Saturday, December 30, 2017

Eagle Gate

The Eagle Gate at Temple Square in Salt Lake City is the most unique, widely known, road-related artifact alongside US 89 from Mexico to Canada.

Brigham Young commissioned English immigrant Ralph Ramsay to carve an eagle to top the entry gate to Young's property. The eagle was dedicated February 17, 1859.  The 1875 map clip below sows the Eagle Gate at the intersection of First East and South Temple Streets.

The gate was removed in 1890 to make way for electric street cars.  After a relentless hue and cry from Utah citizenry, the eagle was copper plated and resumed its perch on top of a wider gate. The new gate was designed by one of Brigham Young's sons and dedicated by LDS and Salt Lake City leaders October 5, 1891.
The 1891 version of the Eagle Gate catapulted the iconic landmark into ever wider fame and legend.
The automobile inevitably replaced street cars. Eventually, official US numbered highways came to Salt Lake City.  The route of US 89 traveled State Street north to the Eagle Gate, giving the icon ever wider exposure to untold thousands of travelers. US 89 turned west at the Eagle Gate.

The fortunes of time smiled on the 1891 Eagle Gate for almost 70 years until a truck hit one of the support columns.  The Eagle Gate came down in 1960.  There was no doubt that the Eagle Gate would return.  The third version was designed by a Brigham Young grandson who was also son of the second gate's architect.

Hundreds of people attended the November 1, 1963, dedication of a soaring, monumental rendition of the Eagle Gate.  The design of the landmark has been called one of Salt Lake City's best standing examples of Mid-Century Modern design.

The Eagle Gate continues to soar tall, mighty and free as a tangible connection with LDS and Salt Lake City history.  The gate evokes the formative years of Intermountain West culture as well as the many transportation phases of the Wasatch Front. The Eagle Gate stands as a symbol of the ebb and flow of people across the Intermountain landscape.

There is no other artifact along US 89's route from Mexico to Canada that can compare to the cultural significance of the Eagle Gate.  Likewise, no other structure large or small carries such an incredibly rich history held aloft with such grace, class and style.

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