Ogden Pioneer Days book's author looking for photos of event's early years

Tuesday , January 10, 2017 - 6:00 AM

MARK SAAL, Standard-Examiner Staff

Now that it’s January, it only makes sense that we should talk about …

… Ogden Pioneer Days.

Yes, yes, I know. Currently we’re about as far away — on either side of the calendar — as we can get from the annual July celebration. Last year’s festivities were six months ago, and next year’s event is still six months from now.

But Judy Anderson of Roy doesn’t mind discussing Ogden Pioneer Days at any time of year — she loves the annual event. Indeed, Anderson grew up in Riverdale and Ogden, and fondly remembers her family attending the rodeo every year.

“I loved it. I always wanted to be a cowboy,” she said. “I was a tomboy when I was a kid, and we always used to play cowboys and Indians with willow-stick horses.”

Anderson finally got her first real horse at age 15, and by 1959 her hard work and dedication paid off when she was named Miss Rodeo Ogden.

Today, 77-year-old Anderson has dedicated a good chunk of her life to preserving the memories associated with Ogden’s annual pioneer celebration. She’s also been instrumental in helping get the Utah Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum off the ground.

The goal of the state museum, which opened in 2012 in Ogden’s Union Station, is to collect artifacts related to cowboys and the Western lifestyle. The museum currently sits just east of Union Station’s Grand Lobby, in what was once a jewelry store/gift shop. Sadly, Anderson says most folks aren’t even aware of the museum’s existence.

“A lot of people don’t realize it’s there,” she said. “The last three years, when they’ve come out with the Pioneer Days booklet of places to see and go, it mentions the museums at Union Station — but they’ve never said anything specifically about the Utah Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.”

Anderson said that over the last four years, they’ve gradually been adding items to the museum and eventually hope for a larger space in which to display all of the artifacts.

“Our museum, we’re outgrowing it rapidly,” she said.

Equally important, Anderson said they’re working toward a research library for the collection of books and other materials dealing with cowboys and the West. Such a research facility is sorely needed, she said.

In 2009, Anderson compiled a book on her favorite subject. It was titled, “A Grand Celebration — Ogden Pioneer Days and the Rodeo Queens.” When she started her research for that book, Anderson thought it would be easy to find information on the subject. Though the city used to have a lot of Pioneer Day items — like old rodeo programs — they were all given to the state when a former mayor took office, Anderson said.

“We’ve tried to get it back, but once it goes down there, they don’t let go of it,” she said.

Anderson is now compiling a second book on the subject: “History of Ogden Pioneer Days — The Early Years, 1934 to 1959.”

Which is where you come in.

Anderson has put out a call for old photos and other documents and artifacts from Ogden Pioneer Days.

“I’m sure there are people out there who have kept pictures through the years in old family albums, and I am hoping they would allow me access to them to scan for inclusion in the book,” she said.

Anderson said she won’t turn any photos down, but she’s particularly interested in those between 1934 and 1959.

The research for the new book is pretty much done, Anderson said, and she’s amassed almost 250 pages thus far. She’s been writing it in chronological order and just finished the year 1949, so she now has 10 chapters to go.

“I hope to finish it by the time Pioneer Days comes along again,” she said.

Also on Anderson’s wish list are old programs from the Ogden Pioneer Days rodeo — especially from 1941 and 1942.

“If we can find those, our collection will be complete,” she said.

Anyone able to help in this quest for Ogden Pioneer Days photos and memorabilia is invited to call 801-731-2275. Anderson said she can scan your photos and return them the same day.

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272 or msaal@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SEMarkSaal.

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