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A Killer July Storm

A Killer July Storm

While sunshine, picnics, poolside parties, Popsicles, and fireworks are what most of us think of during the month of July, summer snowstorms aren’t unheard of, especially in mountainous locations.

During 1816, the historic “Year Without a Summer,” snow was a regular occurrence in June, and as recently as 2011, snow blanketed much of the Rocky Mountains, as well as New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, in July.

At Soldier Summit, located at about 7,500 feet in Utah’s Wasatch Mountain Range, summer snow is not at all unusual. Too bad nobody told a group of would-be Confederate soldiers that before they began to cross the mountain pass in July of 1861, on their way to join the newly formed Confederate States Army.

The soldiers had been members of the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Crittenden (formerly Camp Floyd) when all soldiers were called east to fight in the Civil War. Deserting their company to join the Confederacy, an unknown number of southern-born soldiers were picking their way across the mountains toward home when a freak snowstorm caught them by surprise.

Because it was July, the soldiers were not adequately equipped to deal with snow. Two of the men lost their lives during the storm and were buried right there on the mountain’s summit.

Eventually, the main line of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad was constructed through the pass and, several decades after the soldiers passed through, a town sprang up, complete with restaurants, hotels, saloons, stores, two churches, and a school. The town was named Soldier Summit, in honor of the two soldiers buried there.

Soldier Summit was a small town, but it thrived during the years when the railroad was king. When trains declined as Americans’ primary means of transportation, replaced by the automobile, the town declined, too. By the time of the 1980 census, there were only 12 residents. The town of Soldier Summit was disincorporated in 1984.

Today, the area is a ghost town, with only inhabited houses still located at the summit. Visitors can see the remains of many of the old buildings once stood, and a few that still stand, along Route 6 near Helper City.

7 comments

1 Jaime McLeod { 09.26.12 at 9:02 am }

Hi Bobby,
I don’t know if there is or not. I did not find any in my research for this story. Good luck.

2 Bobby McGeary { 09.24.12 at 10:48 am }

Are there any records of the names of the soldiers that left Camp Floyd to join the Confederacy. I am specifically interested in the names of the soldiers that met their demise at the summit. I visited the grave site last week and am interested in improving these grounds, maybe obtaining a new flag and fixing the flagpole and general clean-up. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

3 Walter { 06.28.12 at 6:00 am }

Thanks for your time and efforts. Enjoying the site.

4 Linda Jacobs { 06.27.12 at 4:48 pm }

Thanks, Jamie, for an interesting article. I live in Utah and have passed through Soldier Summit many times. It’s great to know now how it got its name.

5 Gordon Kraich { 06.27.12 at 9:02 am }

Wish we had some of that weather here in Colorado now. Maybe would help get all the fires under control.

6 Jaime McLeod { 06.26.12 at 11:50 am }

Yoverizon – 1816 was definitely worse. 2009 was the “second coldest summer, in terms of average high temperatures, since 1872.”

7 yoverizon { 06.25.12 at 9:25 pm }

Was the summer of 1816 alot worse than the summer of 2009? Because that summer set plenty of record lows and just shattered them!! in 2009 I think the US had its coldest summer on record. There are actually articles about summer 2009 i read about but which one was worse?

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