Oh the buzzin’ of the bees
In the cigarette trees
Near the soda water fountain
At the lemonade springs
Where the bluebird sings
On the Big Rock Candy mountain
If you’re anywhere near as old as I am, you may recognize this song, attributed to Harry “Haywire Mac” McClintock and made famous in a 1950s recording by Burl Ives. Not long after the release of the song in 1928, some local wags places a sign at the base if a colorful mountain in Southern Utah, naming it “Big Rock Candy Mountain.” They also placed a sign next to a nearby spring proclaiming it “Lemonade Springs.” The names stuck, and the mythical Big Rock Candy Mountain of the song became one of the most recognized spots in the state.
So why am I telling you all this? Because the Big Rock Candy Mountain was a wonderful part of my childhood. I grew up an hour north of the mountain, and, as a kid, it was one of my favorite places to go. Not only was the hiking fun, but they had a campground, and a restaurant connected to a store that sold little bags of honest-to-goodness rock candy—the “rocks” were jelly beans, but they were made to look like real pebbles.
Outside there were some animal pens with a cougar named Whiffy, a pair of lynxes named Sniffy and Spiffy, and some coyotes that would howl when the lady who ran the place came out and howled with them. Once when we were there, they had a mother porcupine with babies. I got to hold one of the babies—their quills don’t harden until they get older. Looking back I realize it wasn’t a good situation for the animals, but as a little girl I was fascinated by them.
On Easter weekend my parents and their friends would reserve a picnic area for all their families. It was so much fun, chasing around the mountain with a big gang of kids, rolling eggs down the slope and feasting on hotdogs and watermelon while the grownups visited. The Sevier River ran along the road, and in the winter a wide section called Horseshoe Bend froze over—Great for sledding and ice skating. I am smiling as I write this.
Did you have a favorite place to go as a child? Tell us about it.
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