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Sunday, March 10, 2024

This is the Place VI: Somethin’s Fishy about Saltair

 Previously: The Mystery of the Madeleine

There are some big problems with the "official" story of Utah's Saltair Resort, and this week I will be posing the question:

Was Saltair built by some prior civilization (and still standing) when Brigham Young and the first pioneers arrived in Salt Lake Valley by horse and wagon?

All I ask is that you read to the end before deciding the matter for yourself. And with that, welcome to part 6. 

As a reminder, there is a PDF button on the top left of the blog so that you can read my posts on your ipad or tablet. Also, scroll to the end of this post for a bonus addendum on a corrupt Mormon businessman who ran the Saltair and a host of other enterprises for LDS Inc. 

For now, let’s take a look at Saltair’s ridiculous construction narrative.

The Four Month Miracle  

According to our historical narrative the last decade of the 19th century was one of the richest architectural eras the world has ever seen. From the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, to the building of massive amusement parks such as New York's Coney Island Dreamland, America experienced leaps in technology and neoclassical construction - or so the story goes anyway...

Even from its nestled location deep within the Wasatch corridor, Salt Lake City was not exempt from this supposed building bonanza, giving birth to such architectural icons as the Salt Lake City and County Building, and the one and only Saltair Pavilion Resort, both finished, they tell us, within a year of each other.

We are told that the Saltair began as a vision by LDS Church leaders and local businessmen in 1891 to become the "Coney Island of the West," inspiring polygamist Apostle Abraham Cannon (son of George Q. Cannon) to express in his journal an excitement for this Mormon "business venture."

The 1890s were a tough decade for the Church. Still reeling from massive financial losses resulting from the 1887 Edmunds-Tucker Act which dissolved its corporate status, the LDS Church would construct a railroad to span 18 miles from the city to the Great Salt Lake shore. The official story of the Saltair is that Church leaders wanted to invest in a "recreation area" which would provide jobs for lay members.

In 1893, a major U.S. recession hit, but construction on the Moorish Revival style pavilion commenced in February (winter) of 1893. We are told that the resort was completely finished and fully open for business (drawing thousands of daily visitors) a week after Memorial day (May) of that same year.

As we examine the rest of the official story about Saltair look for and think about things that just don't fit. Remember, there were no power tools at the time. 

We are told that in under four months, in the winter of 1893, during a major recession, Utah pioneers cut, logged and transported via horse and wagon (over dirt roads in some unknown forest) to Salt Lake City more than 2,500 non-tapered lodge pole pine trees the size of telephone poles.

Then they unloaded them from horse drawn transport wagons onto train cars on the newly built rail line 18 miles out to the shore and unloaded those 2,500 trees onto a flat boat floating in no less than 5 feet of water. We are told, and expected to believe that they used two steam driven "diggers" on the flatboats to dig 2,500 perfectly spaced holes down 14 feet into the lake bottom sediment, and then the multi-ton log poles were somehow picked up vertically and lowered down into the holes, then precisely stabilized and leveled by hand. From moving boats. In the winter. These log piles were so secure and stable that they were able to build a pavilion the size of four New York City blocks spanning 1200 feet long, 355 feet at its widest, and 100 feet at its tallest, complete with public boardwalks and tracks for a train. 

Oh what those amazing pioneers could do in 1893, in the winter, during a recession, with horses and wagons, without power tools, and in less than 4 months.

As you seeing the picture yet?

Visitors from all over the world came to Utah between the years of 1893 to 1925 to soak in America's own "Dead Sea," and enjoy the health benefits of a true mineral bath. 

The LDS owners would eventually add a bicycle racing track, a restaurant, a massive roller coaster, and several hundred bathhouses, making this amusement and bathing park the largest in the West. Even Teddy Roosevelt made a visit to the Great Saltair, along with many other celebrities during the first few decades of the 20th century.

The Salt Lake Railroad laid the tracks out over the water and built a train station on piles as shown below:

  And here we see the massive roller coaster:

Here, inside the domed pavilion, was a stage with seating for 3,000 people and the largest dancefloor in the world at the time. The Saltair employed two full-time bands, and one of them was always playing. Remember, all these curved steel support beams and trusses which can be seen in this 100 ft. tall dome building were installed without power tools or electric/hydraulic cranes to lift them into place - only block and tackle and ladder technology. In less than 4 months, after all the log piles were driven and all the foundation board was laid.

And here is the Hippodrome where they showed movies, sold concessions, and held bicycle races:

And here we see the massive boardwalk leading down the pier to the pavilion with hundreds of thousands of square feet of perfectly logged, transported, milled and finished boards:

This resort was a big deal, and it truly put Salt Lake on the map as a major attraction, until of course it "burned down" in 1925. 

Along with the typical anomalies we find in the construction narratives of old-world buildings, the history of the Saltair also reveals the modus operandi of how the LDS Church uses its purchasing power to dominate business and industry, even in or especially in a recession.

The financial angle of the ChurchTm may be somewhat of a detour from the topic of the Old World Saltair Resort, but I found it too interesting not to reveal. 

The Curious Case of Mathew White

The beach that the Saltair was "constructed" on was owned by a man named Mathew White. As the story goes, it had originally been his dream to build a subdivision on the edge of the lake, a development he planned on naming the Saltair Beach. 

White owned 744 acres of beachfront property, but needed investors to help develop the land. According to an old survey map drawn by engineer Robert Gorlinski, there were existing buildings on White's land, but we are not given any details about them. 

I wonder what these buildings were and how they were built without a railway leading to the lake? This begs the question: was the Saltair pavilion indeed founded by Mormon pioneers and simply renovated later? 

We are told that White had originally purchased the property from James Jack (secretary of the LDS First Presidency), G.H. Snell (founder of the Inland Salt Company), and Nephi W. Clayton, the son of Mormon pioneer William Clayton, who had acted at times as a scribe for Joseph Smith. Many of us know him as the man who falsely claimed that he received D&C Section 132 directly under Joseph's dictation.

Ironically, White approached the same men whom he had purchased the property from and it was decided that they would enter a new partnership and create a business called the Saltair Beach Company. The arrangement allowed White to sell the land back to the Church but still remain a stockholder on the Saltair investment.

This part of the story is very strange. It appears that the Church itself was the original owner of Saltair Beach, and these men representing the financial interests of the Church, i.e., Snell, Clayton, and Jack, sought out Mathew White and sold him the property in 1888, just to buy it back in 1889.

Something smells fishy here.

I learned about all of this in an obscure master's thesis written by S. Todd Shoemaker, published by the University of Utah in 1983.

The title of the book is Saltair and the Mormon Church, 1893-1906.

Shoemaker searched through Salt Lake county records and found the deeds conveying the property to each of these men in 1888, as well as Mathew White's deed in 1889.

According to the narrative, it was supposed to have been White's idea to build a resort on the beach, but Shoemaker discovered a major anomaly in this story in the obituary of G.H. Snell, who suddenly died in 1896 from "throat and liver problems" at the young age of 49.

The Deseret News announced in the obituary that it had been Snell who had concocted the vision for the Saltair resort in 1888, before the land was sold to Mathew White. In light of this discovery, Shoemaker asks the following question:
Why is it that these three men--Snell, Jack, and Clayton--and even J.E. Langford, a future manager of Saltair, first own the property, sell it to White, have White create his grandiose plans, and then the three, as part of the Saltair Beach Company, buy it back again and include White, a nonmember [of the Church], as a major stockholder and director of the company? Was it planned this way and G.H. Snell knew all along, including White, that when Snell sold the land eventually a corporation would be established, or did the three see what economic possibilities White's plan afforded and pressure him to sell it back? (p. 48)

Whatever the reasons for involving Mathew White in Church business, as we shall see, he wasn't involved in the company for long. And as for G.H. Snell and his mysterious death, perhaps he had become a liability for the Church, because as Shoemaker observes, "He [Snell] traveled extensively worldwide and became a capable newspaper correspondent, presumably for local Salt Lake Newspapers."

Perhaps the Church was worried that Snell would speak too openly about the what was happening at Saltair behind the scenes. To me, when I hear someone dies of "liver" problems at age 49, I think poison. It has been theorized by some that Church leaders have used poison before to remove a potential rival to Brigham Young. His name was Samuel Smith, and he died under the care of Hosea Stout only one month after his brothers were murdered. 

Ironically, it was William Clayton who had heard Joseph say that if something happened to him and Hyrum, Samuel would take their place. 

I wonder if Nephi Clayton was also an informant on G.H. Snell?    

Regardless, Mathew White was the only nonmember stockholder on the board of directors, which, as we shall see, did not bode well for him.

He sold the land to the Saltair Beach Company for $125,000, which was $25,000 more than he paid for it, but was only able to collect a partial payment before things began to go awry.

As it turns out, Nephi Clayton was just as dishonest as his father William, and appears to have orchestrated a plan to push White out of the company and swindle him out of his shares, as well as his land.

They literally took everything from him.  

In the Fall of 1891, the board of directors organized the Saltair Beach Company with White elected as the manager and Nephi Clayton as the secretary. A few months later Nephi would strategically resign and Joseph F. Smith would file a motion to elect Nephi's brother, Isaac, as secretary. 

As manager, White proposed lowering the price of the lots on the beach property to help sales because the land was not moving. This led to another conflict between White and Clayton over making improvements to the properties. The board of directors had created a new salt company to rival the Inland Crystal Salt Company that White had been working with. Clayton was also made the manager of that new salt company.

Clayton soon told White to inform the Inland Crystal Salt Company to stay off the beach property altogether, which only made tensions worse. 

Soon thereafter the First Presidency (Wilford Woodruff, Joseph F. Smith, and George Q. Cannon) came out to the property to meet with White as his residence. It was determined that the board of directors would deed 7-1/2 acres of White's original land to the Salt Lake and Los Angeles Railroad, which White vehemently, but powerlessly opposed with his one vote of dissent.  

Interestingly enough, Joseph F. Smith was the director of the Salt Lake and Los Angeles Railroad, and guess who managed it? Nephi Clayton. The LDS Church just happened to own the controlling stock in that company as well.

It seems as if the Church was strategically buying up majority shares in industry related businesses and bullying everyone out who wasn't a good o'l boy? Is this indeed how the Church still operates today? This strategy smacks of Mitt Romney's Bain Capital.  

White became so frustrated that he refused to have his name presented as a board member and resigned as manager. Nephi Clayton, patiently waiting in the wings, assumed the managerial position and continued to push White to the edge. 

Finally, Mathew White had had enough, and proposed to sell his 200 shares for $28,000, which was $8,000 more than he had purchased them for. The majority of the board members voted no, including: James Jack, Joseph F. Smith, Nephi W. Clayton, Wilford Woodruff, and George Q. Cannon (Cannon was the majority shareholder holding 1250 shares).

Although G.H. Snell was still including White's name on the board of directors as late as 1894, Mathew White and his 200 shares of company stock were never heard of again, and he vanished from the minute book records of the Saltair Beach Company. 

As far as we know, he was never paid for his shares nor his land. Did the Church use its financial prowess to strip this man of virtually everything, even his original house on the beach property where he had so generously wined and dined Church leaders while brokering the initial deal?

It certainly appears that way. 

In searching through old newspaper archives I was able to find an article in The Daily Tribune that briefly mentions a lawsuit between Mathew White and the Saltair Beach Company. They were still in litigation as late as 1895, and I do not believe White ever received compensation, or that any Church leaders were held accountable for this blatant thievery.

This begs the question: why would Church leaders involve Mathew White in the development of the Saltair? Was it just to dupe him into buying their land just so they could rip him off when he sold it back? Or was something else going on?

If the Saltair pavilion already existed then it would've surely been "founded" (found) by Church leaders when they arrived in 1847, so why the inclusion of this nonmember in the narrative?

Perhaps the truth is that the Church was struggling financially because of the Edmunds Tucker Act and the poor economy during the time, and needed the help of outside investors to engage in the renovation of the Saltair and the addition of the future amusement park. 

Or, perhaps White was a ghost and never existed at all. Maybe he was a mere generation of the AI that write the scripts of these narratives. And yes, I believe that AI has been around for much longer than we have been told.

Either way, Mathew White's name on the Saltair does not bode well for the LDS Church and its questionable business tactics.  

Built in Record Time

With White out of the way, Nephi Clayton began gathering the permits from city officials to build the railroad from Salt Lake City to the Saltair beach. As stated before, Clayton was the manager of the Salt Lake Railroad as well, placed there by the Church who owned the majority of shares in the company. 

The railroad was quickly built in less than a year during 1892 (another one-year wonder of the 1800s), and by winter of 1893 construction began on the Saltair pavilion resort. As I stated in the introduction of this post, it is claimed that the entire structure was built in less than four months, including the drilling and setting of the massive wooden piles. Here is a close up of them:

The company that supposedly provided the lumber was Eccles Lumber, yet we are given no details of where it was harvested from or how Clayton had it shipped to the jobsite. We are just told that forty nameless men mounted two steam drills to flat bloats and floated around drilling holes in the lake. 

(If you look up the history of Eccles Lumber, there is no mention of the Saltair Pavilion at all). 

As the narrative goes, the lake bed consisted of dense sodium sulphate, the steam drill would temporary soften this material, a pile would be placed, and a few hours later the sodium would harden like concrete.

I wonder how they were able to get these posts level enough to install a boardwalk and a deck for the pavilion without laser levels? It seems to me that this task alone would've taken months or even a year, yet we are told it took just a few weeks during the month of February. 

There is literally a dearth of academic literature detailing the construction history of this building, and our only source of such information comes from the owners themselves... quite conveniently. 

The Saltair Beach Company minute book is the only source of information on the building of this resort, and curiously, there are no entries during the first few months of the initial phase of construction.

Shoemaker himself is quite surprised by the lack of detail surrounding the construction and the speed at which it progressed, as expressed in the following commentary:
It is difficult to believe that such a project could be accomplished when one looks at the immense structure and considers the inclement weather that the lake normally experiences during the months of February through June. It is also surprising that there is so little information on this important period of Saltair. It is disappointing that in the Saltair Beach minutes there are no entries from the last meeting on November 15, 1892 until March 15, 1893. (Saltair and the Mormon Church, pp. 79-80)

Shoemaker goes on to quote an article published by the Deseret Evening News in January of 1893:

So quietly has the consummation of this project been carried on that many people in this city have barely heard of it and if they have learned of it the information has come to them in such a roundabout manner they have not attached much importance to it. (Quoted on p. 81)

"So quietly" it's almost as if it the construction never happened at all...maybe because it was already there. 

The minute book of Saltair Beach Company offers the following construction details:

Richard Kletting was the architect, the same man who allegedly designed the Utah and Idaho State Capitol buildings, and various other buildings in Salt Lake City. 

The contractor awarded the job was Eccles, Dederich, Level, Conrad and Company. I can't find any information on this "company," but it is interesting that we see the name Eccles, or more specifically David Eccles, who was the father of Spencer Eccles, the former director of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. I wrote about the Eccles family here.

Again we see the name of an elite insider used in yet another building narrative. And what I failed to include in my last post is that Spencer Eccles and John Huntsman were major donors to the restoration of the Cathedral of the Madeleine during the 1970s and 1990s.

The minute book claims that 800 men were employed on the project, but not a mention of a single name. Where are the journal entries of these men? Who trained them in fine woodwork and dome building? What kind of scaffolding was used to build the dome up to 100 feet tall? Were wooden cranes used? How were the massive iron support beams and trusses in the dome installed? 

How did the men get back and forth to the jobsite? Where were they being housed? If they rode the train from the city to the job site daily then who paid for the commute and where are the financial records? Was it even possible to transport that many men on a train at once?

How was it possible to train that many men in such a short amount of time or to even supervise them?

All of these logistical details are omitted from the narrative.  

And all of this in just four months? 

I'm not buying it. 

The narrative of the Saltair is reminiscent of so many buildings constructed during the same era: lack of details, super-human abilities and skills, accomplished in record time, and abstract construction photos like the one below that features men in top hats rather than actual construction workers. 

In these old photos we often see scaffolding superimposed around an already-built structure, or size anomalies like this photo of the pavilion and dome below. Judging from the scale of the people on the floor, the dome appears much smaller than it really would've been at a length of 264 feet: 

Here again is the photo of the finished dome for comparison. Notice it looks much larger:

As you can see, the dance floor was illuminated by hanging lights suspended from the dome. This begs the question: how was power brought out to the lake? 

During the 1890s the technologies used to for lighting and power were as follows: steam, hydroelectric, gas, and power lines supplied by a distant generator. The problem back in those days was that electrical loads demanding power had to be fairly close to the generators. 

We are simply not told whether power lines were installed along the Saltair Railway that led to the resort, and it wasn't until 1916 that this railway became electrified.

It makes more sense that power was generated locally at the resort. But how? 

According to the Saltair Beach Company minute book, the Utah and Montana Machinery Company performed the electrical work on the building, and a substantial debt was accumulated to a local electrical supplier. So what was installed out there?

According to John S. McCormick (Utah's court historian), who wrote a book called Saltair, there were thousands of lights installed during the initial construction. To me, it is more likely that the electrical contractor was hired to install the lighting in an already existing building, with an already existing power source.

Just installing the lighting alone on such a massive resort could've easily taken 3-6 months... yet we are told that the entire resort was built from the lake up to the highest dome in a mere 4 month period, in the dead of winter. 

The first ten minutes of the video below offers a interesting perspective on how salt water (highly conductive) and the Saltair's spires may have been part of an advanced technology to generate electricity. Start at the 1-minute mark to skip the intro:

Burn Baby Burn

In 1916 the first fire broke out, resulting in only a small amount of damage, later in 1925, the entire pavilion burnt down. According to John S. McCormick in his book Saltair, this is how it went down:
Early in the spring of 1925, as workmen readied Saltair for another record-breaking season, a fire broke out in the Ali Baba Cave concession under the grandstand seats of the Hippodrome. At 2:25 P.M. on April 22, an employee smelled smoke and discovered a four-foot wall of flames. He beat it out with his hands and had reduced the fire to embers before running for help. In the two minutes he was gone, the wind fanned the smoldering coals to a blaze. Workmen hurried to put it out and quickly sounded the alarm bell. A telephone call was made to Salt Lake for help, but the raging fire spread into the Hippodrome. For two hours Saltair employees, workers, concessionaires, and volunteers tried to save the pavilion. Firefighters from Salt Lake were on the scene in record time. Some arrived on specially built flatcars kept in readiness to speed fire engines to the resort, and the Sugar House fire station came with the only truck that could pump salt water. 

About 4 P.M. the winds shifted away from the resort, and it looked for a time as if the famed pavilion could be saved. Maddeningly, minutes later the wind swerved and drove the fire back toward the pavilion, fanning the flames into an inferno. As the Tribune reported, "tongues of the flame and smoke leaped fifty to one hundred feet [and] shot out and licked up the timbers and beams of the great structure as though they were cardboard." Heat and smoke drove the firefighters away, and the fire burned out of control. Within ten minutes the pavilion was a mass of twisted iron and charred beams. (p. 53)

McCormick's story is not adding up: a small fire starts at 2 P.M. in a concession stand, in the middle of a typical work day with scores of employees running around the resort, and a brisk wind comes up and the whole thing burns to the ground by 4 P.M.?

A more believable story would've been that a stealth arsonist started the fire in the dead of night. 

And why would iron "twist" in a common building fire? Does McCormick realize what kind of force this would take? The iron in the dome made up the frame that supported the wood, if the wood burned to ashes the iron frame would still be standing, unless of course the temperature of the fire reached upwards of 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. A typical building fire burns at around 1500 degrees Fahrenheit, and could not reach iron-buckling temperatures in the ten-minute window that McCormick is giving it here.  

This to me sounds more like a deliberate demolition or even a bombing raid. And another strange thing is that there are no casualties reported. The entire pavilion falls to the ground in less than ten minutes (during business hours) and not a single person killed or injured?

Shortly thereafter the LDS Church, headed by Mr. Corporation Sole himself, Heber J. Grant, offered the charred remains of the property to Salt Lake City Mayor C. Clarence Neslen as a gift to the city. Because they didn't have the estimated $300,000 to restore the building, the city respectfully declined.

Finally, in January of 1926, the Church sold the property to a conglomerate of businessmen who pooled resources to reconstruct the resort. One of these men was Willard T. Cannon, son of George Q. Cannon, which allowed the Church to keep one foot in the door of this new venture.

The new owners hired two architects to resurrect Richard Kletting's old drawing of the original Saltair: Raymond J. Ashton and Raymond L. Evans. A typical pattern you find in these AI generated stories is the use of the same names over and over again. Check out the video below for a more detailed analysis of this phenomenon, at the 9-minute-mark he goes into the AI repetitions: 

Work soon began on the Saltair II, which looked just like the first one with only slight variations. We are told that the structure was completed within a year, typical of so many amazing buildings of the era. And of course, we are given no construction details. 

It apparently looked like this:

Not unlike the original Saltair as shown below, yet we can see a few differences, which makes me wonder: did the building even burn down at all?

Then, in 1931, another fire swept through the roller coaster known as the Giant Racer, and in 1951, yet another fire torched many of the bath houses. In 1957, a strong wind blew the remnants of the roller coaster down. Finally, in 1970, the entire resort burned to the ground... for good.

The Saltair III was eventually built in its place, and this is what it looks like today, a pathetic shell of the beautiful architecture that once spanned out over the salty paradise:

Why is the fire narrative so significant?

Because this was a way for the powers that be to hide evidence of the Old World. 

Apparently, every major city in the United States nearly burned to ashes during the 1800s. Most of us have heard of the 1871 Great Fire of Chicago when a cow tipped over a candle and the entire city was destroyed, but no one told us that thousands upon thousands of stone and brick buildings were leveled to the ground as a result of these fires. 

I thought stone and brick weren't flammable? Apparently during the 1800s, these substances burned freely. 

In the video below, My Lunch Break shows that you can google "great fire" and pick about any city in America and come up with a historical fire:

What is even more interesting is that we are told that there were relatively few casualties as a result of these fires, even in cities like Chicago where thousands of buildings were destroyed. The first fire narrative we have was the great fire of London in 1666, and that date alone should arouse our suspicions:

Do you really think that this many random fires happened spontaneously all throughout the 1800s, or is there something else afoot? I mean, what are the odds of that really happening? 

In my opinion, this was deliberate destruction through some advanced technological weaponry, or the righteous vengeance of a just God. 

The real question is this: was an entire civilization erased from the earth during this time period, and if so then who were they?

Obviously, there are not answers to this question, but we can look to the scriptures for clues about how a just God conducts vengeful destruction when nations are ripened in iniquity.

And a major clue that God leaves behind is simple salt.

Join me next week when we explore the mysterious connection between fire and salt... and what that might mean for Utah.

For now I just want to leave you with these final thoughts. 

When studying old world buildings, we often discover that they are said to have burned down multiple times before the modern structures we see today are erected in their place. How do we know the truth of what really happened? In the case of the Saltair, was it really rebuilt within one year in 1926 or was the same structure always there until it met it's final doom in 1970?

As always I don't have the answers, all I can come up with are a slew of never ending questions. The deeper I go down the rabbit hole of the Old World, the more I realize I don't know anything.

On the first page of McCormick's book he quotes an excerpt from Wilford Woodruff's journal about a visit to the Great Salt Lake in 1847. Apparently, only three days after their arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young and a few other leaders made the 16-mile trip to Black Rock to take a dip in Salt Lake's southern shore. Just a few years later rumors began to circulate that Church leaders were already making plans to build a future resort on the beach.

My question is this: how did Brigham and crew know exactly where to go to find Black Rock so easily? Was this included on the maps given to them by Pierre de Smet in 1846? And was the existing Saltair pavilion also on the map? I can only imagine the awe of the young leaders as they marveled at the abandoned elaborate structure that lay before them. 

Perhaps they dreamed of a future time when they had the technology and the means to renovate and transform the edifice into the lucrative resort that would bring in endless revenue. 

Photos I took of a recent trip to the Saltair ruins:

Bonus Addendum: The Corruption of Nephi W. Clayton

Nephi Clayton was involved behind the scenes in scores of Mormon businesses, which appear (on paper) to have been handed over to him. He appears to have been a yes man as well as a fall man for what Mormon leaders were up to behind the scenes. 

Nephi Willard Clayton may just be the most corrupt Mormon businessman you've never heard of. He isn't even mentioned in D. Michael Quinn's Mormon Hierarchy: Wealth and Corporate Power, but indeed should be. Being the son of William Clayton, the man on whom hinges the entire legitimacy (or lack thereof) of D&C Section 132, Nephi is definitely someone who shouldn't be immune from our scrutiny.

Yet somehow he has managed to escape criticism throughout all the annals of LDS history. The truth? Clayton was a prodigious tool.

If you google his name the first thing that comes up is a court case from 1890: Clayton v. People of the Territory of Utah. He was accused by William H. Dickson (representing the prosecution) of "usurping and intruding into the office of auditor of public accounts" in the year 1879. He was only 24 years old. He claimed that he wasn't aware that he was functioning within this office "without the authority of law," which may have been true, but I don't believe that he was telling the truth.

The position of auditor of public accounts was handed to Nephi when his father William passed away in 1879. I guess politics was a family business for the Claytons. Although it was supposed to only be a four-year appointment, Clayton enjoyed this post up until 1890, when he found himself embroiled in the lawsuit.

What does an auditor of public accounts do?

They are supposed to conduct audits of government agencies in order to protect taxpayers from waste, fraud, and abuse. 

Yet this man engaged in all three of these indecencies in his personal business dealings.

Upon his forced retirement from the position he was immediately made a staff member in the cabinet of governor Caleb W. West, which continued with Heber M. Wells. After serving under Governor West he was given the rank of lieutenant colonel, which rendered unto him the nickname of Colonel Clayton. 

Much like Edward Mandell House, Clayton was made a colonel without ever having served in an actual army.

I believe there is a reason why we have heard little about this man... because on corporate paper he was literally everywhere. In addition to being a shareholder, a director, and the manager of the Saltair Beach Company, the Inland Salt Company, and the Salt Lake Railway, he simultaneously enjoyed similar positions in this exhaustive list of enterprises:
President of Clayton Investment Company; president of Consolidated Music Company; president of Inland Delray Salt Lake Company at Detroit, Michigan; president of Utah Sulphur Company; owner of Syndicated Insurance Company; president and owner of Clayton Land and Cattle Company; president of Inland Railroad Company; president of N.W. Clayton Company; director of Utah State National Bank; chairman, executive committee of the Inland Crystal Salt Company; president of the Brigham Young Trust Company. (Saltair and the Mormon Church, p. 70)

Is it even possible for one man to run so many companies? I think that Church leaders were using his name so that they could secretly run these enterprises from behind the scenes as silent majority shareholders.

There was a famous scam perpetrated by the Union Pacific railroad during the 1860s and 70s known as the Credit Mobilier. Because the U.P. was subsidized by public bonds, the owners (men like Grenville Dodge) came up with a scheme to make double profits off of building the railroad (such schemes are easy to perpetuate when you're playing with taxpayer money). 

In essence, the managers of the U.P. created another construction company (in house) and "hired" them to build the railroad. When it came time for billing, the newly created subsidiary charged its mother, the U.P., $50 million dollars over the actual cost of building the railroad, and the managers pocketed the change.

They created a company within a company and made it appear as if they were fleecing themselves, when in reality they were actually fleecing the bondholders, shareholders, and ultimately, the tax payers who were subsidizing them - for the greater "good" of building the transcontinental railroads.  

Although I can't prove it, I have a hunch the LDS Church was doing something similar with Clayton and all these enterprises. Rather than tax money, Church leaders were playing with tithing funds, but the concept of using public outlays for personal gain remains the same. Shoemaker provides an interesting commentary on Church business tactics as follows:

What applied to the church's handling of colonization, and enterprises such as the Salt Lake Street Railroad Company, Salt Lake City Gas Company, Zion's Savings Bank and Trust Company, Provo Woolen Mills, and ZCMI, and the sugar and salt industries, also applied to Saltair. The church formed an ecclesiastical corporation to hold church property and sold shares of stock, but always retained a controlling interest. If the company faltered, the church could invest more money to save it, or, as later policy developed, go to outside investors to keep things going. As times, not enough stockholders could be found to support a church project. To keep a low profile, the church would have individuals place their names as stockholders and then provide them the monetary backing. (Saltair and the Mormon Church, pp. 85-86, emphasis added) 

Of all the companies that Clayton was entangled in, the Brigham Young Trust Company is of particular interest for this post because it was involved in real estate. There is not much information available on this company, but it does get a brief mention in Quinn's Mormon Hierarchy: Wealth and Corporate Power.

The Brigham Young Trust Company had "control of the real estate in the Salt Lake City business district." Zion's Securities was started as a sister company to it. During the Panic of 1893, it defaulted on a loan of $50,000 owed to Wells Fargo, and was eventually dissolved and succeeded by Clayton Investment Company. (See Quinn, p. 513)

Nephi W. Clayton was also president of that company, which gave him control over all the business real estate in Salt Lake City. 

Why is this significant?

Because this company had control of many of the buildings that I've been blogging about in this series (and will blog about in later posts). This is how I believe they distributed these existing buildings and retained controlling financial interests in them.

1893 was an interesting year in Mormon history. In addition to the Salt Lake Temple being dedicated and the Saltair "built," the Panic of 1893 hit banks all across America, and the Mormon Church nearly went insolvent.

Heber J. Grant was sent to New York by Wilford Woodruff to attempt to secure loans to save the Church. But after months of meeting with bankers, he was only able to borrow $200,000 from John Claflin, president of H.B. Claflin Company of New York. We are told that this loan supposedly saved the Church, yet we are also told that the construction (I believe renovation) of the Saltair alone cost the Church $350,000.

Compared to the many other investments and businesses the Church was running, $200,000 was merely a drop in a bucket. So how did they really survive?

Well, during the summer of 1893 President Woodruff sent George Q. Cannon to England to meet with Baron Rothschild and his brothers to discuss a loan. The official story is that the Church was denied, but hold on a minute here...not just anyone can set up a personal meeting with the Rothschilds. (See the article, Crisis in Zion: Heber J. Grant and the Panic of 1893

The Church must've enjoyed some measure of status or tenure with these bankers for a meeting to set up so easily. This begs the question:

Was this meeting merely a check-in with the real masters of Mormon finance?

I believe there is much more to this story then we are being told, but for now I can only speculate.

Getting back to Nephi Clayton, after five years of managing the Saltair a report was written and sent to Joseph F. Smith indicting Nephi with several charges of corruption. This was known as the McMillan Report, written by William McMillan in 1898, a concerned beach company employee.

The report reveals that Nephi and his brother Isaac often used business funds for personal use. Even Nephi's entrance fee for the prestigious Alta Club (the fact that he was a member of this secret society should tell us something about Nephi) was paid for by the Saltair Beach Company. They took food stuffs from the restaurant for hunting trips, lumber to build their personal houses, and grossly mismanaged the Salt Lake Railway and Inland Crystal Salt Company. Furthermore, Clayton had a gambling problem, and according to author John S. McCormick, may have even owned a brothel in Salt Lake City.

A police captain was even willing to testify to McMillan "of certain immoral conduct that he has personally witnessed on the part of N.W.C." (To read the entire report, see pp. 108-111 of Shoemaker's Saltair and the Mormon Church.)

This begs the question: why would the Church allow such a shady character to manage so many of their enterprises?

It is true that Nephi Clayton stepped down as manager as a result of the McMillan report and was replaced by Jeremiah E. Langford, who managed the Saltair up until 1906 when the Church decided to sell the resort. But Nephi retained his shares and continued to manage the other companies for the Church. 

In 1906, the Church decided the sell the resort to...guess who? Nephi Clayton, Jeremiah Langford, C.W. Nibley, and Joseph Nelson - the same people who had been involved with the Saltair all along.

But in reality the Church never sold the resort at all, but only made it appear as if they had done so, because as you'll recall, when it burned down in 1925, Heber J. Grant tried to the give it away to the Mayor of Salt Lake City.

Yet, even when they sold it in 1926, one of the buyers was William T. Cannon, son of George Q. Cannon, so did they really ever let it go? 

Remember, it was George that held the majority of the shares (1250 to be exact) in the original Saltair. Did he pass these to his son William, and through him was the Church able to maintain its controlling interest in the resort?

This certainly seems to be the way the Church conducts business. It makes me wonder how much industry in Utah the LDS Church maintains silent control over.

Perhaps one reason for the Church's economic success in Utah can be contributed to being the inheritors of an abandoned city full of Old World buildings.

Can you imagine finding a city with streets already laid out in perfect grid form, full of stone buildings that only require cleaning or limited interior renovation? Once those buildings were ready to be used and/or leased out the potential income stream would be lucrative and perpetual.

Haven't you ever wondered why Joseph Smith was so economically unsuccessful yet Brigham become rich as soon as he went west?

For one, Joseph's heart was not set upon riches, but while he ran the Church he was either in jail or battling against the secret contingent of polygamous apostles operating in opposition against him.

Brigham, on the other hand, was cold and calculated, making sure to involve himself personally in every enterprise started with tithing funds in Utah. While Joseph died in poverty and obscurity, Brigham died a millionaire.

Doesn't it make more sense that Brigham had a little help from the powers that be? From the likes of say the Jesuits, or even the Rothschilds?

Regardless of where the Church's power and wealth emanated from, the Book of Mormon informs us that it won't last forever. These ominous words from our Lord to the Nephites should be ringing in the ears of those running the corporate Church today:

But if it [the Church] be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men or upon the works of the Devil, verily I say unto you, they have their joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire from whence there is no return, and their works do follow them. (3 Nephi 12:4, RE)

Until next time, enjoy these videos specifically questioning the historical narrative of Salt Lake City:


  1. My dad was a logger in North Idaho 50 years ago. We lived in Coeur d'Alene and the logging tucks rumbled past our house on Sherman Avenue. I learned about the big trees from my dad, and saw them transported to the mills. I have some firsthand experience observing what it takes to cut and move the big telephone pole sized trees.

    Later I lived in Hawaii, in a Kahaluu house on Kaneohe Bay. We had our waterfront property dredged for a 38 ft ' sailboat and piles driven to build a boat dock. I have some firsthand experience watching what it actually takes to sink big tree poles in water and build on them.

    Later in life I ordered a 2 story pre-cut 12 inch diameter whole log home from trees logged in Colorado delivered and assembled at my ranch in Boulder, Utah. I have some firsthand experience watching what it takes to load and unload and move into place big logs.

    I say all this as a preface to the following statement. There are multiple "anomalies" in the official story about the construction of Saltair, but all I have to see is the photo of those 2,500 40 ft. x 12 inch diameter lodge pole pines driven into 5 ft. of water from flat boats with steam powered "digging machines" on board to call BS on the whole story. Not humanly possible with that rope and tackle horse and buggy technology.

    If just that Saltair portion of our official Utah history is a lie, then what else is? And who has had access all these years since Brigham Young to the first president's document vault that might tell the real history, knows the truth, and keeps it under wraps? The truth will eventually come to light.

    Thanks Kendal, for being a digger.

  2. If you look into how the LDS garments were produced by manufacturing, they went to a SLC sewing manufacturing company owned privately and doing well. The church offered a contract with him to do 20 percent more, then 30 then 40 50 60 percent of his business, then dropped the contract putting him in bankruptcy. Shortly later buying the business for pennies on the dollar. It ruined his livelyhood. Thats Beehive Clothings history.

    1. They did that in England, too. My Salt Lake bishop, who had worked for the garment production facility there said never ever trust the church when it comes to money. He told me that the people who lost their jobs and were kicked to the curb were all recommend holding, tithe paying LDS members.

  3. Thank you so much for your research. Truly. I am really enjoying this series so much because I am also in deep waters trying to make sense of it all. It is impossible for me to believe the official narrative. Too many holes, too many inconsistencies. Who truly built these places? What exactly did we inherit? Where is the Lord in all of this? And why were early LDS Church leaders so crooked at so many levels? I have received an answer to that last question, but I am still speechless. I pray all these lies shatter soon because this illusion is unbelievable.

  4. Not one to be mind blown easily, but just as i have been researching and coming to the same conclusions about old buildings all over the USA and elsewhere, and finding JonLevi and MLB amongst many more, I am impressed that you are blogging about the exact same things, at the exact same time.
    I left the church years ago, but the BOM is to me exactly what it was when i first read it in the 90s, and what it claims to be. Never have been able to doubt it or refute it, no matter all the anti stuff i read againt it for the past 15 years. It just keeps vindicating itself and i love it- one cannot read it in pute intent and not feel the spirit of Jesus on every page. Such a solemn and beautiful book by the Nephites.
    My feeling is- these old world buildings, did they have anything to do with Lehi's people, and even the Jaredites? When people tell me that no evidence exists of the BOM, i point them to books like Antiquities of America by Ashael Davis in the 1700s who writes about all these buildings found strewn all over the place.
    Love to know your thoughts!

  5. I don't know if they're from Nephites or another buried history civilization but I agree that buildings from a previous civilization were inherited by the Brigham pioneers.


This is the Place XI: The Hidden History of Music

  Previously: The Tabernacle Organ and the Freemasonic "Architects" Welcome readers to part 11 of this series. This post will be a...