NORTH OGDEN — A piece of North Ogden’s history will soon be gone to make way for a road connecting to a new subdivision taking shape in the city.
“Sad and the price of progress,” said Scott Chambers.
A large fruit packing shed built more than 100 years ago sits off 2600 North, offering passing motorists a glimpse of the industry — fruit growing and packing — that figured big in the early history of what is now North Ogden. Things change; land that once held fruit trees has given way to homes, and now, the large, weather-beaten barn in the 700 block of 2600 North is to be dismantled. The road just to the south, 725 East, is to be extended northward to give some 30 planned homes in an area where cherry and peach trees once grew a connection to busy 2600 North.
The roadway extension is contemplated in city planning documents. The looming change, perhaps over the summer, isn’t a surprise. Notably, there’s a bright side — Chambers’ son, Shayne Chambers, plans to disassemble the barn and put it back together on land he owns in the Mendon area in Cache County.
Still, change is change, and the structure and adjacent orchard that it once served, now gone, figure big in the memories of Scott Chambers, his cousin Steve Campbell and other extended family members. Scott Winfield Campbell, the great-grandfather of Chambers and Campbell, built the barn to serve the commercial cherry and peach orchard he operated in the area, S.W. Campbell & Sons.
“Not anything left,” Alene Chambers, Scott Chambers’ wife, said last week. “They just took the last three trees down on Monday. It was sad. ... No more of the old orchard.”
Given the significance of the structure to the North Ogden area’s history, the Weber County Heritage Foundation is helping prepare a documentary about the old building. Family members think it was built around 1905, maybe shortly thereafter. “It’s one of the last packing sheds up there,” said Kattie Stewart, the foundation president.
Perhaps more significantly, Shayne Chambers hopes to keep the old building alive in Cache County, though he’s still figuring out exactly how he’s going to transplant it. He’s hoping to solicit donations to aid in the effort, perhaps through a GoFundMe.com account, and welcomes help at firstname.lastname@example.org. “It’s not anything we’ve done before so it’s definitely going to be a learning curve,” he said.
He feels driven, though, to keep a small part of the past in the present. “Don’t want to see the history lost. We want to make sure we preserve what we can and keep that heritage alive,” he said.
The City of North Ogden had considered moving the old barn to Barker Park. The apparent cost and logistics, though, doomed that idea. “There was some concerns with being able to save the building and make it usable as a park feature. In the end, it just makes more sense for the city to not relocate the barn,” said Jon Call, the North Ogden city attorney.
Call said there are a few old buildings still standing from North Ogden’s agricultural past. Significantly, there’s the old Cannery Building at Washington Boulevard and 2000 North, where agricultural crops were once canned, now repurposed and home to several businesses. By and large, though, most of the old barns used in agriculture in the North Ogden area have been torn down, “many because they had simply lasted their useful life,” Call said.
‘A lot of hard work’Campbell used to work in the S.W. Campbell & Sons orchard, earning 3 cents for each pound of cherries he picked. “It was a lot of hard work for 3 cents a pound,” he said.
Scott Chambers also worked there, for one summer, anyway. “I picked cherries one year, enough to know I didn’t want to do it again,” he said.
The fruit — the orchard also produced peaches that were sold commercially — would be sorted and packed in the old shed, which has two levels. Then it would be hauled to Ogden and shipped to market via railcars.
Gradually, though, the operation faded. Part of the shed, the eastern part, was destroyed during a particularly severe winter due to the weight of the snow that fell on it. “At one time, it was really thriving. Then it just kind of dwindled down,” said Campbell.
More recently, the shed has been used for storage. Walking through it earlier this week, Alene Chambers pointed out what she thought was a remnant from the past. “That’s what’s left of a (fruit) sorting table,” she said.
The land where the shed and orchard sat became more valuable as space to build homes, though, and eventually the extended family members who owned it decided to sell. They understand that change is inevitable, but that hasn’t diminished the nostalgic sentiments over the years as redevelopment has edged toward reality. “There’s been some sad moments over the years,” said Campbell.