The Garden at Fort Buenaventura

This article originally appeared in Vol.60 No.2 2013 issue of Pioneer Magazine

was an American fur trader and mountain man who built and occupied in what is now the city of Ogden, Utah. He is credited with being the first recorded man of European descent to live in the Weber Valley of Utah.

Goodyear had a desire to build a “halfway house” on the way to California, a place where travelers could stop, rest, and replenish their supplies. Goodyear settled at the confluence of the Weber and Ogden rivers and built a stockade. It was constructed with cottonwood logs set upright in the ground to enclose about one-half acre of land adjacent to the river. It was begun in 1845 and completed by the end of 1846. Four log cabins occupied the corners of the fort, and sheds, corrals, and a garden were also located within the enclosure. Additional corrals were located on the outside to accommodate cattle, horses, goats, and sheep.1

In late September 1845 the Independence, Missouri Western Expositor ran an article about Goodyear’s plans for a such a settlement:

“On Tuesday last, a Mountain company under the charge of Miles W. Goodyear left our place. The number with him does not exceed 6 or 8 men. His goods, which were mostly purchased in St. Louis, were taken out on pack animals—as these were considered best and safest to get along among the mountains. He trades most usually with the Snake Indians, and one or two other tribes, who are friendly to the Americans.

“During his stay on the plains he purposes building a kind of fort and cultivating a portion of ground, more as an experiment than anything else, and if possible make it a sort of half way house between this and Oregon and California, where the companies may stop and refresh themselves, and obtain supplies, for he expects to have the coming summer all kinds of vegetables, and plenty of Indian corn and wheat, which they may ground up or grind into flour and meal. It is his intention upon his return to the States in a year or two, to bring in with him all kinds of flower seed and rare shrubbery that the prairies may furnish as well as everything in the curious line of the animal, vegetable or mineral kingdom—success to him.”2

When the Mormon pioneers began arriving in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, they became aware of the Goodyear settlement north of them. Later, in a discourse at Wellsville, Utah, on June 7, 1860, Brigham Young remarked:

“A man named Welles, living with Miles Goodyear, where now is Ogden City, had [in 1847] a few beans growing, and carried water from the river in a pail to irrigate them.”3

The story of this Welles and his garden in Ogden City is written in Miles Goodyear and the Founding of Ogden by historian Dale L. Morgan. Morgan writes, as follows:

“The Saints were establishing themselves in Salt Lake Valley. By July 28 they had definitely fixed upon the site of Salt Lake City as their gathering place, but they had a large curiosity about the surrounding region, and particularly about the country north where a farm of some kind had been started. John Brown writes that on August 8 he ‘started north with a little exploring company; also in company with Capt. Jas. Brown and others who were on their way to California. At Weber River we found the fort of Mr. Goodyear, which consisted of some log buildings and corrals stockaded in with pickets. This man had a herd of cattle, horses and goats.  He had a small garden of vegetables, also a few stalks of corn, and, although it had been neglected, it looked well, which proved to us that with proper cultivation it would do well.’

“The state of the Goodyear garden was a matter of the greatest interest to the Mormon Pioneers, and it is hardly surprising that their journals should be full of information about it. One of the diaries reports that the garden included corn in tassel which had been planted June 9, that beans were ripe, carrots a foot long, cabbages, radishes, etc., looking fine. Another journal records that the American corn was shoulder high and the Spanish corn tasseling out; yet another notes that the garden was some 15 yards square.

“All this was the work of Captain Wells, of whom it is unfortunate that so little is known, for he was Utah’s first white agriculturist, and the buckets of water he poured upon his garden made him the first white man in Utah to practice irrigation.”4


1 http://www.onlineutah.com/goodyear_ mileshistory_02.shtml

2 Utah Historical Quarterly 21.3 (July 1953): 209.

3 Journal of Discourses, 8:288.

4 Utah Historical Quarterly 21.4 (October 1953): 314, 315.

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