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How Liberty Park has changed in the last 142 years

Posted at 6:52 AM, Jun 14, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — This weekend Salt Lake City’s Liberty Park is turning 142 and they are holding a party to celebrate the milestone on Sunday, June 16.

Park rangers who work to keep the the iconic area clean and helps guests took a look at what has changed in the last 142 years.

“We have a carousel at a Ferris-Wheel and swings and then they rental paddle boats,” Park Ranger Cameron Rose explained while giving FOX 13 News a tour.

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“It just it just has everything,” they said. “It's 80 acres of beautiful trees and lush grass and ponds and sports fields and pavilions and a pool.”

Tracy Aviary is probably the park’s most famous attraction, but there’s a rich history few people know about.

It was originally a grist mill and farm owned by Isaac Chase. The mill remains the oldest commercial building still standing in Utah.

“Originally, it was owned by Isaac Chase,” Cameron said, “And then it got transferred to Brigham Young… and then Salt Lake City bought the property from Brigham Young in 1881.”

One of the biggest pieces of Liberty Park’s history has been forgotten. Hogle Zoo’s first home was in the park for 19 years.

“There was a zoo here in the beginning,” Cameron explained. “We had an elephant here. We had bears, we had mountain lions, and they kept escaping and so they finally moved it up immigration canyon.”

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According to the Salt Lake City Police Department an officer was mauled by a lion while on duty at the park. They say he had a habit of patting the lions’ heads while doing his rounds. One grabbed him and he later died from his injuries.

Park rangers are a new addition, but they are becoming more common

“We have 18 rangers who patrol throughout our city,” Nick Frederick, The Salt Lake City Park Ranger Program Manager explained. “We have four main hubs, Liberty Park, Jordan Park, Fairmont and Pioneer, as well as having rangers in the foothills.”

Nick says the rangers are here to help, direct visitors, and handle issues that don’t require law enforcement.

The party celebrating 142 years is this Sunday, June 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the northwest corner of the park. They’ll have walking tours, giveaways, park bingo and more.