OGDEN, second largest city in Utah, is the principal railway center of the intermountain region. Though east of the dividing line between Mountain and Pacific time, the city is, in railway practice, the place to reset watches. Travelers going west retard timepieces one hour to Pacific time at this point. Those going east advance their watches one hour. The city is built on the deltas of Ogden and Weber (pronounced Wee-ber) rivers, where these two streams once emptied into prehistoric Lake Bonneville. Although most of their water is diverted into storage reservoirs and canals, some continues down the channels to Great Salt Lake, about fifteen miles due west. East of the city looms the massive bulk of the Wasatch Range, cut by Ogden and Weber canyons. Mount Ogden, immediately east, and Ben Lomond, several miles north of the city, are topped with snow about eight months of the year. In autumn the mountain slopes are splashed with the brilliant foliage of the scrub oak, maple, aspen, service berry, hawthorn and chokecherry, interspersed with evergreens. Extensive areas of prosperous farmland merge with the city on the outskirts.
The most marked feature of Ogden is the broad, straight vista of Washington Boulevard, main thoroughfare, north and south. The city's wide streets (planned in true Mormon geometrical style on the four cardinal directions) are bordered by poplar trees, box elder, elm and cottonwood. The residential section is on the east and the industrial area on the west. Within the original townsite (bounded by 21st Street, Wall Avenue, 28th Street, and Madison Avenue) the business and older residential district has structures characteristic of Ogden as fort, village, town and city. Some of the older homes are the former dwellings of polygamous families, distinguished by several entrances and family divisions; in some instances they have been converted into apartment houses. A few homes still display the ornate jigsaw woodwork of the Victorian period. Outside this area, the bungalow, English Colonial, and more modern types of residence predominate. In the vicinity of Marilyn Drive, extending to the foothills of Mount Ogden, are newer and more costly dwellings forming the more exclusive residential area.
Throughout most of the year the life of the city is marked by no greater excitement than the arrival of tourists for winter sports or the livestock show, or of summer vacationists heading for the national park and forest areas. Late in July, however, the city undergoes a transformation, for on the 24th of that month the annual Pioneer Days, commemorating the arrival of the Mormon settlers in 1847, is celebrated. Rodeos, pageants, and parades recreate in colorful manner the atmosphere of the Old West, and the festivities last a week.
Shoshonean tribes lived in this region until after the arrival of trappers in the early 1820's. In summer the various bands moved into the mountains, even venturing into Wyoming and Montana to hunt bison. In autumn and winter the Indians established themselves near Great Salt Lake, while some groups traveled a hundred miles west to the pine nut country for the fall harvest. As late as the 1880's there was an abundance of fish in the mountain streams, waterfowl in the marshes, sage-grouse and rabbits in the foothills, and deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and other game animals in the mountains.
After the coming of white men, the site of Ogden and its vicinity was an important rendezvous and wintering place for fur traders and trappers over a period of six or seven years. As such it was a focal point for explorations, and for trade rivalry between American fur companies and the British Hudson's Bay Company, with headquarters at Fort Vancouver, Washington. Peter Skene Ogden ( 1794-1854), who was a brigade leader for the Hudson's Bay Company, was in northern Utah as early as 1825. That company held absolute dominion over the rich Oregon country, which, by agreement between the two governments, was under "joint occupancy" by British and Americans after 1818. Invasion by American settlers was out of question so far as the British could see, for the high mountain passes between the Missouri and Columbia river headwaters, discovered by Lewis and Clark in 1805, were impracticable for wagon travel. To this geographic barrier was added the enmity of the Blackfoot Indians, with whom Captain Lewis's party had hostilities on the return trip in 1806. Attempts to trap and trade in the Blackfoot country after 1806 had ended in disaster.