Play "Password" in Utah's rural areas and don't be surprised if the word "farming" calls up the word "rocks." Utah's farmers have a history of battling boulders to get the crops planted.
But associating the Davis County town of "Farmington" with "rocks" is a bigger stretch, though city officials hope that will be changing.Farmington is fast becoming Utah's "city set in stone."
"Better to be a city of stone than a city of stonies," quips Max Forbush, Farmington's city planner. "The truth is we really have tried to develop a motif of rock and stone here. We eventually would like to see the center of town have a quaint, traditional look to it."
Adds Mayor Robert W. Arbuckle: "If you look back over the city master plans you'll find many people have tried to create a pastoral sense to the town over the years - larger lots, tree-lined streets. The stone and rock is a part of it. All buildings in Farmington don't have to be made of rock, of course - I say that because a neighbor of mine sells bricks for a living - but we are seeing a lot more rock structures these days."
And, needless to say, the image of a "stone city" is being encouraged. The notion calls to mind the faithful who build on rock, not sand, for instance. And it was the bright little pig who built a house of something more substantial than straw or sticks. Expressions such as "solid as a rock" and "Rock of Ages" all come to mind.
Part of the push for this "new" traditional look has to do with the town's upcoming centennial. Farmington turns 100 in 1992. And the recent "stone age" got a boost when a local grade school compiled a history of the town that featured the old stone buildings.
But you can probably thank the first pioneers for getting the "motif" going - out of necessity. Floods and washes had unearthed so many stones around Farmington that the first settlers naturally used them in construction. It was easier than hauling the things away.
Today, visitors will see a fine mix of "original" and "new and improved" stonework.
In downtown Farmington the modern LDS chapel, fire station, Smith's Food King and Mountain Bell buildings all feature state-of-the-art rock work. But old rock homes, the library and the old train station speak of earlier generations.
As motorists drive into town from the south along U-106, they're soon "struck" by the stones: rock gardens, walls, walkways, fountains, convenience stores.
"When we do retaining walls these days," says Arbuckle, "we do them with rock instead of cement."
A good many rocks used are from the nearby foothills, of course, though Forbush admits most stone is trucked in from Weber Canyon.
Adds Arbuckle: "Even our jail is made of split rocks." He pauses, obviously imagining prisoners bashing away at enormous piles of rocks with sledgehammers. "Actually I've never been convinced that building was a good idea," he says.