In Search of the Toronto Cave – by Joe Toronto

My cousin-once-removed Sylvia Marshall, commented on my blog wondering if the Toronto Cave still exists? Most Torontos have heard about when Giuseppe Taranto lived there and herded cattle for Brigham Young, but is it just lore or is there really a “Toronto Cave”? Sylvia wrote the following…

“Today in the travel section of the newspaper was an article about an annual bison roundup on Antelope Island… That reminded me of the stories of Giuseppe running cattle there…”

… and got my exploring instincts going by also emailing me:

“From directions on some of the other websites we found, we tried to figure out where the Toronto Cave was on Google Earth. It looks like it is in an area with a lot of mining activity, and I wonder if it is even still there. Have you ever been to see it yourself? If so, how recently? I thought it was interesting that in Giuseppe’s book, in the section on Eleanor, some of the children were scared/fascinated by the tales of the Indians that the cave had been a burial ground–and several of the website’s said that sometime in the sixties or seventies they did an archaeological dig there, and found many Indian relics from 4,000-7,000 years old.

Well, there’s enough tantalizing lore there to excite the exploring fantasies of any self professed adventurer of which I am one. Thereupon, your faithful and trusty intrepid blogger-explorer set out to find said mythical cave and create a photo video log/blog of said journey. But where to start? It had been years since I’d even been in the area and my memory was vague. A couple of photo’s I found among my mother Helen Toronto’s things seemed to verify the existence of the cave and of a historical marker.

 

1948 Installation of Historical Marker Plaque

1948 Installation of Historical Marker Plaque

 

Toronto Cave circa 1948

Toronto Cave circa 1948

In my quest for the cave, I thought the best place to start was Giuseppe’s History, written in 1983 by Jim Toronto which says there really is a cave:

“There was a large cave in the mountain side which was used as a stable for horses. This cave, dedicated in later years as a Utah historical landmark and still known today as “Toronto Cave,” afforded him an ideal place for cattle raising: it was large enough at that time to permit the hay stacks to be built in front of the cave opening as a means for protecting the animals from the storms. A log cabin was also built nearby, and Joseph and his family lived there during the summer, moving back to Salt Lake City for the winter months.”

but it doesn’t say where the cave is. It only gives this scant evidence of it’s location:

“One of Joseph’s first endeavors after his marriage was to raise stock on Church Island, but due to lack of adequate pasture there he moved his herds to Point of West Mountain, later called Garfield.”

Hmmm…. Garfield, huh? Following Sylvia’s lead, and enlisting the vast technological resources of the modern age I was easily able to locate on Google Maps, a clearly labeled “Garfield” near the Point of West Mountain.

Garfield located in Google Maps

Garfield located in Google Maps

 

I decided to take a virtual drive around this Garfield town using Google Maps-Street View (there’s only one road, the main highway in Garfield) and amazingly and miraculously I came upon this interesting historical marker sign on the right side of the road.

Historical Marker sign located in Google Maps "Street View"

Historical Marker sign located in Google Maps "Street View"

 

With this tantalizing information, I enlisted the assistance of my three faithful sidekicks in adventure, David, Daniel and Jonathan, who are always willing and cheerful in assisting me in my assorted blog pursuits (but only when promised food afterwards). We then all struck out for Garfield by heading North from Draper on I-15 towards S.R. 201 which heads West from the I-15 / I-80 spaghetti bowl interchange.

As you approach the spaghetti bowl interchange, be sure to get in the correct middle lane to turn off to the right so that you can get on to S.R. 201 (The old west side route of 21st South). You want Exit 305 which is only a quarter mile past Exit 304. Exit 304 is for I-80 Eastbound and will take you to Cheyenne Wyoming. Don’t wanna go there! Since the two exits are so close to each other, the middle right lane is best because as soon as you get off on 305, the correct exit, you’re going to take an immediate left hand exit to head west on 201 so be ready for it.

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Once you’re on S.R. 201, it’s a straight shot west to Garfield. A few miles past the 7200 West light, the last one, and as you approach the Point of West Mountain, you’ll be in the thick of Kennecott mining country. This is where you start watching out for the notorious Google Street View historical marker sign. It’s pretty obscure so go slowly and keep your eyes peeled. If you see this gigantic building with the gigantic sign on it off in the distance to the right, you’re almost there.

Zoom shot of Big Mining Building with Big Sign in the distance.

Zoom shot of Big Mining Building with Big Sign in the distance.

 

Roadside historical marker sign

Roadside historical marker sign

Once you find the marker, there’s plenty of shoulder to park on. If you don’t get overexcited like I did and stop and park immediately, about a hundred yards past the marker is a little paved turnout where you can park. Now this is where the adventure really begins because the sign points off the side of the road but the road is all fenced in…

View to the right roadside near Historical Marker sign.

View to the right roadside near Historical Marker sign.

 
… and you are faced with scary challenges like *this*!!!

First Scary Obstacle Challenge.

First Scary Obstacle Challenge.

 
Not to be deterred, my comrades and I struggled onward.

Overcoming the First Obstacle Challenge.

Overcoming the First Obstacle Challenge.

 

Giuseppe's great great grandkids endangering his future great great great grandkids.

Giuseppe's great great grandkids endangering his future great great great grandkids.

I’m pretty sure that old Giuseppe was pretty unhappy when three of his great great grandsons put their posterity at risk climbing the fence, but they had no choice. It was either the spikey chain link fence or the barbed wire fence beside it.

After climbing down a steep embankment we found ourselves on an old abandoned road. We knew it was abandoned because on one end it leads straight into a telephone pole in front of the steep embankment and in the other direction it had all these weeds and wild sunflower hazards to dodge.

Abandoned road leading to telephone pole and embankment.

Abandoned road leading to telephone pole and embankment.

 

Weeds and scary giant wild sunflower obstacles.

Weeds and scary giant wild sunflower obstacles.

As we pressed forward though these obstacles, just like Ulysses of old, we were soon beset upon by a gigantic wild serpent creature striking out attempting to kill us and thwart our progress towards our goal.

Giant serpent in full attack mode trying to kill us.

Giant serpent in full attack mode trying to kill us.

 

Yep. Full attack mode.

Yep. Full attack mode.

It really was trying to kill us.

(No animals were harmed in the filming of this video.)

But barely able to escape from this beast-creature with our lives, we forged ahead knowing we were so close to our goal. We slogged onward for nearly a half a mile…

Pressing onward.

Pressing onward.

 

Further down the road.

Further down the road.

…until we finally began to behold the vision of our dreams, “The Cave”, peeking out from behind the bushes off to the left.

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At this point in our adventure, through the miracle of modern technology, we’re going to shift into full real life video mode to bring to you the full thrill of experiencing the mythical “Toronto Cave”.

We also discovered the location of the old 1948 historical marker off to the right of the cave entrance. The old photo was right after all. It really hadn’t been doctored to throw us off. But the marker was gone. Where oh where could it be?

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We shortly began the long journey back to our vehicle having experienced the thrill of a lifetime.

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As we again climbed the posterity threatening fence to get back onto the highway, a little more searching of the immediate vicinity made known unto us the reason for the turnout for parking. The missing Historical Marker was not lost to mankind after all! It had only been relocated next to the highway! Oh what joy! Our mission was complete. Absolute confirmation that this was in fact the very place we had been searching for.

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The 1948 Historical Marker now relocated by the side of the highway.

The 1948 Historical Marker now relocated by the side of the highway.

 
As the sun began to set in the west and as the shadows lengthened, we looked back on the Toronto cave with a great sense of accomplishment and nostalgia.

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Yes, Sylvia, the Toronto Cave does exist. And it is indeed a marvel to behold!

The Historic Toronto Cave.

The Historic Toronto Cave.

 
Oct. 11, 2009 Update:

Sylvia Marshall wrote me again suggesting that I locate the cave exactly on Google Earth so that future explorers can easily find the cave. The five following photos are screenshots of Google Earth progressively zooming closer in. The final screenshot shows Highway S.R. 201 and the cave only about 3 tenths of a mile off to the right. It also shows the location of the Historical Marker and the turnout for parking. Click on each screenshot below to get a full size image with all of the visible details and instructions.

Happy Exploring.

toronto cave 1

toronto cave 2

toronto cave 3

toronto cave 4

toronto cave 5

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2 Responses to In Search of the Toronto Cave – by Joe Toronto

  1. Barbara Morrell says:

    Wow, what an odyssey! Thanks for the photos, except of the snake. I remember going to the cave when I was just a child. I’d have no idea of how to find it now. Joe thanks for your efforts to preserve family history.

  2. Deserae says:

    So I have some news for you. You guys ran into a gophersnake-not a rattlesnake. http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=pitucate

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