Anderson's Folly | Urban Living

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Anderson's Folly

Posted By on April 11, 2018, 11:00 AM

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Utah is known for its natural castles. We have the famous Castle Valley in Grand County where glorious desert vistas are found. Our stellar public lands (including Arches and Canyonlands national parks and Monument Valley) make me think you can't find better castles anywhere. Those towers are part of a landscape created 300-plus million years ago by nature—not man. We Utahns make ice castles in Midway during the freezing months, create Castle of Chaos haunted house attractions around Halloween and build mega mansions all over the state. None of those can compare with Mother Nature's beauty, but man tries. Over the ages, we have tried to outdo nature—and never succeed. Here is such a story:

One of the least known man-made castles in Utah doesn't exist anymore, but there's a plaque that stands in its original footprint. In the late 1800s, Robert Anderson built a castle where visitors could climb up 54 feet and look out over the burgeoning Salt Lake City. He got granite from the same quarry the LDS temple was built from, and he designed it to look like a medieval tower you'd find in Scotland or England. An original Utah pioneer, he might have been inspired by Edinburgh or Balmoral Castle across the pond he saw when he was a child. His fairy tale fantasy was supposed to make him money, as he was charging people to climb up the three flights to enjoy the view.

Sadly, this entrepreneur didn't get rich. Everyone knows that if you go up to the top of the Avenues area or Capitol Hill, you can get stunning views for free. Anderson had to board up the tower for a time, but it was later reopened free to the public until it was torn down in 1932 due to neglect and vandalism. The only remnant of the tourist attraction is the plaque and a small monument made from the original granite.

It's worth a walk to Anderson's monument on a clear, smog-free day. You can look directly across at the Capitol building and further to the Great Salt Lake, down into Memory Grove/City Creek Canyon, and south to the high rises downtown. The Anderson Tower Memorial sits next to the Tower Hill Condominiums just east of 303 A St. in Salt Lake City.

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