The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers has commemorated the building of the Uriah Nephi Smart tannery, constructed in 1880, by placing a historic marker near the corner of 2490 East (Mercury Lane) and 39th South.
The marker was placed on land donated by Rowland Smart, a grandson, near the original site of the tannery.The tannery consisted of a two-story building 30 feet wide by 100 feet long nestled in a deep hollow south of what is now 39th South. The building featured a sandstone foundation made of rocks from Red Butte Canyon and adobe bricks made from the clay of a nearby creek embankment. Large redwood vats were used to hold lime water for loosening the hair from pelts and tannic acid mixtures used for softening the leather.
Water for the vats, which were housed on the lower level, was drawn from a spring above the tannery site. The water was piped in using a gravity flow system as the tannery was some 30 feet lower than the springs. The upper floor was used for fleshing and softening the leather and for storing finished products.
Smart made his own tannic acid from pine bark, ground in a mill located south of the tannery. He also used large cast-iron kettles to boil down animal bones to make oil for softening the leather.
The tannery operated on the site from 1880 until 1921 when the building was torn down.
A bronze plaque was attached to a large rock to create the historic marker. LaVerne A. Diehl, county marker chairman, said the rock for the monument was donated from a local quarry and the plaque was donated by the national DUP organization. A brief dedication ceremony was held in the parking lot of Our Savior Lutheran Church, across from the monument site.
In addition to a brief history and description of the tannery, the plaque features an artist's rendering of the former building.