Utah December 03, 2018
The Forgotten Utah Gravesite That No One Ever Visits
If you’re interested in Utah history, you might enjoy walking through the Beehive State’s quiet, peaceful cemeteries to pay your respects to those who’ve passed on. To go way back in time, you can visit the
heartbreaking little cemetery in the ghost town of Grafton, and for a baffling mystery, you can visit the gravestone of Lilly E. Gray, whose headstone reads, “Victim of the Beast 666.”
Here’s a gravestone with a legend that many Utahns have never heard, and few people know about this gravesite. Do you know about Old Ephraim?
Old Ephraim was a grizzly bear who roamed the Cache National Forest during the early 1900s. He was a huge bear who stood nearly 10 feet tall and weighed more than 1,000 pounds.
Sightings of the bear were common in a large range from Soda Springs, Idaho to Logan. By 1911 Old Ephraim had settled into Logan Canyon.
Unfortunately, he developed a taste for sheep, and began terrorizing herds all throughout the area. He became so good at killing sheep that it was rumored that he'd killed more than 150 during the summer, slaughtering over 15 in just one night.
Old Ephraim was easy to track because one of his front paws was deformed and had only three toes. A man named Frank Clark, who had ownership in one of the large sheep operations in the area, began to track the grizzly in 1914.
Frank set tracks all over the area. He'd go back to check them, only to find them sprung, with nothing inside. The bear continued to outwit Frank all throughout the summer. Despite Frank's best efforts, Old Ephraim continued to evade the sheepherder.
On August 21, 1923, Frank awoke to a large roar. The grizzly had finally become caught in a bear trap, but managed to claw down the eight-foot tree the trap was chained to, and work himself loose as Frank fired five shots at him.
It took all five bullets to fell the huge bear, but Old Ephraim finally died of his wounds with a final shot to his head. Frank Clark, who had hunted and killed grizzly bears for years, was said to be distraught when he finally ended Old Ephraim's life. He told a reporter, "Was I happy? No, and if I had to do it over I wouldn’t kill him. ... I could see the suffering in his eyes as he tried to climb that bank."
The bear was buried in Logan Canyon, but was later dug up, and his skull was sent to the Smithsonian. It was later returned, and is now on display at Utah State University. Boy Scouts installed a memorial to Old Ephraim in 1966, which still stands today.
Part of the memorial is this ode, which reads, "Old Ephraim, Old Ephraim, Your deeds were so wrong yet we build you this marker and sing you this song. To the king of the forest so mighty and tall, we salute you, old Ephraim the king of them all - Nephi J. Bott."
You'll find the gravesite of Old Ephraim on the Old Ephraim trail. Take the Temple Fork dirt road and follow the signs. You'll find a small parking lot, and the gravesite is just 20 yards or so down the trail.
Have you ever visited the gravesite of Old Ephraim? We’d love to hear what you think about this legendary bear!