Darwin Knudsen. Click photo for larger image.
In l878 he built a great flour mill here on the property I still occupy at 27l5 East 6200 South. It ran for 30 years, making some of the finest flours, and perhaps some of the first pearled barley west of the Mississippi. It was built on these four wooded acres bordering Cotttonwood Creek. For most of my 73 years I have enjoyed this unique wooded "paradise." Unique for the sight and sound of clear rippling water, for its cool, motionless air, and for nature's vast array of secluded beauty all around.
As a youngster I traveled to Holladay by horse and buggy, when Holladay Boulevard was a narrow, and often muddy, dirt road. We left the horse and buggy at the Andrus "livery" barn on 4800 So., just south of the present light in the center of Holladay. Then we boarded the street car which waited on tracks nearby. I would jump on and race through the empty car pushing back the reversible bamboo woven seats so we could face forward as it changed direction to go back where it came from -- up town. Rarely did we see an automobile, but horse-drawn buggies and wagons were plentiful and the way of life, though slower, seemed far more real and vital than many of our vain, pretentious ways today.
Even before my teens I was roaming the woods from 6200 So. to 4800 So. and from Highland Drive to the foothills. In fact, the very boundaries of the proposed city of Cottonwood enclose what was our "Sherwood Forest" where we fished with our hands in Cottonwood Creek, hunted quail and pheasants with flippers, trapped skunks and muskrats, and experienced hair-raising and life-threatening adventures that even those of Tom Sawyer, in all his glory, could hardly surpass.
I remember when Knudsen's Grove, a popular "camp ground" with nine sleeping cabins and a large screened-in summer dining room, bordered Cottonwood Creek where Sim's Bed and Breakfast place now stands. Grandfather established it in l912, and merchants and others from Salt Lake would escape the heat and city hubbub by driving out to the cool, quiet serenity of the birches and cottonwoods in the "Grove." Board and room was $l.50 per day, or $9.00 per week.
Knudsen's Grove was the forerunner of Knudsen's Inn, which was first built in l9l9. It was most famous for its "toasted buttered-bun hamburgers." It burned down in l930 but was soon rebuilt around grandfather's stone pillars and stone base which had survived the fire. The name "Knudsen's Corner" derived out of, and long after, the "Grove" and the "Inn."
About l9l0 Salt Lake City appropriated the water used to run the mill, which terminated the mill operation. Partly out of a love of the soil, as well as from necessity, Dad turned to gardening and for the next 30 years raised strawberries on the millstead and acted as caretaker for the seven acre Castle estate. It was backbreaking work– l6 hours a day in the summer for only a meager income. I owe him an incalculable debt of gratitude for dedicating his life of seemingly endless toil to saving the legacy and site of the Knudsen Flour Mill.
And now as I reflect on the ever more-pleasant memories and the ever-changing scenes that I have witnessed, I doubt that anyone has been more consciously enriched or made to feel more highly favored than I, by living in this idyllic spot we call "Cottonwood."
It all began on February 26th, 1858, when my great grandfather Rasmus Christian Knudsen joined the Mormon Church in Denmark, and later came to Utah in l864. After building various mills for Brigham Young, and others, he built his own flour mill at 27l5 East, 6200 South, in l878 in Cottonwood.
His son Rudolph, being of an enterprising nature, established "Knudsen’s Grove" about one half mile southeast of the corner at 6200 South, Holladay Blvd. in l912, a popular campsite with nine sleeping cabins and a creek side dining room, which thrived for ten years. In l919 Rudolph built the east half of Knudsen’s Inn, then the west half in l922. It was widely known for its toasted buttered-bun hamburgers and other toasted sandwiches.
Grandpa sold the Inn to the Dyers in l927 and it became "Dyer’s Inn" for some 20 years. In 1947, under Bill and Edythe Smith, Smith’s Inn continued its popular patronage until it became "The Heather" in the 1970's, owned and operated by Skip Eatchel; he added a second level so that it resembled an old Scottish Lodge. In l988 Theus Webb, Skip’s financial backer, took over the Heather and operated it as the "Bridlewood Restaurant" until 1994, when Mark Eaton and Associates greatly enlarged and redesigned it into the "Tuscany," an elegant Italian restaurant, inevitably expanding and commercializing what was once a quaint, quiet, country "lunch-stand."
During the early years of the changing ownership and appearance of Knudsen’s Inn, the "millstead," one block west, had also changed dramatically, and I, having purchased my two brother’s interests in l966, began in earnest to make a fourth generation contribution to improving and beautifying the old four-acre mill site. Grandpa Knudsen had already torn down the mill and barn by l922. By 1930, Dad and we three sons had filled up the mill basement, 40' x 50' square and l6' deep with rocks, hauled on "stone boats," from every crevice and corner of the rock-strewn land. And by 1958, Dad had slavishly cleared, leveled, and farmed for some 30 years, three quarters of the ground, growing strawberries, orchard, and a garden.
It remained for me to build a large Dutch barn, in1966 – plant a large horse pasture and new orchard – rock up the millrace walls and construct a decorative 11' water wheel – create a large barbecue picnic area along the stream – tear down the old home in 1977 and build a new one in its place – build a rock wall along the front property line – and, at last in 1995, to recover our long lost millstone, missing for 46 years, and set it in the rock wall as a lasting monument to Rasmus Christian Knudsen, to whom I, of all of his posterity, am most indebted and shall be eternally grateful for this wonderful legacy.
History of Rasmus Christian Knudsen