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Cleveland Days hosts Pioneer Night with Owen Olsen

Owen Olsen creates a pioneer village in Cleveland on his property.
Owen Olsen.
Cleveland residents and visitors gather to hear the history of the cabins.

A Family Pioneer Night at Owen Olsen's Pioneer Village in Cleveland was held July 15. Cleveland villagers and others from around the area gathered around a fire pit for a pledge to the flag and a prayer followed by Owen Olsen relating the history of his pioneer village.

Olsen's children and grandchildren helped with guided tours as they showed visitors the interior furnishings in several of the restored pioneer buildings. These pioneer buildings came from around Emery County and are in Cleveland as a result of Olsen's love of history. He put his collection of old restored pioneer homes on a piece of land, which he owns, along the north end of Cleveland's main street.

Olsen said, this all started in 2007 when I built a building to house the little old red Cleveland Fire Truck. "The town of Cleveland was building a new fire station and they had that little fire truck in the back of the station. Seven years prior to that when I was driving between Ferron and Castle Dale a little story started in my mind. When I got to Castle Dale I wrote the story down. The story was about "Little Jasper The Fire Truck." This story was made into a book. "Greg Oliver the Cleveland Fire Chief read the story and went to the City Council suggesting they give me that old Fire Truck. To my surprise they did give me the truck.

"To protect the truck I needed to construct a building. I used the donations of wood pallets from friends to build the walls of the building to house the fire truck. While roofing the building I fell off and broke my foot. Then the Cleveland Ward came and finished the roof. The next summer the building was completed.

"One day while driving to Price I saw a cabin sitting in Darrel Gardner's field where he had installed a pivot sprinkler. I knew the cabin was going to have to be removed. I talked to Natalie, she talked to Darrel and he talked to Jimmy about the cabin. Jimmy said go ahead and take it. The cabin was in pretty bad shape. I disassembled the cabin one log at a time. I brought the pieces here and put it back together. After six months it was nearly finished. I have kept adding things to it. The stove you see was donated to me.

"One day Arch Allred said I am selling my farm and I have a cabin on the farm. Five of my ancestors were born in that cabin. My children do not want the cabin will you take it and do something with it. I jacked the cabin up and moved it to Cleveland. It took a month to jack it up. Then Bud, Rich and I moved it here. After I restored the cabin I discovered it is really a special cabin. There is only one place where I can feel the peace that I feel in that cabin and that is in the temple.

"There was a building attached to the cabin and when I jacked it up they separated. I took this cabin and left the other for later.

"The cabin I made into a store was in bad shape. It was caving in on itself and the front of it was gone. I put on a new front and a new roof to make a neat store.

"One day I was driving down the road in Castle Dale and I felt I should talk to Mrs. Seeley. When I spoke to her she said down in the field there are two cabins and if you want them you can have them. I got one of them and turned it into a schoolhouse. The cabin came from Quitchupah. The desks you see in the cabin, I found in a burned down house and rebuilt them. It is my grand kids favorite building. The steeple on top came from the Desert Lake School. Doyle Allred was driving cattle through Desert Lake and saw some men tearing down the school. He got the steeple and took it home. It sat there for 60 years. I rebuilt the steeple and put it on the school building.

In the schoolhouse there is a piano, student desks a teachers desk and a flag.

The cabin built by Edward Markesan was a homestead cabin. His grandson gave me a copy of the deed signed by Grover Cleveland. Edward was a good craftsman see how close the corner log joints fit snugly together. Some of the pioneers were very good with an axe. This building is very solid. A new roof has been added and some windows that it did not have. This was a very snug cabin.

"The cabin I have on display as a black smith shop was built by Harry "Pap" Roper. Harry Roper came into this valley in 1882. He lived in Lawrence. Harry also owned most of the land in Lawrence at one time. For a long time his family lived in a dugout until he built this cabin. Harry was not an accomplished craftsman as evidenced by how loosely the log corners of the building fit together. Harry Roper was a farmer and a beekeeper.

"The blacksmith building was originally the first cabin built by Harry Roper and I turned it into a blacksmith shop. The cabin was in rough shape when I found it. It was very hard to restore.

"Inside the blacksmith shop is the original vise from the blacksmith shop of Cleveland. One anvil I purchased. The other anvil was given to me. The rest of the blacksmith equipment in the blacksmith shop came from friends as donations. The furniture, the anvils, the binder belts, the blower and all the tools make this a blacksmith shop," said Olsen.

Olsen said taking the Roper family from the dugout to the first cabin would have been like going from a hole in the ground to the Taj Mahal. It still had a dirt floor but at least they had a better roof over them.

"The second building built by Harry Roper was a little bit better. The logs in the second cabin do not fit together as well as they could have. None of his cabins had a wood floor. The next building I call a jail, some boys from Duchesne High School helped tear the building apart and bring it here in one hour and fifteen minutes. My son and I later put it back together. Emery County gave me some of the bars from the old jail in Castle Dale. Those bars are in place now. I experimented with using mud for chinking between the logs similar to the way pioneers did. I found that mud falls out when it dries and does not hold as well as cement," said Olsen.

The group was treated to home-made ice cream and desserts. Olsen said, "Thanks for coming and you are welcome to tour through the buildings and enjoy yourselves."

Jamie Jensen thanked Olsen for all his hard work and said, "I love him and the cabins."




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