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Monday, December 20, 2010

Provo Tabernacle Fire Investigation Begins

Fire investigators don't expect to have a cause on the Provo Tabernacle fire for several days, or possibly even weeks. That's because it will probably be a few days until they can safely go inside. Investigators must wait until the building is more stabilized.
Monday at the Tabernacle, a contractor hired by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began removing fall hazards from the top exterior of the building.

Investigators could be sifting through the ashen remains of the Provo Tabernacle for the cause of last week's fire as early as Tuesday morning.

A construction crew hired by the LDS Church spent Monday tearing down some remnants and removing debris from the fire-ravaged building to make it safer for investigators to search the rubble. Demolition included the remainder of the gabled end of the roof on the west side.

Investigators spent the day studying old construction and remodeling plans for the more than 100-year-old tabernacle. They're familiarizing themselves with the layout so they have an idea of where to start once they get inside, said Provo Deputy Fire Chief Gary Jolley.

"What they're trying to do is develop a game plan," he said.
Fire Marshal Lynn Schofield also interviewed performers who were rehearsing the night before the blaze broke out to better understand the conditions inside the tabernacle and how things were set up, he said.

"We have a couple hundred performers, cast members and crew members that we've got to talk to and we're working on that today as well as other people that might have knowledge of the building and the systems being used that day," Schofield said.

Flames tore through the iconic building last Friday morning, gutting the interior. Debris piled 9 feet high covers the floor. The outside brick walls remain standing.

The site has been secured with a fence and is being guarded around the clock to ensure nothing inside is disturbed and to prevent anyone from trying to salvage anything from the building.

While many people are wondering if the Tabernacle will be rebuilt, the LDS Church has said it is too early to discuss what the future of the Tabernacle may be.

Officials have said once investigators get inside it could be days if not weeks before the cause is determined.

"This is going to be a long process because it's a large building," Jolley said.

In addition to the loss of the building, hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal property belonging to composer Lex de Azevedo and his Millennium Choral Society were destroyed in the fire.

Sunday night a benefit concert was held to raise money to cover those losses.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Provo Tabernacle Was "Part of Who We Are"

Nearly 2,000 people filed into the UCCU Center at Utah Valley University on Sunday night to mourn the loss of a historic building.

The memorial, and tribute, was held in honor of the Provo Tabernacle, which was ravaged by fire Friday. The cause of the blaze was still under investigation Sunday.

“This was more than a building; this building had a soul,” said Provo Mayor John Curtis in an hourlong service dedicated to the building. “It was a part of who we are.”

A performance of “Gloria” by the Millennium Choral Society was held after the service. The singing group had been scheduled to perform in the tabernacle. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert attended the service along with Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

“For us, this is an icon,” he added. “We need that building there.”

The completed Provo Tabernacle before the original tabernacle, whose spire is visible at the left of the picture, was demolished. Where that building stood, there is now a lush park cornering on Center Street and University Avenue. The stack of the heating plant is visible also on the left.

More Historical Tabernacle Photos

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fire Guts Provo Tabernacle

A massive fire destroyed the Provo Tabernacle, a historic building that has been a landmark in Provo for more than a century.
The fire was first reported about 2:45 a.m. Friday, December 17 and spread quickly through the 112-year-old structure. It took firefighters two days to extinguish the blaze. Provo Fire Marshal Lynn Schofield said investigators may not have an official cause of the fire until “well after” Christmas. Then the LDS Church will determine if the building can be restored.

Most of the brick facade on the lower portion of the building was still standing as of 9 a.m. on Saturday as well as the pinnacles of the building, but many fear the historic structure will be a complete loss.

"We're all really devastated," said Provo Mayor John R. Curtis. "Everyone in Provo has significant memories of concerts, plays, church meetings. It's an extremely vital part of my community. It's really a fabric of the community."

The tabernacle is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Church spokesman Scott Trotter issued a statement Friday morning calling the fire tragic. "The building not only serves our members and the community, but is a reminder of the pioneering spirit that built Utah. The damage appears severe and until we make a structural assessment we won't know whether this historic treasure will be able to be saved," the statement read.

No word yet on what caused the fire, but crews believe it may have started in the upper levels. No injuries are reported.

BYU crews were filming a concert inside the tabernacle Thursday night. One witness said she smelled something like a hot glue gun. "We just thought, 'OK maybe it's just TV crews and lights,'" she said.

Millions of dollars in electronic equipment used to produce and record the production also went up in flames.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Roy residents hoping for pilot's return to health

Dec. 6, 2010

ROY -- There is much concern over the welfare of the pilot who was critically injured when he crashed into a Roy neighborhood Sunday evening. The woman whose house he crashed into is most concerned not for her home, but for his well-being.

Video Courtesy of

The pilot, 46-year-old Clayton Roop of West Haven, remains in critical but stable condition at the University of Utah Burn Center with burns over about 15 percent of his body.

Pat Newman is a longtime resident of the neighborhood where Roop crash landed Sunday night. As she huddled in the dark, after running from her burning home, her thoughts weren't about her half-burned house -- they were of the man who crashed his plane into it.

"When I saw that ball of flames, I didn't think anyone could have possibly survived it," Newman said.

Roop was on his way back from Lake Powell when something -- possibly the thick fog -- caused him to miss the runway in his Cessna 210, just as Newman and her husband were settling in for the evening.

"There was a flash, but I didn't get the flash, it didn't register with me until later. And then I heard an explosion," Newman recalled. "Our car was right outside the door and the explosion was so loud that I said to my husband, ‘Our car has exploded.'"

But when Newman opened her door she knew it wasn't their car, but a plane. She and her husband only had time to grab their car keys and drive away as their car began to catch fire.

"I said to my husband, ‘I think we don't have all our tires because it feels like I'm driving on the rims,'" she said. "And there was no tire, it had been -- plus the front of the car, they tell me, is kind of melted."

But Newman still has a smile. That's because while she, her husband, her neighbors and the pilot all could have been killed, none of them were.

"I am so thankful we are alive," Newman said. "I am so thankful that everyone got out."

The pilot's family is thankful for that as well. Roop's wife said in a statement she and her family are grateful no one else was injured in the accident.

Roop's best friend Richard Farver spoke with KSL Monday about how Clayton Roop is doing in the hospital.

"What the doctors told us last night is that he'll need some skin grafts and he'll probably be in there for a month," he said.

Farver said Roop was a perfectionist -- that he believes something must have been wrong with the plane, because Roop was an experienced pilot who never would have taken an unnecessary risk.

"I'm sure there's a reason. Clayton was very meticulous. He would not have done anything that wouldn't be right," Farver said. "Something went wrong with the plane, not with Clayton, I'm sure of that."

Second pilot attempted landing before Roy neighborhood crash

Dec. 6, 2010

Sunday night's plane crash into a Roy neighborhood came shortly after another aircraft tried unsuccessfully to land at Ogden-Hinckley Airport -- twice -- before diverting to Utah County.

ROY -- Sunday night's plane crash into a Roy neighborhood came shortly after another aircraft tried unsuccessfully to land at Ogden-Hinckley Airport -- twice -- before diverting to Utah County.

Contract commercial pilot Steve Lindquist was flying a 10-seat Cessna from Oakland to Ogden. While making his initial approach, he says the sky above the Ogden-Hinckley was clear, but that changed.

"There was just a very heavy layer of low-lying fog," he said.

Lindquist said the problem was poor visibility. He and his co-pilot decided that, even though they had the necessary training and high-tech equipment to make a landing into Ogden-Hinckley Airport, it wasn't worth the risk.

"We just had some bad weather, and fog just really changes quickly," said airport manager Ed Rich.

Just before Clayton Roop crashed a Cessna 210 in the neighborhood near 2000 West and 4300 South in Roy Sunday evening, a pair of other planes also tried to land but decided to try other airports.

Lindquist was the co-pilot of one of those planes, a Cessna Citation SII.

"We did not have visual contact with the airport, so we executed the missed approach procedure," he said.

That means because they couldn't see the runway, with visibility at three-quarters of a mile and 200 feet altitude, they turned off and tried again.

"It's heads-up flying," Lindquist said. "And it's precise, and it can wear on you after a couple of them."

After a second unsuccessful try, he and his co-pilot flew to a clear-skied Provo.

"As Clint Eastwood used to say, a man's got to know his limitations. Mine's two," Lindquist said.

Though he does not want to speculate on what happened on the plane that crashed, Lindquist says there are minimum visibility requirements for instrument landing procedures, and visibility had been going up and down.

"It was still above minimums when we started our first approach, but had gone down during the approach," he said.

Pilots who use Ogden-Hinckley Airport say it has a good reputation.

"Very well organized airport, very safety conscious as well," said helicopter pilot Landon Bennion.

Rich says considering the number of planes that fly there, the airport has a solid safety record compared with other airports over the last 20 years -- despite four crashes into a nearby neighborhood.

"I would say it's at least average and maybe above average," he said. "We have about 100,000 takeoffs and landings a year, so over that period we've had a couple million takeoffs and landings, so it's not too bad."

Several pilots say many if not most airports they use were once surrounded mostly by farmland, but sprawl, homes and business have moved in nearby. They say flying directly over development is just a modern reality.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Plane crashes into Roy neighborhood

Dec. 5, 2010

ROY -- A plane crashed into a Roy neighborhood Sunday night, critically injuring the pilot. No one was killed.

Authorities confirmed three homes in the area of 2000 West and 4300 South were on fire. Fire officials say those fires have now been contained.

The Cessna 220 began to struggle in the heavy fog and clipped a power line just before 6 p.m., Roy City Fire Chief Jon Ritchie said.

"It hit the power line so those things were kind of sparking at you, and parts of the plane were still on fire," said neighbor Jennifer Presiler.

Pilot pulled from plane
Neighbor Gary Cox helped pull the pilot from the plane. He says the pilot was confused and badly burned but was able to answer questions.

"Pretty banged up, burnt on his hands and face, but he was actually coherent and remembered what his name was and what he was doing," Cox said.

The pilot was able to confirm he was the only person in the plane at the time of the crash. He was taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition.

Cox says there was "nothing left" of the plane, but that parts were scattered across the road.

Residents evacuated, power outages reported
The crash site is just southwest of the Ogden-Hinckley Airport. Fire crews were evacuating residents to North Park Elementary School at 2175 W. 4200 South. At least 50 people had checked in at the shelter.

Residents are reporting widespread power outages in the neighborhood. As of 8 p.m., Rocky Mountain Power reported 770 homes without power.

Roy Police Chief Greg Whinham said the neighborhood's residents were all accounted for Sunday night, and no one but the pilot was reported to be hurt.

Police are asking residents to stay away from the crash site, which has been congested with people and cars. Emergency crews are having a difficult time getting in and out of the area.

Fourth crash in the area in just 21 years
This is the fourth time a small plane has crashed in this area. On March 12, 1989, the pilot of a single-engine plane escaped with just minor injuries when his plane crashed in small field on the south side of 44th South at about 16th West.

Then in July of 1999, four people were killed when their single-engine plane plunged into the backyard of a home at 4311 S. 1900 West -- across the street from the airport runways.

Before hitting the ground, the plane clipped several tall trees, ripping off several large limbs and then flipped onto its top. It burst into flames upon impact.

In 2005, two men survived when their single-engine plane crashed into a home at 2133 W. 4300 South and burst into flames. No one was home at the time, but police evacuated nearly 100 people from about 30 homes in the neighborhood.

Both the pilot and co-pilot walked away from the plane. They were treated for serious injuries.

"I'm not happy about it at all," said Marné Bowden Sunday. "This is the third plane that's crashed in this exact same neighborhood. The one plane hit a house two houses away from where it crashed today."

Cause of the crash is still unknown.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Who are the Taliban?

November 28, 2010
The Taliban are active in both Afghanistan and Pakistan

Recent years have seen the re-emergence of the hardline Islamic Taliban movement as a fighting force in Afghanistan and a major threat to its government.

They are also threatening to destabilise Pakistan, where they control areas in the north-west and are blamed for a wave of suicide bombings and other attacks.

The Taliban emerged in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.

A predominantly Pashtun movement, the Taliban came to prominence in Afghanistan in the autumn of 1994.

It is commonly believed that they first appeared in religious seminaries - mostly paid for by money from Saudi Arabia - which preached a hard line form of Sunni Islam.

The Taliban's promise - in Pashtun areas straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan - was to restore peace and security and enforce their own austere version of Sharia, or Islamic law, once in power.

In both countries they introduced or supported Islamic punishments - such as public executions of convicted murderers and adulterers and amputations of those found guilty of theft.

Men were required to grow beards and women had to wear the all-covering burka.

The Taliban showed a similar disdain for television, music and cinema and disapproved of girls aged 10 and over from going to school.

Pakistan has repeatedly denied that it is the architect of the Taliban enterprise.

But there is little doubt that many Afghans who initially joined the movement were educated in madrassas (religious schools) in Pakistan.

Pakistan was also one of only three countries, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which recognised the Taliban when they were in power in Afghanistan from the mid-1990s until 2001.

It was also the last country to break diplomatic ties with the Taliban.

But Pakistan has since adopted a harder line against Taliban militants carrying out attacks on its soil.

The attention of the world was drawn to the Taliban in Afghanistan following the attacks on the World Trade Centre in September 2001.

The Taliban in Afghanistan were accused of providing a sanctuary to Osama Bin Laden and the al-Qaeda movement who were blamed for the attacks.

Soon after 9/11 the Taliban were driven from power in Afghanistan by a US-led coalition, although their leader Mullah Mohammad Omar was not captured - and neither was Osama Bin Laden.

Foreign forces have poured into Afghanistan in an effort to crush the insurgency
In recent years the Taliban have re-emerged in Afghanistan and grown far stronger in Pakistan, where observers say there is loose co-ordination between different Taliban factions and militant groups.

The main Pakistani faction is led by Hakimullah Mehsud, whose Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is blamed for dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks.

Observers warn against over-stating the existence of one unified insurgency against the Pakistani state, however.

The Taliban in Afghanistan are still believed to be led by Mullah Omar, a village clergyman who lost his right eye fighting the occupying forces of the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

Afghans, weary of the mujahideen's excesses and infighting after the Soviets were driven out, generally welcomed the Taliban when they first appeared on the scene.

Their early popularity was largely due to their success in stamping out corruption, curbing lawlessness and making the roads and the areas under their control safe for commerce to flourish.

US onslaught

From south-western Afghanistan, the Taliban quickly extended their influence.

They captured the province of Herat, bordering Iran, in September 1995.

Exactly one year later, they captured the Afghan capital, Kabul, after overthrowing the regime of President Burhanuddin Rabbani and his defence minister, Ahmed Shah Masood.

By 1998, they were in control of almost 90% of Afghanistan.

They were accused of various human rights and cultural abuses. One notorious example was in 2001, when the Taliban went ahead with the destruction of the famous Bamiyan Buddha statues in central Afghanistan, despite international outrage.

On October 7, 2001, a US-led military coalition invaded Afghanistan and by the first week of December the Taliban regime had collapsed.

Mullah Omar and his comrades have evaded capture despite one of the largest manhunts in the world

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Veteran's Farewell

November 27, 2010

Today a friend of mine lost his grandfather and now another of our veterans is at peace.
I wish to pay tribute to this man who served our country willingly and with pride. I wish to show my reverence for all those brave American Patriots that sacrificed all......for the glory of God and all mankind.

"Tribute to Courage", By Rich Thislte

"HMCS Sackville", By John Horton
The Battle of the Atlantic was one of the most harrowing and important struggles of the Second World War. It was a struggle to sustain the vital lifeline of supplies from Canada's east coast to Britain and the European Front so that the fight for freedom and democracy could continue. In the end, we were victorious, but a terrible price was paid for victory. More than 4,600 men and women lost their lives at sea.

RCAF B-24 Liberator long range bomber, by Lars Larsen

"We Flew With The Heroic Few", by Rich Thistle
"What General Weygand has called The battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin.... upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must soon be turned upon us.... If the British Empire and its Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, 'this was their finest hour'. "
-Winston Churchill, June 1940

"D-Day, the Assault", by Orville Fisher
The largest sea-borne invasion in history, the D-Day landings involved more than 156,000 troops from the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and the forces of the Free French. Nearly 7,000 vessels of all types would be involved, of which more than 4,000 were landing craft. The operation would be supported by approximately 12,000 aircraft, a task which included flying sorties, dropping of bombs, and the transportation of parachute troops.

The objective of the invasion, the creation of a lodgement in Western Europe, was long held and thought essential to the defeat of Germany. Since 1942, plans had been drawn and re-drawn, eventually emerging as "Operation Neptune", the assault phase, and "Operation Overlord", the invasion itself.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

SEVERE Storm Approaching Utah

November 23rd, 2010

National Weather Service issuing a blizzard warning for much of the state. A strong cold front is expected to arrive in Northern Utah by 2-4pm, in the Wasatch Front between 3p-6p, and then through the rest of the state. Expect the wind gusts to blow between 30 and 50mph as the front arrives. Bitter cold air should move in quickly, with temperatures in the teens tonight. Single digits possible tomorrow morning. More snow is possible along the Wasatch Front tomorrow morning as well. Highs tomorrow could stay below 20. Lows Thanksgiving could drop below zero if skies clear. -Grant Weyman, Live 5 Weather HD 11.23.10

Major storm rolling into Utah
November 23rd, 2010 @ 4:41pm
By Richard Piatt

SALT LAKE CITY -- A storm that brought a blizzard to the Northwest Monday now is rolling into Utah. A blizzard warning is in effect for most of the state.

Snow is reported in Tremonton, Snowville and North Ogden. Interstate 84 is closed at the Idaho border and likely will remain closed all night. Interstate 15 is closed in both directions at Tremonton. Two semi trucks jackknifed and are blocking both lanes of northbound I-15 three miles north of the State Route 30/Riverside/Logan interchange.

The combination of snow and strong winds comes during the peak of holiday travel, creating such a buzz that most schools and businesses in Utah closed early. Rarely has a storm been so talked about, even before it arrives.

Road conditions are a concern for the Utah Department of Transportation as thousands of people hit the freeways and streets. Many people were allowed to leave work or school early to avoid driving in the storm. Several evening events have been canceled as well, because the goal is to keep as many people off the roads as possible.

They're keeping an eye on the approaching storm at UDOT's Traffic Operation Center. Seven hundred cameras monitor changing conditions. Crews use weather updates, phone calls, and radio traffic to update traffic and road information and pass it along to commuters as quickly as possible.

Glenn Blackwelder, the operation center engineer said, "We're keeping an eye, it's just trying to monitor all the information and then pushing that information out to the public."

UDOT trucks are loaded with salt and were ready to go hours before a snowflake hit the roadways. There are 500 snowplow-salt trucks statewide, and it's likely they'll all be out Tuesday night. But because of the cold and the potential for lots of blowing snow, it still might be hard for them to keep up.

Ryan Ellsworth, UDOT's roadway operations manager said, "It's going to be a challenge keeping the roads clean. We're going to go around, filling up, getting back on the road as soon as possible. But it's going to be hard to keep the roads clean, for sure."

In conditions like these, it's a good idea to be prepared even if your commute is normally 20 minutes or so.

UDOT spokesman Nile Easton said, "You're going to want to make sure you bring some water. You may be stuck out there two to three times longer than you're use to. So, dress appropriately."

Residents are encouraged to stay off the roads Tuesday night if possible.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Big Fill Trail Hike and ATK - July 2010

During the first months of 1869, the valley to the east of the Promontory Mountains was filled with construction camps of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads. Many of these camps became short-lived "Hell-on- Wheels" towns with names like Deadfall, Last Chance, and Junction City. Today, virtually nothing remains of these construction camps, however, the workers' legacy of a hand built railroad has been preserved.

Hiking the 1 1/2 mile loop trail will allow you to see first-hand some of the railroad's most difficult hand-hewn achievements, including the Central Pacific's Big Fill and the site of the Union Pacific's Big Trestle.

The Big Fill was an engineering project on the First Transcontinental Railroad in the U.S. state of Utah. To avoid a costly 800 feet (240 m) tunnel through mountainous terrain east of Promontory Summit, Central Pacific engineers mapped an alternate route that still needed to span a deep ravine.

Over two months, 500 workers hauled more than 10,000 cubic yards of material to build the rail bed. At its extent, the fill extended for 500 feet (150 m) and up to a depth of 70 feet (21 m).

Within sight of the Big Fill, the Union Pacific line was also attempting to cross the ravine. The Union Pacific was several months behind Central Pacific, and opted to build a wooden trestle instead of using an earthen fill.

The Big Trestle was built in 36 days. Six months after the completion ceremony, Central Pacific was awarded control of the line from Promontory to Odgen. They opted to take the rail from the poor quality Big Trestle and move it to the Big Fill, which remained in use until the rails were removed in 1942. Today both sites are part of the Golden Spike National Historic Site where a walking trail allows visitors to see the Big Fill and the remains of the Big Trestle.

This view is looking south down Spring Creek ravine from the Central Pacific's upper grade. On the left and right of the ravine are the eastern and western abutments of Big Trestle.

Looking west along Big Fill. The South Promontory Mountains are on the horizon. To the left is Great Salt Lake. This view provides a clear view of the abutments of Big Trestle.

Not since tunneling through the Sierra Nevada did the Central Pacific confront such a rugged landscape. This portion of the railroad also represents the most grueling construction the Union Pacific undertook form Omaha to Promontory.

Grading crews could work up to 300 miles ahead of track laying crews. A meeting point had not been mandated to the companies and they had no incentive to cease construction as their work crews drew closer to one another. Consequently, they built grade past each other for 250 miles. When a meeting point was finally agreed upon, both companies discontinued grading beyond Promontory Summit. All along the trail there is both complete grade and partially constructed grade.

Central Pacific's grade is the upper grade and the Union Pacific's is the lower grade.

Rock cuts and fills had to be constructed along the route to bring it within the required grade of 2 percent or less. Cuts were made to create fill by a two man team called "double jackers", who drilled holes in solid rock using a long, narrow drill bit, which was repeatedly struck with a heavy sledge hammer or double jack.

After the hole was drilled, a worker called a "powder monkey" would fill it with black powder, carefully tamp and fuse the powder, and set off the charge. A successful blast would reduce rock to a size that could be shoveled into mule-drawn dump carts and taken to an area that needed to be filled.

When debris from construction of rock cuts wasn't needed, the rock was dumped into mounds called spoils piles. The piles were size-graded, featuring different sizes of rocks.

This harsh terrain was home to thousands of railroad workers during the final days of the railroad's construction. Several Union Pacific camps were scattered in the valley below and although many of these camps maintained reputations as "hell-on-wheels" towns, only Deadfall held this distinction in the Promontory area.

Deadfall at Promontory - An Archaeological Mystery

Tents at Promontory 1869

This tranquil photograph of Union Pacific's Deadfall belies its rough and raucous reputation. (A.J. Russell photo)

The present day buildings in the distance are part of the ATK Launch Systems Group complex on Utah 83.

Central Pacific's biggest problem: how to cross Spring Creek Ravine. Imagine placing the first small, mule-drawn dump cart load of fill at the bottom of the ravine. The work took over 2 months of intense effort by 250 dumpcart teams and more than 500 workers, totalling more than 101,000 cubic yards.
To span Spring Creek Ravine, the Union Pacific constructed the Big Trestle, which was located 150 feet east of hte Big Fill. Because it meant to be a temporary structure, construction of the Big Trestle took only 36 days. The trestle was 85 feet high and 400 feet long.

(NPS PHOTO) About 8 months after completion of the transcontinental railroad, the Central Pacific gained control of the route from Promontory Summit to Ogden, Utah and trains began using the Big Fill rather than the Big Trestle.

Heading east past the site of the Big Fill and the Big Trestle, one passes through Carmichael's cut and then the wildlife becomes abundant.

This Great Basin Whiptail Lizard was almost invisible with his surroundings.

The "Cnemidophorus tigris tigris" is a terrestrial lizard of arid and semi-arid deserts to open woodlands where vegetation is sparse enough to make running easy. Their movements are rapid and jerky. They are among the most difficult lizards to capture.

Then two hawks began circling above.

Perhaps they were looking for lunch or maybe protecting something above me in the rocks.

Various shelters are scattered throughout the Promontory Mountains. They may have been used as a cache for construction materials or as shelter during blasting

Heading east around the next bend, more of ATK Launch Systems becomes visible across the valley.

The Promontory Mountains watched over the achievements of those who labored here. These achievements remain preserved at Golden Spike National Historic Site as a tribute to the perseverance and talents of all who worked to complete an engineering marvel and open a new chapter in our nation's history - the era of the railroad.

The Promontory Mountains continue to loom over the sprawling, isolated ATK facility, builders of NASA space shuttle rocket motors.

The plant, once designated as "Air Force Plant 78", once employed over three thousand people, who worked in 450 buildings, clustered in the various industrial and test areas that are scattered throughout the bare hills of the 30 square mile complex.

In 2001 Thiokol's propulsion division was acquired by Alliant Techsystems, a weapons and explosives manufacturer that operates a large plant outside Salt Lake City, the Bacchus Works.

ATK Launch Systems now faces a time of uncertainty and since April 2009, more than 1,900 people have left the company, voluntarily or otherwise, after defense and aerospace cutbacks in the shuttle and other missile programs.