Naturally Flowing Carbonated Water

Naturally Carbonated Water: Soda Springs Geyser, Soda Springs, Idaho, Courtesy & &copy Mary Heers, Photographer
Soda Springs Geyser, Soda Springs, Idaho

If you like drinking carbonated water as much as I do, you’ll be happy to hear you can drink as much as you’d like, -absolutely for free- just north of the Utah border in Soda Springs, Idaho.

Idan-Ha Mineral Water, Courtesy & &copy Mary Heers, Photographer
Idan-Ha Mineral Water
Courtesy & &copy Mary Heers, Photographer

Small Bubbling Soda Water Pool, Courtesy & &copy Mary Heers, Photographer Small Bubbling Soda Water Pool
Courtesy & &copy Mary Heers, Photographer

When settlers heading to California passed through this area on the Oregon Trail, they saw the many bubbling natural springs.

In 1838 Sarah White Smith, wrote in her diary, This is indeed a curiosity. The water is bubbling and foaming like boiling water.” But the water wasn’t hot.

She also wrote how delighted she was when she made bread with the water. “The bread was as light as any prepared with yeast.”

All this stirred up some fond memories I have of my high school science teacher who always made interesting things happen in the classroom. She put a pinch of sodium bicarbonate (commonly called baking soda) in a dish and added a couple tablespoons of water and vinegar. Voila! The dish began “bubbling and foaming like boiling water.”

For centuries something like this has been going on under the ground in Soda Springs. The carbonate rocks are mixing with slightly acidic water, sending CO2 bubbles to the surface .

By 1887, Soda Springs had grown to a bustling town. Some enterprising residents came up with a plan to capture the CO2 gas. They built giant drums over one of the springs and then built a five-mile pipeline to their bottling plant. There they mixed the gas with clear water from another spring and bottled it. The soda water was called “Idan-ha” and was shipped out on the railroad far and wide.

It won first place at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and again in the World’s Fair in Paris in 1905.

A decade later, another group of businessmen went to work on a plan to build a mineral water swimming pool resort.

On Dec 2, 1937, drillers dug down to 315 ft. No luck. They went to dinner. Then they heard a gush of water shoot up outside the window. They said it was “roaring like a dragon.” The whole area was enveloped in water vapor and Main Street was flooded. It took them two weeks to cap it.

The water wasn’t warm, so the businessmen abandoned their plans for a swimming pool resort.

The town knew their geyser was accidental; it was man-made- but still a plume of water shooting 100 ft into the air was impressive to look at.

Engineers put a timer on the cap. Now the carbonated water shoots up for 8 minutes every hour on the hour.

You can watch it for free.

As for drinking the naturally carbonated water, the city has set aside three springs.

My guide drove me to his favorite site just outside of town We scrambled down a grassy hillside to a small bubbling pool about the size of a basketball. He whipped out a cup and dipped it in. I drank. It was cold and fizzy.

“Good as Perrier,” I said.

He smiled, “Now I like you.”

I liked him too. Even more, I loved drinking this tasty treasure bubbling up from the ground.

This is Mary Heers and I’m Wild About Utah

Credits:

Images Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer
Featured Audio: Courtesy & Copyright © Friend Weller, Utah Public Radio upr.org
Text: Mary Heers, https://cca.usu.edu/files/awards/art-and-mary-heers-citation.pdf
Additional Reading: Lyle Bingham, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Mary Heers’ Postings

Price, Mike, Soda Springs, We Are East Idaho, EastIdahoNews.com LLC, September 9, 2019, https://www.eastidahonews.com/2019/09/we-are-east-idaho-soda-springs/

Hooper Springs Park, California National Historic Trail, Oregon National Historic Trail, National Park Service, US Department of the Interior, https://www.nps.gov/places/000/hooper-springs-park.htm

A man-made CO2 Geyser in Utah:
Weaver, Lance, Crystal Geyser, Grand County, Utah, Geosights, Utah Geological Survey (UGS), Utah Department of Natural Resources, January 2018, https://geology.utah.gov/map-pub/survey-notes/geosights/crystal-geyser/

Map on page 43 shows water from Soda Springs flows into the Bear River and the Great Salt Lake:
Dissolved-Mineral Inflow to Great Salt Lake and Chemical Characteristics of the Salt Lake Brine, United States Geological Survey (USGS) and The College of Mines and Mineral Industries, The University of Utah, 1963, https://ugspub.nr.utah.gov/publications/open_file_reports/ofr-485/Lake%20Brine%20Interpretive%20Reports/WRB%2003%20-%20Part%201%20-%20Hahl%20&%20Mitchell%20-%201963/Water%20Resources%20Bulletin%203%20Pt%201%201963.pdf

This piece originally aired August 25, 2023 as Naturally Carbonated Water https://wildaboututah.org/naturally-carbonated-water/

Delta’s Snow Goose Festival

Delta's Snow Goose Festival: Snow Geese at Gunnison Bend Reservoir, Delta Utah Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer
Snow Geese at
Gunnison Bend Reservoir
Delta Utah
Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer
Every Spring the city of Delta, Utah puts out a call to come on down to the annual Snow Goose Festival.

Right on schedule thousands of snow geese fly in from as far south as Mexico to fatten up on the spilled grain in the local farmer’s fields, and rest a bit before continuing their migration to the far north.

I arrived at about noon and sure enough found a few hundred of the white geese bobbling peacefully in the reservoir just outside of town. Then came a great crescendo of geese calls and I looked up. A couple hundred more geese were flying in like a precision jet team. They lowered their feet and waterskied to a soft landing, somehow managing not to bump into each other. And then the scene quieted down. It was time for a long afternoon nap.

Perhaps these geese wondered why so many spectators had come to the reservoir to watch them nap on their day off. But we had come to marvel at their ability to catch the slow rising tide of lengthening days and ride it to the north, timing their arrival to the melting of snow and greening of the arctic tundra. In the far north, the snow geese will split off into pairs, build their nests, and raise their young.

But in the fall, they will form up in large flocks once again for the return trip because they know flying together is far more efficient than flying alone. People that study the physics of flying tell us that birds can get an energy savings of 65% from the free lift of upward airflow around another bird’s wing tips.

A few years ago, I had read a book about a man in Ontario, Canada, Bill Lishman, who had carried out a migration experiment with geese. I dug out my copy of his book, Father Goose, and reread it.

Bill had hatched some Canada goose eggs in an incubator at his home. The geese followed him everywhere, toddling across his lawn, swimming in his pond, and going airborne while chasing him on his motorcycle. One goose liked to fly inches above his head, looking a lot like the bill of an amazing baseball cap. Eventually Bill coaxed the geese into the air behind his ultralight plane.

Could these young geese, raised without adult geese role models, be able to migrate? Bill launched his trial – a 400-mile fall journey from Ontario to a nature reserve in Virginia. The geese flew with Bill’s plane for 7 days, overnighting along the way, and settled down for the winter.

The next big question lay ahead: would the geese be able to find their way home unaided in the spring?

Unexpectedly, on April 1, the geese took off under cover of night. For two weeks, Bill and his team searched for them to no avail. Then Bill got a phone call from his wife. The geese had returned and were waiting for him on the lawn in front of his house in Ontario.

Did they remember landmarks in the terrain they had crossed on the way south? Did they navigate by the sun and stars?

Bill had shown that young geese could find their way home. But just exactly how they did it is still a very well-kept secret.

This is Mary Heers and I’m Wild About Utah

Credits:
Photos: Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer
Featured Audio: Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers
Text: Mary Heers, https://cca.usu.edu/files/awards/art-and-mary-heers-citation.pdf
Additional Reading: Lyle Bingham, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Mary Heers’ Postings

See thousands of geese migrating through Utah during the 2024 Delta Snow Goose Festival, Feb 1, 2024, https://wildlife.utah.gov/news/utah-wildlife-news/1842-see-thousands-of-geese-migrating-during-the-2024-delta-snow-goose-festival.html

Snow Goose Festival, Delta Area Chamber of Commerce, https://www.deltautahchamber.com/snowgoosefestival

Snow Goose Festival, Millard County Tourism, https://visitmillardcounty.com/events/snowgoosefestival/

Snow Goose Festival Video, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, https://fb.watch/r0SBEaTY5i/

Snow Goose | Canada Goose Comparison, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Canada_Goose/species-compare/59939631

Local Sled Dogs-Sheer Joy

Sled Dogs-Sheer Joy: Sun, Snow, Sheer Joy, Courtesy & © Mary Heers, Photographer
Sun, Snow, Sheer Joy
Courtesy & © Mary Heers, Photographer
As the snow continued to pile up this winter, I started to ask around about sled dogs.

I soon bumped into a friend who had a friend in Preston who trained and occasionally raced his team of 14 Alaskan Huskies.

This musher graciously offered to give me a ride on one of his training runs. I showed up all smiles as he was harnessing his team. The dogs were excited to go and actually howling with happiness. The musher asked if I wanted to get in – or ride up the trail a bit on a snowmobile with his teenage son to a more level spot. In a rare moment of sanity, I opted for the snowmobile.

The machine had just pulled out of the yard when I heard his son say, “Oh, No!”

I looked back in time to see the sled tip over, sending the musher sliding across the driveway and under my car parked at the end of it. I jumped off the snowmobile as the dogs shot past us with the empty sled. The dogs were gaining on a truck up ahead, then shot past it with the snowmobile in hot pursuit.

I was left standing in a snowbank wondering if I’d wandered into a James Bond movie.

My first encounter with sled dogs had gone a lot smoother. I was visiting Denali National Park in Alaska and the rangers were introducing us to one of the dog teams that they still use to patrol the park.

But the most famous sled dogs are the freight teams that carried anti-toxin from Anchorage to Nome during an outbreak of Diphtheria in 1925. The dog teams ran a thousand miles and are credited with saving hundreds of lives.

For the last 50 years, modern mushers have retraced this journey in the ultimate sled dog race, the Ididarod. The best account I’ve read about the world of training sled dogs and running the Ididarod is Gary Paulsen’s book Winterdance. Just before going on a training ride, he discovered, “the gangline was trembling, quivering like a string on a guitar. It fairly hummed and I felt there was great power there. The trees in the yard went by in a mad blur and we left the yard at warp speed.”

Paulsen also lets us in on the deep relationship mushers form with their dogs: “As they understand you will give them meat when they run, and love when they run, and your soul when they run – as they learn to feel that, understand that, know that – they are no longer sled dogs – they become distance dogs, dogs that cannot, will not be stopped.” Paulson ran the Iditarod in 1983. It was a wild ride that took 17 days. But he finished.

Meanwhile, back in Preston, our teenage hero had caught up with the runaway team, made a flying leap from the snowmobile onto the empty sled, and somehow managed to stop the team. Pretty soon the musher and I caught up.

“Do you still want to get in?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said.

And we were off. The dogs settled into a steady trot. From then on it was all Sun and Snow and the sheer Joy of sliding quietly through the magnificent winter scenery.

This is Mary Heers and I’m Wild About Utah

Credits:
Photos: Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer
Featured Audio: Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers
Text: Mary Heers, https://cca.usu.edu/files/awards/art-and-mary-heers-citation.pdf
Additional Reading: Lyle Bingham, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Mary Heers’ Postings

Paulsen, Gary, Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod, Harvest Books, HarperCollins February 17, 1995, https://www.amazon.com/Winterdance-Fine-Madness-Running-Iditarod/dp/0156001454/

Idaho Sled Dog Challenge, https://idahosleddogchallenge.com/

Pony Express & Wild Horses

Pony Express & Wild Horses: Pony Express Messenger Badge on Mail Satchel Camp Floyd State Park Museum Image Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers
Pony Express Messenger Badge on Mail Satchel
Camp Floyd State Park Museum
Image Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers

Images of the Old Stagecoach Inn As Sketched by Cecil Doty and Published in the Utah Historical Quarterly July 1958 and other images therein credited. Camp Floyd State Park Museum Image Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers Images of the Old Stagecoach Inn
As Sketched by Cecil Doty and Published in the Utah Historical Quarterly July 1958 and other images therein credited.
Camp Floyd State Park Museum
Image Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers

Pony Express Ad Camp Floyd State Park Museum Image Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers Pony Express Ad
Camp Floyd State Park Museum
Image Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers

Last month, Tom Williams’ interview with author Will Grant really caught my attention. Will was describing his adventures retracing the original Pony Express route thru Utah with his two horses, Chicken Fry and Badger. When he was crossing Utah’s West Desert, he ran into a wild stallion. The Onaqui herd of wild horses now roams freely there, but this stallion was a loner.

Will saw the horse first, about a mile away, rolling in the mud at a watering hole. Will knew the stallion would resent an intrusion into his space. Will picked up some stones.

The stallion came at them at a dead run. At the last moment, the stallion veered off and circled them at a gallop. At 40 feet Will threw his first stone. He missed. The second stone hit the stallion, who reared up and hammered the air with his front hooves. Luckily, after a few more stones the stallion had had enough and went off to graze.

Hoping to see the wild horses -from the safety of my car – I picked up the Pony Express trail as it skirted the southern edge of the Great Salt Lake. I stopped in Fairfield at a historic inn that had been the first overnight stop for the stagecoach leaving Salt Lake with the mail for the new state of California. The stagecoach journey took 25 days. The Pony Express said it could do it in 10. So, at this inn, the Pony Express rider just jumped on a waiting horse and kept going.

I wasn’t in a hurry, so I poked my head into a small brick building adjacent to the inn. Inside was a lone state park employee who was delighted to see me and insisted I watch a 10 minute video. I was amazed to find out that at this very spot over 3,000 US soldiers spent three years at what they called Camp Floyd. Then, when the Civil War broke out, the soldiers pulled up stakes and disappeared with hardly leaving a trace.

Back in my car, I followed the original pony express route for miles down an empty slim road. Up head I knew it would become so dry and desolate that water would have to be hauled to the relay stations by wagons. I was just starting to offer up a small prayer that I wouldn’t have any car trouble, when I caught sight of the highway intersecting the trail up ahead. I don’t remember ever being so happy to see traffic.

The very first Pony Express rider galloped into Utah in April 1860. Every rider rode between 75-100 miles, switching horses every 10 miles. It was expensive but it was fast. At the same time, another company, the Intercontinental Telegraph, was cutting down trees across the Utah Territory and extending their line of telegraph poles. In Oct 1861, five months after the Civil War started, the telegraph company had its 27,500 poles and 2,000 miles of iron wire in place. A message was tapped out in California, went zinging through the wires in Salt Lake, and was delivered to Abraham Lincoln’s desk. The people of California, the message read, would remain loyal to the union.

The message traveled from coast to coast in seconds. The Pony Express closed down its operations two days later. It had lasted 18 months.

This is Mary Heers and I’m Wild About Utah

Credits:
Photos: Courtesy Mary Heers, as taken at the Camp Floyd State Park Museum, Fairfield, UT
Featured Audio: Courtesy & Copyright © Friend Weller, Utah Public Radio upr.org
Text: Mary Heers, https://cca.usu.edu/files/awards/art-and-mary-heers-citation.pdf
Additional Reading: Lyle Bingham, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Mary Heers’ Wild About Utah Postings

2021 Onaqui Mountain Wild Horses Gather, Bureau of Land Management, US Department of the Interior, July 18, 2021, https://www.blm.gov/programs/whb/utah/2021-onaqui-wild-horse

Onaqui Mountain HMA, Bureau of Land Management, US Department of the Interior, https://www.blm.gov/programs/wild-horse-and-burro/herd-management/herd-management-areas/utah/onaqui-mountain

Grant, Will, The Last Ride of the Pony Express: My 2,000-mile Horseback Journey into the Old West, Little, Brown and Company, June 6, 2023, https://www.amazon.com/Last-Ride-Pony-Express-Horseback/dp/0316422312

“The horse went extinct in the Americas (along with other large mammals like the mammoth and giant sloth) about 10,000 years ago. It was the Spanish Conquistadors that reintroduced the horse to North America. When Hernan Cortez and his 200 soldiers landed in Mexico in 1519, they brought 16 horses with them. Over time, some of these horses got away to form wild bands, and others fell into the hands of the Native Americans.”
Heers, Mary, Gallop Thru Time, Wild About Utah, August 22, 2022, https://wildaboututah.org/gallop-thru-time/