Author Archives: Carolyn Steele
A Journey Through Soda Springs
As I was putting my book trailer together, I had the delight of revisiting some of the photographs I snapped on my last trip to Soda Springs and Grays Lake.
A little background, first:
My father was raised in the Grays Lake valley of southeast Idaho, just northeast of Soda Springs. I visited there nearly every summer as a child, not quite as often as an adult. I started developing a storyline set in Grays Lake, but when I stumbled upon the fascinating settlement story of Soda Springs, my characters implored me to tell that story–hence, “Soda Springs.”
I visited Grays Lake and Soda Springs again in June of 2014, and wandered through the scenes of my characters’ creation. The following are images that particularly “spoke” to me.
If you drive into Soda Springs from the East, as Tessa and her father did, you pass a beautiful spring–with a vile stench. This is Sulfur Springs.
Current day: Standing on the spot of the former Camp Connors looking toward the site of the original Soda Springs (Morristown) settlement . . .
1865 view: This is what Tessa would have seen after racing the last several miles of the journey with her ailing father. A scattering of bedraggled cabins. (The reservoir in the background also did not exist, but I can push my PhotoShop skills just so far.)
Commemorating the fort that was abandoned in February, 1865 – five months before Tessa arrived.
Abandoned home in Soda Springs that inspired the home where Tessa and her father lived for much of the story.
Historic Hooper Springs – where Tessa first learns of the Morrisite war and polygamy, and meets William. In 1865, the clear spring was marked only by a few rocks around its edge.
Storms sweep quickly through Soda Springs–as Tessa soon learns.
Soda Creek meanders through the valley. Before Alexander Reservoir covered the original town site, Soda Creek was the demarkation between Morristown on the south and the Brigham Young-settled Soda Springs on the north.
This was my Aunt Jennie and Uncle Vern’s store. When I was a child, they ran a small grocery store here. This building was originally a ZCMI–the second branch of the iconic department store, built shortly after Brigham Young’s arrival in the area.
On the road leading from Soda Springs to Grays Lake, just north of Henry, is a vast lava field. There are no towering mountains nearby–just rolling hills. I find it interesting that a field this large would be found without the volcano-looking cone you’d associate it with.
Sand cranes dance on the marshes. This is the Grays Lake valley of my heart, looking southward across the valley.
And the cabin and barn that forever marks our arrival in this paradise.
In the book, Neils and Mary Anderson become dear friends of Tessa’s. The Anderson’s really did settle Morristown, the original Soda Springs. Mary Anderson’s jaw was torn away by a cannonball in the Morrisite battle that led the sect to Soda Springs. Neils and Mary were married shortly after arriving, and their son Abe was the first child born in the settlement.
The Anderson’s homestead–the only structures remaining from the original settlement.
Watch the book trailer for “Soda Springs,” featuring images graciously contributed by some of the residents of Grays Lake.
Let’s Launch This Party!
Willow Springs hits the shelves in just over three weeks. Join me on August 16 for my launch party at the Sugarhouse Barnes & Noble!