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Doris Karren Burton, Author
Behind Swinging Doors: Colorful History of Uinta Basin
by Doris Karren Burton
Drinking establishments have been an integral part of Uinta Basin History. Often a tent saloon was the first place of business set up when a group of settlers came to the country. More saloons existed in Ashley town than any other type of business.
One of the first saloon keepers in Ashley later became the first saloon owner in Vernal, then the president of the first board, and Vernal's first mayor. He could even be called Vernal's first banker. Early Uintah County records list him as making loans to almost all of Vernal's businessmen and ranchers.
The saloons became social gathering places for men. They discussed their cattle, farms, prospecting, politics, and businesses. They made loans, talked over their problems, women, and whatever else was important -- more freely, of course, when they had a few drinks under their belts.
Uinta Basin had more than its share of saloons. When a strip of land was removed from the Reservation for Gilsonite mining, a town sprung up, where drinking, gambling, and prostitution flourished. No lawman, except scarce federal marshals could make arrests. Even the outlaws had their own saloon, and outlaw, Elzy Lay, operated a race track where outlaws and Indians gambled on the races.
Local women were supporters of the temperance movement, demanding the evil places be closed. After Prohitition, pool halls, and beer parlors opened with illegal gambling in back rooms. It is all here, from the rough-hewn bar to bootlegged moonshine.
Hardback, c1996, xiv, 446p. : ill. ; 16 cm.