Lehi pioneer village proves big draw

Published: Friday, Oct. 9 2015 12:52 a.m. MDT

Kathleen and Bud Lott pose for a photo at their Lehi ranch, where they have a collection of old homestead structures.     (Associated Press) Kathleen and Bud Lott pose for a photo at their Lehi ranch, where they have a collection of old homestead structures. (Associated Press)

LEHI — If you are sneaky, you might catch a glimpse of a large, fat beaver sunning on an overturned tree stump at the entry of Hardway Ranch in Lehi.

Past the beaver keeping watch at the entry, visitors travel down a narrow dirt road to another time. Parked along the side of the pathway are old threshers, rakes and other equipment — the historical kind of devices that horses use to pull.

"They did all this by hand. They didn't have balers. See this right here, that is a mowing machine," property owner Bud Lott told the Daily Herald, pointing to a rusty contraption. "They would cut with that, they would go with a side delivery rake, and break it into rows, and then they would use this dump rake to come up and make little piles, and then dump it so we would have piles to pick up."

Bud and his wife, Kathleen Lott, bought the property for the ranch in 1996 for $120,000.

"They thought we were crazy at the time when we bought it for spending that much money," Kathleen said.

They had 3.5 acres with homes built all around its perimeter so they sold the land and bought six acres in southwest Lehi.

"There was nothing there when we bought it except the outhouse," she said.

That outhouse has got to be the cleanest outhouse this side of the Mississippi.

"We keep it clean, and it's not used very much," Kathleen said, chuckling.

While not many use the outhouse, other small buildings they have brought onto the property give the place the feel of a pioneer village. So popular with friends, the ranch is well used by church groups, committees, clubs, scouts, schools and other families. Three years ago, the couple began recording who came to stay there.

Bud Lott moved all of the sheds there by putting each on telephone poles and then pulling the poles and shed by tractor.

"The poles were rounded and by the time they got down there they were flat on the bottom," Kathleen said.

Their first purchase was the Grant Kirkham granary that was situated across from Lehi Roller Mills where the Bank of American Fork branch building is today.

Farmers used wooden granaries to store grain for their animals. The square sheds look like they have been turned inside out with the framing on the exterior of the small building, and they are built up on wood foundations about a foot off the ground. Pieces of wood, about one foot square, are nailed outside to secure the corners. Inside the building, the wood planks are flush with each board.

"Instead of round silos they would use this kind of thing," Kathleen said. "They are 100 years old or more, I'm sure."

Another granary was found elsewhere in Lehi. The structures have been transformed from granaries to pioneer shops. One is a tinsmith's shop, another is a blacksmith's, and yet another is a general store, although the market is not an old granary and has a loft.

Outside the building is a 1915 shop sign that reads Johnson's Market.

"That's my grandpa," she said. "I love it because it belonged to my grandpa, it's family."

Owner Charles Johnson, Kathleen's grandfather, had his market at Railroad Street back when every LDS ward area had a general store.

Both husband and wife have a history in Lehi that goes back six generations. Kathleen Lott is a descendent of the Abel Evans family and Bud Lott is a descendent of the David Evans family. Unrelated, both Evanses immigrated to America from Wales about the same time, arriving in Lehi in the mid-1800s.

Kathleen said she first noticed her future husband when he was 14 and she was 11 years old. He was collecting tithes at their home on his horse Sob. It's a name he hesitates sharing nowadays.

"She never knew for years what his name meant," Bud said, smiling.

It's something that Kathleen still laughs about.

"I was young and innocent," she said. It wasn't until much later in life she understood that the horse's name was an acronym characterizing the nature of the beast.

The Hardway Ranch got its name using Bud Lott's same country humor.

"It's too big to use a shovel, too small to use a tractor, so we have to do everything the hard way," he said.

As children, they lived in the same LDS ward and they went to school together.

"We started dating when we were 14, but we don't tell our grandkids," she said with a twinkle in her eye. "We went to a lot of school dances and everything, and had a lot of friends we dated with."

They married when she was 18 and Bud was 21. Bud was a bricklayer at Geneva Steel relining the blast furnaces as the brick turned to ash. He did that for about a decade and then began working for Hercules, now Alliance, as its transportation supervisor. After 32 years with Hercules, he retired.

They have four daughters and one son, 16 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Kathleen Lott was a homemaker with five children at home and taught 4-H in sewing and photography. She not only sewed her children's clothing but she bottled produce.

"Then it was a lot cheaper. You could get a bushel of peaches for a few dollars," she said. "We produced and raised our own beef, we pretty well ate what we raised."

Times were different. Neighbors would walk to where they wanted to go and there was usually a store within walking distance. They did travel beyond their front porch going several times to Disneyland.

"It is a different world now," she said. "All our neighbors stayed home and raised kids. We'd go to the park, and you know, go to Saratoga. We'd have horses and the camper. We'd go out to West Canyon."

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