Old Ephraim

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Old Ephraim
Ursus arctos Dessin ours brun grand.jpg
Species Grizzly bear
Sex Male
Died August 22, 1923
Nation from United States

Old Ephraim or Ol' Ephraim is a term popularized in the 19th-century American West to refer to grizzly bears.[1] As well as describing the archetypal grizzly bear, the name has also been used in frontier folklore to refer to specific bears, most notably Old Ephraim (known as "Old Three Toes" by sheepherders due to a deformity on one foot[2]), a very large grizzly bear that roamed the Cache National Forest in Idaho and Utah from circa 1911 until his death on August 22, 1923. He was named after another grizzly bear in California described in a story by P. T. Barnum.

Frank Clark and Old Ephraim[edit]

The grizzly bear from the Cache National Forest that eventually became known as "Old Ephraim" was first identified by its distinctive tracks. The bear lived within a large wilderness from as far north as Soda Springs, Idaho to as far south as Weber County, Utah, before settling in Logan Canyon, about 20 miles east of Logan, Utah.

Frank Clark (born 1879 in Cherry Creek, Idaho)[3][4] was a part owner of the Ward Clark Sheep Company since his arrival there in July 1911. During his first summer in the Cache National Forest, Clark counted 154 adult domestic sheep that had been killed by bears in the area.[5]

In 1914, Frank Clark set out to stop Old Ephraim. He set many traps in Old Ephraim's favorite wallows, but the traps were always removed, un-sprung, or flung away.[2] Although Clark seldom saw the bear, dead sheep around the herd indicated its presence.[5] Despite Clark's efforts, Old Ephraim killed more and more sheep without being stopped. He is said to have once killed 50 sheep at a time.

Death[edit]

Though Clark had planned to kill the bear since 1914, he did not succeed until 1923. On the night of August 21, Clark woke to "a roar and groan", and took his gun to investigate. At the time, Clark said he was unaware it was Old Ephraim. After several unsuccessful shots, Clark finally found the bear, which had been caught in a trap Clark had set earlier. Clark shot five rounds from a .25-35 carbine rifle but the bear did not go down, so Clark started heading for Logan, about 20 miles away. After about 20 yards he turned around to find the bear being harassed by his dog, so he went closer and shot Old Ephraim in the head. It reportedly took all five rounds to kill the bear. Clark described killing Old Ephraim as "the hardest of them [the bears] all". He later expressed remorse for having to do it.

Memorial[edit]

Old Ephraim was skinned and buried, but was later dug up by Boy Scout Troop 43, which sent the bear's skull to the Smithsonian. According to Clark, a pile of stones was erected by Boy Scouts over the bear's remains.[2][5] Most of the remains were eventually taken by tourists as souvenirs.[5][6]

Later, an 11-foot-tall (3.4 m) stone monument designed, lettered, and erected by Max Arthur and Howard Jorgensen was placed at the grave site. This memorial was officially dedicated on September 23, 1966.[7][8] Affixed to the monument are two plaques, one with a poem that reads:[9]

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

At the time of his death, Old Ephraim stood 10 feet (3.0 m) tall and weighed 1,100 pounds (500 kg). His skull was sent to The Smithsonian, where it was identified as a grizzly bear. It was eventually returned from the Smithsonian and put on display in the Special Collections section of the Utah State University library in Logan, Utah.[2][7][10]

Legacy[edit]

The Old Ephraim Trail is a popular "fat tire" bike trail in the Logan area. It is a 20-mile loop with almost 3,000 feet of vertical gain, and is intended for intermediate or advanced riders.[11][12]

The loop starts with several miles of moderate climbing up Cowley Canyon, and proceeds uphill to the upper trailhead of Ricks Canyon. The loop circles north through aspen groves and meadows. After passing Old Ephraim's grave it descends to the Right Fork of Logan River, after which there is one more sizable climb. At the top of this climb, you can see the Mt. Naomi Wilderness and the terraced cliffs of Logan Canyon. The loop ends on the single-track Willow Creek Trail.[11]

The Bear 100 Mile Endurance Run, starting in the Logan area and ending in Fish Haven, Idaho, is a 100-mile ultramarathon through the Wasatch and Bear River Ranges. Though considered one of the most difficult 100-mile races, it is also considered one of the most scenic, taking advantage of the fall foliage of September. Male and female overall winners receive the Old Ephraim award.

A lifesize bronze statue of Old Ephraim stands along U.S. Route 89 (Washington Street) as it enters Montpelier, Idaho from the west.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brown Gary, The Great Bear Almanac, The Lyons Press, New York, 1993. P 28.
  2. ^ a b c d Clarke, Linda Weaver (October 27, 2008). "Old Ephraim, the Ten-Foot Grizzly Bear". American Chronicle. Retrieved 7 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "History of Old Ephraim, Utah". onlineutah.com. Online Utah. Retrieved June 13, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Biographical History of Frank Clark". digital.lib.usu.edu. Utah State University. Retrieved June 13, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d As told by Frank Clark. "Old Ephraim". Utah State University Archives. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  6. ^ "Stokes Nature Center: History & Lore of Logan Canyon Podcast Series: Old Ephraim" (PDF). logannature.org. Stokes Nature Center. Retrieved June 13, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Boss, Peggy (17 May 1978). "Old Ephriam Returns After 60 Years in Washington". Student Life, Utah State University. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  8. ^ DuHadway, Kate (July 9, 2011). "Final resting spot of legendary grizzly 'Old Ephraim' worth a trip". hjnews.com. The Herald Journal. Retrieved June 13, 2012. 
  9. ^ Fleming, John (2007). "Old Ephraim monument detail - Nephi J. Bott Poem". Utah State University Archives. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  10. ^ "Old Ephraim". RoadsideAmerica.com. Retrieved 7 January 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Bromka, Gregg. "Old Ephraim's Grave Trail". Utah.com. Utah Travel Industry. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  12. ^ "Old Ephraim's Grave Trail Map". Utah.com. Utah Travel Industry. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 

External links[edit]