned that Sylvester Q. Cannon was the stake president, and that many of the other men named *were* on the high council. I didn’t see all the names, though (the records mention men when they were called, without a neat yearly summary of who was on the council). I also saw some men named as “special missionaries” — as opposed to home missionaries or those called to fields away from the intermountain west — and wondered if their assignments might not have included the auto camp. And although I saw his name only once, I did see “Dreschel” spelled that way in the 70s Quorum minutes.

    Still lots of details to track.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 29, 2008 @ 3:48 pm

  21. Thanks for following up on the spelling, Ardis. The fact that the IGI and other online family records at don’t show any people named Dreschel does make me wonder if the minutes (and the picture caption) are in error.

    Those German names can be confusing.

    Comment by Mark B. — July 29, 2008 @ 7:44 pm

  22. Mark B., the record I have could very well be in error; I’m not championing my spelling as correct, just reporting it as the only way I’ve seen it. There are a couple of other records I can check Wednesday morning — city directories, census — for more input. The placement of that “s” makes all the difference in whether the name is pronounced “Drexel” or “Dreshel,” doesn’t it?

    Also, I’ve discovered another photo of the auto park missionaries in my file, one that shows the faces better and does list the names in order of the way they’re sitting. I have only a photocopy, though; I’ll get a reproducible scan in the morning and post it so that Bruce and Researcher and Mark and anybody else who knows someone in the list can more easily pick out a recognizable face.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 29, 2008 @ 9:54 pm

  23. Thanks, Ardis. Your work is greatly appreciated. The auto camp address would have put it less than a mile from my great grandfather’s house. I had unrealistically hoped it was further out, and so possibly still there. The Pioneer Stake was so large back then. BTW, I was mistaken about his house. It has been “replaced” by a hotel. Fortunately I do have pictures.

    My mother once said that all the places of her childhood (home, school, and church) are gone, erased by urban development. Of course she doesn’t live in Utah so pictures are what she would see anyway.

    Comment by BruceC — July 30, 2008 @ 9:20 am

  24. I’ve looked for maps of the Lincoln Highway, but haven’t found any that are detailed enough to answer the question: what route did the highway take through Salt Lake City?

    It appears that the road came down Parley’s Canyon, and I assume that it left town to the west on North Temple. I would assume that the route went past the Auto Camp at 10th South and Main. Any idea how it made its way through town?

    Comment by Mark B. — July 30, 2008 @ 9:56 am

  25. Mark – Here is a 1920 map of Salt lake with an unnamed road going through town. It runs right past the auto camp.

    Comment by BruceC — July 30, 2008 @ 10:27 am

  26. Thanks BruceC. How did you find that?!

    Comment by Mark B. — July 30, 2008 @ 10:47 am

  27. Long story. A few months ago I read in one of my family biographies that the numbering of the streets in Salt Lake had changed, but the reference was so vague it didn’t say when. So I started looking for old maps of Salt Lake to see if I could find out when, and if old addresses I had were valid today. I never did find anything useful. Not even validation that it really happened. But I did find this 1920 map of Salt Lake. I liked how it looked so much, I saved it to my hard drive. When you asked the question, I suddenly remembered that I had it. From there it was easy to find the old link.

    Comment by BruceC — July 30, 2008 @ 10:58 am

  28. Wonderful, Bruce! (Somebody did write an article, or a few paragraphs in a larger article, about the changing of the street grid numbering system. I’ll look that up and either comment here or post it separately. Kinda busy today, but will get to it soon.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 30, 2008 @ 11:16 am

  29. Were the names of the Avenues also changed at some point? When I was looking up those good brothers I saw some street addresses in my family histories. When I looked them up on Zillow they did not look like the pictures I have seen of the family homes. (If you’re busy, this is just an idle question that certainly does not need an answer now.)

    Comment by Researcher — July 30, 2008 @ 2:27 pm

  30. Researcher, the Avenues at one time, very early, had other names — Fruit St. was like 2nd or 3rd Ave., somewhere in there. But I think that once the east/west streets were numbered and the north/south streets were lettered, they have remained the same (with the exception of V becoming Virginia). The reason the streets on the west end of town were renumbered by one block was to bring them into accord with the continuous streets in North Salt Lake and Bountiful, so that the same street didn’t change from, say, 3rd West to 2nd West in the middle of an intersection. That wouldn’t have affected the Avenues, which deadend at the mountains.

    If folks haven’t noticed, take a look at the new picture I added at the end of the original post.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 30, 2008 @ 2:57 pm

  31. I’ve just come across a reference to someone visiting this auto camp: A man named Willis J. Bernett published a favorable article about the Mormons and Salt Lake City in the East Side-Northeast News of Kansas City, Missouri in late 1922 or early 1923. His report begins:

    “We arrived in Salt Lake City about noon and drove directly to the tourist camp. After a good shower bath we went up town to look over the city, and a wonderful city it is.”

    I suppose being able to clean up during a road trip would dispose anybody to a more favorable impression!

    (“‘Mormons’ Given Praise in Eastern Paper,’ Millennial Star, 15 January 1925, 43)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 9, 2012 @ 10:10 am

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