OGDEN — It isn’t Mount Rushmore, the four presidential heads carved into stone in South Dakota’s Black Hills.
It isn’t the Old Man of the Mountain, the famous stone face in New Hampshire that actually collapsed back in 2003.
But Donald Hughes and John Smolen, retirees and neighbors in northern Ogden, maintain they have something on par with those iconic mountain likenesses — D.J., a ghostlike apparition in the mountains high above their neighborhood.
“There’s nothing like D.J.,” Hughes said.
“D.J.’s the man,” Smolen added.
D.J. may not draw tourists from far and wide like Mount Rushmore. In fact, he doesn’t draw any, judging by the quiet streets in Hughes and Smolen’s residential neighborhood. And in the summer with the melting snow — which, together with the rocks on his perch, helps define his features — D.J. will go away. He’s a large oval of white snow with wide round eyes and an open, howling mouth. Think, vaguely, of a sideways version of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” without the hands on the cheeks.
Whatever the case, Hughes and Smolen, who first discovered D.J. late last year, think he’s a pretty cool dude. “I think what it is, his face is — what’s the word you want to say? — unique,” Hughes said.
D.J. — the “D” is for Donald, the “J” is for John — isn’t the only apparition in the mountains around Weber County. Perhaps more famous is Benny, the face that smiles over North Ogden on the south side of Ben Lomond Peak.
“He’s always been up there,” said Holly Fuller, a member of the board of the North Ogden Historical Museum. Benny, characterized by wide-set eyes and a wide grin, is visible in the winter, when snow accumulating around rocks puts the features of the apparition in relief.
Not everyone in North Ogden may know about Benny, Fuller suspects, but those who do like the idea of the cheery figure looking over the city. Benny is featured on a T-shirt sold by ThisIsOgden.com, a website that highlights the area.
“They like to look up there and see him watching,” Fuller said.
In the summer when the sun is just right, Fuller adds, there’s another face on Ben Lomond Peak, created by sunlight and shadows. LaVern Cottrell, another North Ogden Historical Museum board member, said the outlines of a horse are visible on the mountains south and east of North Ogden when the lighting is just right.
Such reports from others notwithstanding, Hughes thought maybe his mind was playing tricks on him when he first spotted D.J. “I thought, ‘Don, maybe you’re seeing things. You’re a senior now,’” he said.
Now, though, he thinks those looking into the mountains should let their minds roam and wander. Maybe another figure will appear.
“We’re just staring up there, looking at the pretty green and clouds, and then he popped up — Don John,” Hughes said.