Malan's Basin development schemes spanned a century

Thursday , June 18, 2015 - 5:28 PM

By Lynn Arave
Standard-Examiner contributor

Malan’s Basin almost rose to new heights several times.

The resort at Malan’s Heights in Malan’s Basin closed at the end of the 1904 summer season but plans were already under way to improve it.

“New resort planned. Electric line to Malan Heights, overlooking Ogden” was a May 31, 1905 headline in the Standard-Examiner. David Mattson, Weber County clerk, had secured an option to purchase it.

Mattson wanted to improve the wagon road to the resort and eventually put in a rail line.

“Mr. Mattson is very enthusiastic over the proposition and states it is his intention to establish a hotel, dance halls, etc., on the heights and no pains will be spared to make the place attractive,” the Standard reported.

Those plans fell through.

By February of 1907, still more new plans were under way. Thomas Slight, a local artist, was painting a large picture of Malan’s Heights. It was to be given to engineers to design a cog railroad to Malan’s Basin and even a dam for a lake in the basin.

“Cable to the clouds. Phil O’Mara and Associates to build to Observatory Peak,” was a March 12, 1907 Standard headline. Now, even more ambitious dreams of creating a cog railroad to “Observatory Peak” (today’s Mount Ogden) were made as the resort would be enlarged and known now as “Haven.”

“Will be no Resort at Malan Heights” was a June 30, 1907 Standard headline. “… there were too many obstacles in the way to procuring clear titles to the property” was cited as the reason for this plan’s failure.

In succeeding years, vandalism plagued the old resort’s property. From trespassing herds of sheep, which destroyed trees, to boys and men cutting down trees for Christmas sales/usage, a Dec. 20, 1910 Standard story stated up to 100 evergreen trees had been stolen on the private land and at least $1,000 in trees had been burned down.

“Electric sign on the Heights” was the next failed chapter in the resort, from the July 18, 1912 Standard. Ogdenite Gus Wright wanted the Ogden Publicity Bureau to put an “Ogden” sign, illuminated by electric light bulbs, on Malan’s “Point” (today’s Malan’s Peak), to attract the attention of train travelers. That never happened.

“Campers endangered by a gang at Malan’s” was a July 20, 1915 Standard headline. Some 50 picnickers in Malan’s Basin were terrorized by an unknown group of men who fired guns in all directions and eventually forced everyone else off the mountain.

“Notice to the public. We have leased Malan Heights for grazing purposes. Do not trespass. Hansen Livestock & Feeding Company,” was a June 4, 1918 advertisement in the Standard.

A May 22, 1923 Standard report mentioned a plan by William R. Miller to establish a pleasure resort in Malan’s grove, complete with a 10-mile automobile road and railroad access. He now had a lease on 1,100 acres, with an option to buy from G.H. Malan. The July 4, 1923 Standard reported that Miller had a temporary store, food and refreshments for hikers available in Malan’s Basin – for that summer only. Groups of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts also camped there that summer, but no permanent resort was ever realized.

On Sept. 13, 1925, the Young People’s Society of Ogden’s First Methodist/Episcopal Church held Sunday services at Malan’s Heights.

Another big fire on Sept. 5, 1927 destroyed anything left of wood in Malan’s Basin.

Note: Jump to 2005-2006 and Chris Peterson purchased 1,140 acres in and around Malan’s Basin with hopes of a year-round resort featuring accessibility by a gondola. That modern day proposal didn’t work out so far either and vandalism continues to plague this historic property.

Lynn Arave is a veteran journalist who started writing for newspapers in 1970 at Roy High School and for daily papers starting in 1976 with high school game reports for the Standard-Examiner. He has been an avid history researcher for three decades. He can be reached at

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