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Environmental History

Summer Book Club: Reflections by Jared Farmer

By September 6, 2018


Over the last ten weeks, the Juvenile Instructor’s Summer Book Club has taken readers on a guided tour through Jared Farmer’s award-winning On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Harvard UP, 2008). Jared has graciously agreed to share his reflections on the book, ten years after its initial publication.

(Posts in the series: introduction; chapter one, chapter two, chapter three, chapter four, chapter five, chapter six, chapter seven, chapter eight, chapter nine.)

 

 

“Utah, I Loved Thee”: Reflection by Jared Farmer

My gratitude to David G. and other members of Juvenile Instructor’s summer book club for their thoughtful comments about my second book, now ten years old.

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JI Summer Book Club: On Zion’s Mount, Ch. 8

By August 23, 2018


Welcome to the eighth installment in the JI’s fourth annual summer book club. This year we are reading Jared Farmer’s On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Harvard UP, 2008). Check back every Thursday  for the week’s installment. Or, you can find them here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Please follow the JI on Facebook and Twitter.

I was eight the first time I remember hiking the Timpanogos Cave National Monument. After a hike, intermittent stops for Fruit-by-the-Foot, and what seemed like an eternal wait, my family and I stepped into the dimly lit tunnel that took me into the cave. I was a little nervous that my fanny pack would bump the wall and ruin some spectacular stalactite or stalagmite, which would lead to my immediate dismissal from the Cub Scouts. Towards the end of the tour, the guide pointed to an enormous Image result for heart of timpanogosformation with a light illuminating it from behind. “This is the ‘Great Heart of Timpanogos,'” she said. She told us the legend of Utahna and sent our group back down the mountain, with me thinking about the poor princess who had been willing to give her life for her people to survive a drought.

I don’t remember hearing the story again until the summer after I read On Zion’s Mount in a Utah history course at BYU. Suddenly the Heart of Timpanogos didn’t seem so full of wonder and sacrifice, it felt like a painful reminder that the mountain was more than a tourist attraction–it was a place shaped by the interactions of indigenous people and Mormon settlers. Moreover, it was a place whose value and meaning was shaped by the nation in which it is found.

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Summer Book Club: On Zion’s Mount, Ch. 6

By August 9, 2018


Welcome to the sixth installment in the JI’s fourth annual summer book club. This year we are reading Jared Farmer’s On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Harvard UP, 2008). Check back every Thursday (sorry for the tardiness on this one) for the week’s installment. Or, you can find them here, here, here, here, here, and here. Please follow the JI on your social media of choice.

As I write this post, I am sitting in the “office” (really a bedroom with books) of a house built in 1896, the year of Utah’s statehood. Out of the window, I can see the mountains on the Wasatch Front. In the middle of Fall or the middle of Spring, these mountains out of this window would be a welcome respite from deciphering the pencil-etched chicken-scratch that fills undergraduate blue book tests. But today, my nose is buried within different pages. Can you smell words? My nose is close enough. These pages in this chapter of this book remind me that, in seeing these mountains, my gaze is fixed away from things I do not see. It takes the subtle groan of an “old” house and the feel of artificial breeze to remind me that, actually, pioneers did not have central air, and that this house is newer than it claims to be. It takes words on a page to help me understand that mountains help hide the stories that might lurk in the walls of this office. These words comprise chapter 6 of our summer book club, in which Jared Farmer makes sense of Mount Timpanogos in two twentieth-century settings—Sundance and Utah County. Or, at least, that’s what my nose tells me.

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Summer Book Club: On Zion’s Mount, Ch. 5

By July 26, 2018


This is the fifth installment in the JI’s fourth annual summer book club. This year we are reading Jared Farmer’s On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Harvard UP, 2008). Check back every Thursday for the week’s installment. Please follow the JI on your social media of choice.

In chapter 5 of his book, Farmer continues to look at the mountains, analyzing hiking and the promotion of alpine play. Hiking Mount Timpanogos became a large community event in the first half of the twentieth century. As Farmer says, “the mountain had become known for being known, loved for being loved, hiked for being hiked.” (175)

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Summer Book Club: On Zion’s Mount, chapter 4

By July 19, 2018


This is the fourth installment in the JI’s fourth annual summer book club. This year we are reading Jared Farmer’s On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Harvard UP, 2008). You can view previous installments herehere, here and here. Check back every Thursday for the week’s installment. Please follow the JI on your social media of choice.

We have in the previous few chapter reviews followed the major theme of the first section of Farmer’s book: the dominance of lakes in the minds, hearts, and stomachs of the early Mormon colonists in the eastern edge of the Great Basin. The lake was a source of fish and conflict, just as the Great Salt Lake was a center of both recreation and source of holiness, as its tributaries were used for baptism and bathing. But in the late nineteenth century, Farmer argues, the lakes of the Mormons’ valleys began to be culturally displaced by mountains.

Part of this displacement was drive by necessity: overfishing and irrigation and conflict and pollution sapped the value of the lakes. It was also abetted by culture; the fictive memory of a desert valley allowed the Saints to imagine themselves as fulfillers of Isaianic prophecy. But, for the purposes of chapter 4, the shift matters because it cleared the way for the rise of mountains in Mormon culture.

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JI Summer Book Club: On Zion’s Mount, Ch. 3

By July 12, 2018


Today’s guest post comes from Jonathan England, PhD student in American History at Arizona State University. This is the third installment in the JI’s fourth annual summer book club. This year we are reading Jared Farmer’s On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Harvard UP, 2008). You can view previous installments here, here, and here. Check back every Thursday for the week’s installment! Please follow the JI on Facebook and Twitter!

I first read On Zion’s Mount for a course on Mormon history. Years later, I was surprised to find it on the reading list for a seminar on the American West. I should not have been. The appeal of On Zion’s Mount is that it crosses so many genres including Western, religious, and environmental history. In chapter three, suitably titled “The Desertification of Zion,” Farmer recalls the rise and fall of northern Utah’s aquatic culture. This aquatic culture parallels the shift in historical narrative from an accurate depiction of the Wasatch Front as an oasis in the Great Basin to an arid wasteland.

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JI Summer Book Club: Jared Farmer’s On Zion’s Mount

By June 21, 2018


Back by popular demand, the Juvenile Instructor will be hosting its Fourth Annual Summer Book Club in 2018! This year’s book is Jared Farmer’s On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Harvard UP, 2008).[1] The selection of Farmer’s book continues our ongoing emphasis on biography. The first two years, we read and discussed Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling and then Newell and Avery’s Mormon Enigma, biographies of Mormonism’s founding couple. Last year, we read Ulrich’s A House Full of Females, a group biography of several women (and a few men) of the movement’s first generation. On Zion’s Mount is perhaps best understood as the biography of a place—Mount Timpanogos—and how it became such a prominent landmark in Utah.

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Breaking Brigham: Or, Methamphetamine and Mormon Tea

By August 26, 2013


Breaking Brigham

The original Heisenberg?

Over at the blog for The Appendix: A new journal of narrative and experimental history, Benjamin Breen has written a fascinating post on historical discoveries of illicit drugs. Capitalizing on the success of Breaking Bad‘s final season (a show centered around the dealings of a cancer-diagnosed high school chemistry teacher-turned-meth cook), Breen notes that while “the invention of Breaking Bad‘s blue meth has become the stuff of television legend” very few people “know the true origin stories of illicit drugs.”

After briefly covering “the first academic paper on cannabis” (penned in 1689 by British scientist Robert Hooke, who noted that ?there is no Cause of Fear, tho’ possibly there may be of Laughter.”), Freud’s 1884 publication extolling the virtues of cocaine, and “Albert Hoffmann?s accidental discovery of acid,” Breen turns his attention to “the strange fact that methamphetamine was actually invented in 1890s Japan.” In 1893, Nagayoshi Nagai successfully synthesized meth by “isolat[ing] the stimulant ephedrine from Ephedra sinica, a plant long used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.”  For those interested in the whole story, I recommend clicking over and reading the entire post—it really is quite fascinating. But one throwaway line caught my attention and will almost certainly interest readers here. Describing ephedrine, Breen notes that it “is a mild stimulant, notable nowadays as an ingredient in shady weight-loss supplements and as one of the few drugs permitted to Mormons.”

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Recent Comments

Chris Babits on MHA 2019: Tips and: “I was wondering if anyone would like to submit a panel on Mormonism and gender and sexuality in the 20th-century U.S. My research focuses on…”


Mary Lou on Summer Book Club: Reflections: “Jared—your book challenged both my intellect and faith. Your writing, research and scope were amazing. I think I came through this experience in one piece…”


Gary Bergera on Review: Credulity: The Cultural: “Thanks, Christina. The book sounds really interesting. I doubt I would've found it without you.”


J Stuart on Summer Book Club: Reflections: “Thanks very much, Jared. I loved re-reading your book and thinking about your reflections.”


Jeff T on Summer Book Club: Reflections: “Thanks, Jared. I read chapter 6, at least, as a real sense of loss from a possible future that respected the mountain itself ecologically. I…”


Moss on *Saints* and the Narratives: “Thanks for the review.”

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