Paula’s ride to church in Trenton, Utah

I made a visit to my hometown in mid April, so I took some photos of my mom’s ride to church, through our little town of Trenton, Utah, just a couple of miles south of the Idaho border in Cache Valley. Trenton was founded in 1870 by Mormon pioneers, but it’s not a traditional Mormon village. It’s a “string town,” with a small town center with farms strung further apart on very rural roads. The Bear River meanders through Trenton, and much of Cache Valley, and it indirectly gave Trenton its name. A visiting church authority said that the trip across the Bear River to Trenton reminded him of Washington’s crossing of the Delaware to the Battle of Trenton, so Trenton, Utah was named after the armpit of New Jersey.

When I was in elementary school, we had our own school in town, with 3 classrooms– two grades in each, no kindergarten. When my mom was PTA president about 1966, there were 76 kids in the school. (My friend’s grandmother and great-aunt were the lunch ladies and they’d ask us what they should cook for lunch the next day when we came through the lunch line.) There were about 420 people in town then, and about 450 now. The school was torn down about 1970 and the children are now bussed about six miles to Lewiston. We lost our old church building in late 80s when it was deemed to be financially easier to tear it down, rather than maintain it. Now the ward meets in a building they share with the town just to the north, Cornish. The loss of those two important institutions has left the center of Trenton has almost become a ghost town.

Carole’s post a few weeks ago was about Paradise, at the south end of Cache Valley– Trenton’s at the far north end. My great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents all farmed here for most of their lives. Trenton is definitely my home, and as I see each of these places, I also see the people who are dear to me who have lived here.

So we’ll set out from my mother’s house, for about a 4 mile drive in her Buick sedan.

Notes on the photos:

4. Ever see Napoleon Dynamite? It was filmed in Preston, about ten miles to the north. The mountains here are visible in the scenes  when Napoleon is waiting for the bus. Like Napoleon, I spent many mornings waiting for the bus and looking at these mountains–I love every ridge and valley of them.

5.  A couple of miles from our farm, is the center of Trenton. At one time Trenton had a population of about 2000 because of the train station. It was considered as a candidate to be the county seat, but Logan won out, and Trenton’s now a quiet farm town. This photo is of the side of the old Trenton general store, which has been closed for 25 years or so. In the 70s, a painter in the valley traveled around and convinced people to pay him to paint mountain scenes on their buildings– here’s one, slowly fading from view.

6. The bell from the old red brick school house, on the town square where the school stood.

7. Trenton’s old post office, closed for years.

8. The “new” post office, the town hall and the fire department. When I was in high school, the girls my age were allowed to have sleepovers in the town hall, with no adult supervision, except for my friend’s grandma who lived across the street..

9. The gas station is from before my time.

9.5. In the landscape of my heart, this is what should still be here in the center of the town– it’s our fine old brick church with plaster walls and french doors inside. It was the center of life in Trenton the whole time I lived there.

15.  I will follow the Thumper the Rabbit’s mother’s rule here, and not say what I think about how this building on the far north edge of town compares to our old one.

24. and 25. I’ve doubled back to the square and these cars are next to the old gas station.

28. Somewhere near this bend of the river, in the 1860′s,  a group of miners coming south from Montana were attacked by group of Shoshone, at a time that the Shoshones had realized that their territory in Cache Valley was almost lost. Partly to avenge this attack, a group of U. S. Cavalry committed the Bear River Massacre north of Preston, Idaho.