Utah Pioneer Stories

The Folly of Funk's Lake!!!

The Folly of Funk's Lake


Funk’s Lake
(Palisade State Park)

Palisade State Park is one of the most popular resorts in central Utah and the story of its creation is an interesting one.

In about 1873 Daniel B. Funk who was one of the original settlers of Sterling, saw the need for a pioneer recreational area. He requested that Brigham Young negotiate the purchase of land that was used as a favorite camping place by the Indian Chief Arapeen and his tribe.

Daniel’s plan was to fill this small valley with water to make a lake. The Indians and others got a good chuckle over the plan requiring water to “run up hill.” The Indians may have agreed to the sale of the property just to see if Daniel could actually pull it off.

Daniel went ahead with his plan, skirting a rock outcrop with a flume and finally filling the valley from Six Mile Creek. There they planted trees, built a dance pavilion, boat docks, bath houses and cabins in the quiet and peaceful valley. At one time there was even a small steamboat called “Eagle” that plied the lake.

Tragedy struck the area communities in 1878 when rough water capsized a launch loaded with youth enjoying a Sunday school party. There were 13 youth ages 9 to 19 aboard, mostly from Ephraim. Eleven of its panic-stricken passengers drowned.

Eventually the popularity of the lake increased and Daniel cut and stored ice in the winter and sold a heaping plate of ice cream for 5 cents during the summer. After Daniel’s death the lake fell into disuse and disrepair.

The 1920’s brought an increased interest in outdoor recreation and the lake was restored. By 1923 the lake had electric lights, a baseball diamond, and the outdoor dance pavilion with a maple floor, three rowboats, and a six-passenger launch. During the winter months it made for great ice skating. The park was renamed Palisade Park in 1929.

Outdoor dance pavilions were extremely popular in the 1920’s. Dancing was always a favorite form of recreation for Mormon pioneers but the new invention of the automobile made it possible to travel long distances in shorter time and the pavilions became remarkably popular. These pavilions brought people from many towns together to enjoy this great recreation.

The pavilions were relatively cheap and required nothing more than a vacant field, a concrete or hardwood floor, and inexpensive lattice work enclosures. Virtually every town had a dance pavilion. During the summer months there was a dance in at least one pavilion five or six nights a week. It was a favorite activity for the youth for many years.

In the 1970’s, the park was renamed Palisade State Park and is now maintained by the State Parks. Its elevation is 5900 feet and offers picnicking, camping, boating, swimming, fishing and a 9-hole golf course in a lovely mountainside setting.

Daniel Funk’s dream not only came about, but is still providing great recreation for the local communities as well as the hundreds of visitors who enjoy the quiet valley in the mountains of the Wasatch Plateau. (Some data taken from “The Other 49’ers” by Albert C. T. Antrei and Ruth D. Scow)