Some historians believe a wall was built in downtown Ogden during the mid-1800s, much like the wall built on the island of Manhattan in early New York, to keep out unfriendly Indians.
But did Ogden's Wall Avenue get its name from a city wall - like Wall Street in New York? Or is the wall more legend than fact?The inscription on a plaque erected in 1981 by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers outside Union Station at the intersection of Wall Avenue and 25th Street states:
"In 1854 Ogden pioneers built a rock and mud wall a mile square along 28th Street, Wall Avenue, and 21st Street. (The wall along) Madison Avenue was not completed because the Indians became peaceful. The eight foot wall had a six foot base and 31 inch top and four gates.
"The cost of $40,000 was raised by $40.00 tax on each city lot, also a $10.00 tax on every able bodied man over 18 years. The project was erected by 500 working men. Wall Avenue was named after this wall."
But did such a wall really exist? Dr. Richard Sadler, Weber State University dean of social sciences and history professor, doesn't think so.
"I've never found any real evidence," said Sadler. "We have a Wall Avenue. The question is: How much of a wall was there, if indeed there was in fact a wall?"
Some historians believe there was a wall, but there is nothing left to prove it really existed, Sadler said. He asks, "If there was a wall, how big was it and whenwas it torn down?" Sadler also said that, to his knowledge, there are no photographs of the wall or any structural remains to prove the wall existed as described.
According to "A History of Ogden," written by Dale Morgan in the mid-1930s and published by the Ogden City Commission in 1940, a journal was written by an Englishman in which he described the wall. But the journal description indicated the wall enclosed an oblong area only 300 yards long with four sides.
The Englishman, William Chandless, wrote, "Crossing my old friend the Weber, that enters the valley through an impassable ravine on its way to the salt-water, I reached the village of the same name, a single street of cottages for some 300 yards in length, with their gardens behind, and the whole enclosed by an earthen wall, with a gateway at each end of the oblong.
"The wall gave rather a snug look to the place, and against Indians may be effectual," wrote Chandless.
The book goes on to state that in 1854, Wilford Woodruff visited Ogden and described the town for the Deseret News, saying, "This is the county seat of Weber County and is a flourishing place containing some 150 families. The city wall will enclose one mile square and is to be built of earth eight feet high, three feet wide at the bottom and 18 inches at the top; but very little is yet built."
Morgan went on to say in his book that only about half the wall was ever completed.
Sadler said that Morgan was a credible historian, but, based on his own research, he doubts that a wall was ever built.
Sadler said that his own research leads him to believe that the wall is just a part of folklore. Early Ogden was so scattered, he said, there was probably never a major effort to complete a wall, though one may have been started somewhere in the area of the present Wall Avenue.