Place names can make an interesting study for anyone interested in local and regional history. Two locations in northern Utah’s Logan Canyon illustrate.
One of the most popular summer recreation spots in Logan Canyon was and still is a meadow on the Logan River high up in the canyon. Some of Cache Valley’s leading citizens spent time there during the hottest months in the 1890s and beyond. Families would often camp for days or even weeks at a time, with the breadwinners coming up for the weekends. The people who didn’t have the luxury of so much leisure time—loggers, herders, and others—referred to these well-heeled campers as ‘tonies,’ a derogatory slang term likely derived from ‘high-toned.’ The place where the tonies camped began to be referred to as Tony Grove, and the name stuck.
Interestingly, the name originally applied to the campsite along the Logan River that was popular with the wealthy campers. But over time, the name moved up the creek that also was named after the tonies, until it reached the lake that feeds the creek. Today’s Tony Grove is about seven miles up the mountain from the original site.
Another Logan Canyon site that has seen name fluctuation is Ricks Spring, a year-round running spring that is actually an underground diversion of the Logan River. The spring is named after Thomas Ricks, an early Cache Valley settler who often camped in Logan Canyon. In recent times, though, highway signs were erected that mistakenly identified the spring as Rick’s, as in belonging to someone named Rick. The signs have been corrected now.
These examples show how place names can fluctuate over time, and in the absence of memory or a written record, meanings and even the places to which names are attached can change.
Image: Tony Grove Lake, Logan Canyon. c. 1900s. Courtesy of Merrill-Cazier Library.
See Elaine Thatcher, Personal Communication with Hannah Thatcher, late 1980s; Elaine Thatcher personal knowledge; and A.J. Simmonds, In “God’s Lap”: Cache Valley History as Told in the Newspaper Columns of A.J. Simmonds (Logan: The Herald Journal, 2004), 203-204.