Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

Wendy Westergard Journals

July 17, 1997

Image courtesy of: Heritage Gateway Project Images, These images have been gathered to support the Sesquicentennial celebration of the immigration to Utah.

Location: Henefer, Utah - Twenty miles from "This is the Place" State Park.

Summary: Authentic camp tent descriptions.

Journal entry: I am siting on a blanket and am going to tell you a little about the difference between the authentic camp and tent city. Authentic camp is located directly in the circle of wagons. There are a bunch of canvas tents set up. The poles are made of wood that easily give you splinters. The A frame tents have 2 poles that have a 3-4 inch metal spike that goes through the ridge board. The ridge board has two holes directly at each of the ends.

These tents are great because they do well in a variety of weather conditions. They seem to be more streamline for the wind and the rain. Wind sticks by most of the time and just flaps a bit. The rain slides down and only reaches the ground and soaks the ground. The only time these tents give us problems when it rains is if we use too long of poles and it is too high off the ground, rain can come in the 2-5 inch gap between the flap of canvas and the ground. The other way is if the canvas is not tightly bound any more. When canvas get old it gets frail. It isn't tightly woven together anymore so it will leak very easily.

There are two more kinds of tents we use in the authentic camp. One is the baker. It is a tent that is square. The front of the tent is around 6 1/2 feet tall and the back around 3 feet tall. They have ridge poles for the back and front. We use 2 by 4 poles of wood that we have straps that go around the poles. On each end there is another pole that has the same metal spikes that go through the pole. They are just a little bit longer of spikes. The front of this tent is pulled out and held up by a little higher of a pole and provides us with some shade to work with in camp. this has been a safe haven from the beating sun many a time.

The other kind of tent we have, only for the last half of our journey is a tepee tent. This tent is made of canvas and looks much like a teepee only without the hole in the top. In the middle it has one thick wooden pole running up the middle of the tent. It is usually somewhat carved so that it is not too bad in the splinter area. The bottom of this tent is in the shape of a square and the top a point. These tents have flaps at the bottom to keep the dirt and dust from blowing in, which makes me like these tents the best. The door are much like what you can see of picture of real tents. The door is oval. The flap that covers the door is square and ties all around. This is my favorite tent, even though I don't get to sleep in them very often.

There is an aisle way down in the tents, because they all face each other. Between this space we add woven carpets to make it seem a little more like home. It looks like a small community living in canvas tents, or a small village. The kitchen is the center area of the authentic camp along with the focal point. This is where all of the action takes place. Not only does all of the cooking (a wonderful major part) but the washing of dishes, clothes and all sorts of things. We mend our clothes most of the time near this wondrous place.

There are wood crates surrounding the camp so that the public does not come in that part and hurt themselves. The children are told to stay away from the iron so that they will not get burned, There is black iron kettles, fry pans, and Dutch ovens. Wood crates hold our gear such as silver ware plates, cups and such. Our plates and cups are made of tin. Sometimes when we drink water the taste of tin is very prevalent. I've never really had that problem with our food though.

Our forks and knives are made of metal that easily rusts if we do not dry them and they have wood handles. The forks have three very long prongs. The tin cups are very small and don't hold a lot of water, so we are forever always having to get up and get more. We have a portable pantry that carries all of our spices in tin round containers, sometimes with corks in them. Our only table we use on a regular basis is a wooden board that is put on top of two wooden barrels. (By the way the way water stayed in the barrels is because they would wax the inside of the barrels and that is how it would not leak out.)

There are wooden and canvas chairs that are scattered all over our aisles. Children run and play gaily about camp using their imaginations to come up with all sort of fun things to do. Women will talk amongst themselves as they busy themselves doing laundry or supper. It is wonderful to work outside. We have wonderful scenery to look at as they work. (Hey it beats sitting in a house looking at a wall or something, plus they have company of women around their same age.)

I have been in my dome tent now 3 days. Let me tell you it is quite the change. I feel like each night that I'm in here I am still in the 20th century. Every time I move back I transport myself in time. There are too many reminders of a time that once was in tent city. We do not live in that society any more out here. If I just jump in to the whole experience such as the authentic camp it is much easier to live the train than live modern for the night and old fashioned during the day.

The one advantage of the tent city that the authentic group doesn't have is the fact that the porta potties and water tanks are near. Our aqua green portas are within 200-500 feet of tent city. Whereas, for the authentic camp sometimes we have to walk for five minutes to find a bathroom. It makes sense because it wouldn't look very good to have a porta-potty in the middle of the wagons circle, but it just occurred to me what a difference it makes to be in tent city.

Today I caught up with my journal entries, along with yesterday. I wrote them down because I was having problems finding Margaret or BC who had the eMate. I walked around camp a lot meeting lots of people who came out to see us. There weren't as many as I thought would be here, but there still was a lot of people, especially compared to how many we are used to.

At 1:30 PM we watched one of the Odessy shows, It was the one about the handcarts for those of you have seen it. It was an amazing one. It had a lot of us in tears, including myself. Maybe it is because we all know this is coming to an end soon.... too soon. Later I washed my dress in the authentic camp with the wash board and hung it out to dry. It was so dusty and dirty. I discovered a bunch of new places that need to be patched. I hope I get a chance to do that tomorrow. The last thing I want to do is go into the valley with a "holy" dress. I want to go in with patches. I will walk in with the dress that has the most patches. that means I will be going in my blue dress.

Tonight we went to the program. It was the Utah symphony and Elder Ballard came to talk with us. It was nice to see Elder Ballard in something different than a suit and tie. It seems that is all we see the General Authorities wear. I used to think in a child that was all they wore and they lived in them. Sometimes I wonder.

The Utah Symphony was great. I don't think the symphony has ever played for such a relaxed group. No one was dressed up, except dirty pioneer clothes. Okay there were a fair amount of visitors that got dressed up. There was a lot of people there. The whole ball field was filled. The ending was the best. They played a song of John Phillip Sousa. It was the best. We used to march around in the kitchen at home with spoons in our hands as we listened to this song, so it brought back a lot of happy memories. Thanks Utah Symphony. We really enjoyed and appreciates your performance. I even had front row seats sitting on a blanket.