Friday, July 26, 2013

Logan Love: Ephraim's Grave

I've had a long-time love for bears. For our honeymoon, we went to Glacier National Park. There were bear warning signs plastered everywhere. I searched and searched for a bear in the bear-infested land and never even saw one. Bummer. I've always wondered where my odd obsession with bears stems from and I think I discovered the source.

As a little girl, my grandma would tell me stories about Old Ephraim. He was a massive grizzly bear who roamed the land as far as Soda Springs, Idaho down to Weber County in Utah (that's a lot of land for a bear). Old Ephraim is kind of a local bit of folklore. He was also known as Old Three Toes due to a deformity on one of his paws. He reeked havoc on farmers, devouring their sheep and chasing off sheepherders. Many tried to catch and kill him and it took a long time for anyone to succeed.

Frank Clark, a farmer from Malad, Idaho decided to make it his mission to catch the bear. He had trapped and killed many grizzly bears. Clark tried for a long time and failed. He found a pool where Old Ephraim went at night so he dropped a trap in the water. Each time, the following morning, the trap would carefully be lifted out and set aside. Clark was amazed with how smart the vicious bear was. Finally one night, Clark succeeded. Shrieks of terror woke him up so he left camp and soon found the bear with the trap clamped on his paw. It took seven shots and I think it about gave Clark a heart attack, but he finally killed the infamous bear. Later he said he regretted killing Old Ephraim.

Up Logan Canyon, near the site where the last grizzly bear in Utah was killed, there now stands a huge monument. The stone structure is 11 feet tall, the same height as Old Ephraim. This song is engraved on the monument:

Old Ephraim, Old Ephraim, your deeds were so wrong;
Yet we build you this marker and sing you this song;
To the king of the forest so mighty and tall;
We salute you, Old Ephraim, the king of them all.
I had always wanted to visit the monument, but it never happened. Finally, last weekend, I did it. I even wore my bear shirt for extra celebration. The fact that we also chased sheep down the road was another dramatic touch (since Old Ephraim's favorite snacks were little lambs). My family drove down from Idaho to join in on the fun. Huge props to my lovely mother for loading the ranger and four-wheeler on the trailer all by herself. Talk about Superwoman. I also better give a shout out to Jace and Alexis for following the ranger the entire way on the four-wheeler. They ate our dust. Quite literally as you can see from that last picture.

To get to Ephraim's Grave, go up Logan Canyon and turn at the Temple Fork turnoff. From there, follow the signs leading to Ephraim's Grave. This August, it will be the 90th anniversary of the legendary bear's death. Another interesting bit of information: Old Ephraim's skull is on display at the USU Library. It's been to the Smithsonian as well, so his noggin is kind of a big deal.

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