Coming to Spring City
In 1976 we were married and spent our honeymoon in the little central Utah town of Moroni. This may seem like a strange place for newlyweds to resort to but it proved to be the first step in the journey our lives have become. While in Moroni we drove around the area looking at the little farming communities scattered here and there in this mountain valley. After looking at a number of homes in half a dozen different towns we drove into Spring City. As we drove around the town we felt as if we had come home. It had a feeling that caused us to discard any list of criteria for the place we would like settle down in. Three weeks later we bought a little old farm house where we would start a family. Like any other place Spring City has itís pluses and minuses. Taken as a whole it has been a great place to raise a family and has finally become an adequate market for our pottery. Living in small place with space and quiet in conducive to the creative process as we see it. The home with itís garden, the tree lined streets and pioneer architecture the mountains and the ordinary people who live here all are part of the paintings and pottery we make.
Our first home is now inhabited by a family who got out of East Germany in the 1970ís. Situated on a dead end it was quiet and we enjoyed our brief stay there a lot. Joe made pottery in a chicken house in the back yard. In those early days with a little baby to care for Lee didnít paint much. We kept goats, chickens, a cow for meat, a horse and some pigs. The garden was a big part of our family economy. It was the dream of our generation to get out to the country and live close to the land.
A few years later we sold that little home and moved two blocks east to the house we have lived in to the present. Built in 1910 it is a typical pattern book farm house. In the early nineties we added a log cabin for Leeís painting studio. The menagerie of farm animals has ebbed and flowed. We still have chickens for meat and eggs, several horses to keep Leeís riding passion satisfied, a half dozen cats and three dogs.
About the same time that we sold the first house we bought the present pottery shop at 278 South Main Street. We had felt for some time that we needed a location on Main Street where we could get better exposure. The old store building was just right. Work on what had been Alvin Allredís store began in late 1979 and by the fall of 1980 Horseshoe Mountain Pottery was open on Main Street. Over the years an addition was made to the building and the kiln shed was built out in the back yard. The building continues to evolve to meet the needs of the pottery business. Though we have no intention of ever leaving Spring City it has occurred to us that leaving here would be economically difficult. In the beginning it was very hard to scratch out a living here. After a quarter century of making and selling pottery and especially since producing our newsletter, Horseshoe Mountain News, business is so good that to move somewhere else and start over would be very difficult finically. There is something to be said for staying in the same place and making a consistent product. We are grateful to all of our customers who make our life here in rural Utah a possibility.
Spring City is nestled in the Sanpete Valley on the east side near the Wasatch Plateau. Though a desert the valley receives enough water, stored in the mountains above, to sustain a marginal agricultural economy. Our valley and mountains do not exhibit the stunning beauty and grandeur of the Wasatch mountains above Salt Lake City and Provo to the north. Like Spring City itís self the mountains and valley we live in have a quiet, understated beauty that suits our emotional and aesthetic needs. The Wasatch Plateau to the east of us, as the name implies, is a high flat mass of mountains. At the base of the mountains is sage brush, juniper and pinyon pine. As the hills turn into mountains the flora changes through pine, fir, spruce and aspens until at the highest elevations one finds low shrubs and wind flattened ever greens amongst rocky out crops. The valley is mostly treeless except where they have been planted around houses and farms. The towns are few and very small. The closest neighbors to Spring City are Mount Pleasant five miles to the north and Ephraim twelve miles south. Both are larger than Spring City but that isnít saying much. Ephraim now sports a WalMart , MacDonalds and a stop light. For a long time we took pride and comfort in the absence of those hallmarks of progress in our county.
Spring City was settled in the mid-nineteenth century by Danish and English convert to Mormonism. Originally the town was run as a communal experiment where all property was held in common with the church as the central governing organization. As time went by and more non-Mormons entered the area this economic order was replaced by the free market capitalism that dominates the rest of the US. The town was laid out in the ďCity of ZionĒ plan first introduced by Mormonismís founder Joseph Smith. In 1978 the entire town of Spring City was listed as a National Historic District by the Trust for Historic Preservation. This citation was mostly due to the fact that in Spring City this unique type of city planning is still very much evident in the layout and in the surviving buildings from the nineteenth century.
Every May on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend the Friends of Historic Spring City host a one day historic home tour called Heritage Day. People come from all over Utah to visit and inspect fifteen or so pioneer era homes, businesses and public buildings that have been carefully restored. A highlight of this tour is the LDS Meeting House in the middle of town. The ticket sales for this tour benefit historic preservation projects in Spring City most notably the ongoing restoration of the old school house. You can obtain more information about this by calling us at 435-462-2708 or looking at the spring edition of Horseshoe Mountain Pottery News.
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