Jump to content

Old Ephraim

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Old Ephraim
SpeciesGrizzly bear
DiedAugust 22, 1923
Nation fromUnited States
Named afterFolkloric name for the grizzly bear

Old Ephraim (also known as Old Three Toes by shepherds due to a deformity on one foot[1]) was 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.

The name "Old Ephraim" (or "Ol' Ephraim") had been a term popularized in the 19th-century American West to refer to the grizzly bear,[2] and was used in frontier folklore to refer to specific animals. It appears as the name of a bear in a story by P. T. Barnum.[3]

Frank Clark and Old Ephraim[edit]

The grizzly bear from the Cache National Forest 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)[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.[1] 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.


Though Clark had attempted to kill the bear since 1914, he did not succeed until 1923. On the night of August 21, Clark was awakened by the tremendous roars of Old Ephraim, which had been caught in a trap Clark had set earlier in a wallow just below his camp. Clark grabbed his .25-35 rifle (very small and underpowered for such a massive grizzly)[citation needed] and he and his dog set out down the ravine towards the wallow. Clark met the enraged massive grizzly with the huge bear trap on one of its front paws dragging the very large, heavy log which Clark had connected to the trap by a large chain.[6][7][full citation needed] Clark shot five rounds from his .25-35 carbine rifle but the bear did not go down, so Clark fled further up the ravine back towards his camp. Clark's dog harassed Old Ephraim which Clark credited to perhaps saving his life. As the bear was so near his camp, wounded and enraged, Clark spent the remainder of the night with his dog on the side of the ridge above his camp. He listened as the great bear vocalized through the night and eventually fell silent. With the first morning light Clark investigated and found the great bear laying dead near his camp.[6][7][full citation needed] Clark described killing Old Ephraim as "the hardest of them [the bears] all". He later expressed remorse for having to do it.


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.[1][5] Most of the remains were eventually taken by tourists as souvenirs.[5][8]

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.[9][10] Affixed to the monument are two plaques, one with a poem that reads:[11]

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.[1][9][12]


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.[13][14]

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.[13]

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.[citation needed]

A lifesize bronze statue of Old Ephraim stands along U.S. Route 89 (Washington Street) as it enters Montpelier, Idaho from the west. The original sculpture, installed in 2002, was replaced in 2014 by a new sculpture depicting Old Ephraim fighting against a bear trap.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Clarke, Linda Weaver (October 27, 2008). "Old Ephraim, the Ten-Foot Grizzly Bear". American Chronicle. Archived from the original on 27 May 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2010.
  2. ^ Brown Gary, The Great Bear Almanac, The Lyons Press, New York, 1993. P 28.
  3. ^ Barnum, Phineas Taylor (1896). Forest and Jungle, Or, Thrilling Adventures in All Quarters of the Globe: An Illustrated History of the Animal Kingdom. Werner.
  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. ^ a b Mr. Gerald Jones: Personal friend of Clark's and longtime "Old Ephraim storyteller"
  7. ^ a b LDS Adventure Stories
  8. ^ "Stokes Nature Center: History & Lore of Logan Canyon Podcast Series: Old Ephraim" (PDF). logannature.org. Stokes Nature Center. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
  9. ^ a b Boss, Peggy (17 May 1978). "Old Ephriam Returns After 60 Years in Washington". Student Life, Utah State University. Retrieved 9 January 2010.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Fleming, John (2007). "Old Ephraim monument detail - Nephi J. Bott Poem". Utah State University Archives. Retrieved 9 January 2010.
  12. ^ "Old Ephraim". RoadsideAmerica.com. Archived from the original on 25 February 2008. Retrieved 7 January 2010.
  13. ^ a b Bromka, Gregg. "Old Ephraim's Grave Trail". Utah.com. Utah Travel Industry. Retrieved 9 January 2010.
  14. ^ "Old Ephraim's Grave Trail Map". Utah.com. Utah Travel Industry. Retrieved 9 January 2010.

External links[edit]