Frontier Homestead recently lost a long-time friend and supporter, Carl Croft. Carl was instrumental in the creation of our Utah Parks Company exhibit and spent many hours providing advice, direction, and telling us great stories. When Carl was three years old he spent two summers with his family at the Grand Canyon while his father George supervised the construction of the power, pumping, and housing facilities. In 1947 Carl began working as the Assistant Maintenance supervisor for the Utah Parks Company and became the Supervisor of Maintenance in 1966, a position he held until his retirement in 1985.
We will miss Carl and his stories. We thought we would like to share one of our favorites. This was taken from an oral history interview he recorded with us in 2004.
In the early days, the number of employees averaged around 700 people for the entire Utah parks system. That also included a necessary rest stop in Kanab. The busses when they first started were not fast enough and the roads were not good enough to go from Zion to the North Rim without a rest and lunch stop. So they put a little lunch building at Kanab. That facility later turned out to house the UPC laundry operation.
In the beginning, the railroad had central laundries for their hotel dining rooms and their dining cars. For the Utah Parks Company, our early laundry facility was in Ogden, Utah. Union Pacific had set it up so we could use that as the laundry for all our linens. The maids would go in and strip a bed, take the sheets down to the linen room and throw them into a hamper. That afternoon a supply truck would take the loaded hamper to Cedar City and drop it off at the commissary. There was a man at the commissary that would take all the hampers from the parks and put them on the express train headed for Ogden. The laundry would be washed and pressed up there, hauled back from Ogden to Cedar City, loaded onto a truck and delivered to whichever park, and placed back onto the shelf by the cabin maids. So you had a set of sheets coming, one going, one in the laundry, one on the bed, and two on the shelf. So you figure up how many complete changes of laundry were needed to maintain a clean cabin.
After World War II the UPC eliminated the laundry having to go clear into Ogden and put their own facility in at Kanab. We didn’t need the rest stop anymore because the roads and the buses had improved. The railroad had a great big old boiler that they decided to take to Kanab for the laundry. They unloaded the boiler from the train at Cedar City and decided to take it by truck through Zion. There is a tunnel in Zion, in fact there are two of them. They made it through the first tunnel without a problem. However, there is a spot in the second tunnel that is several inches shorter than the rest and they got hung up. They had to let a little air out of the tires and that lowered it just enough so they could get through.