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Charm versus growth – Ogden Valley wants to keep both

By JEFF DEMOSS Standard-Examiner staff

BRIAN NICHOLSON/Standard-Examiner. Mary Earley glances up at the ceiling of the Wild Plum Gift Shop where she works at the Trappers Village in Huntsville.

Huntsville – On just about any given day, horse-drawn carts bearing passengers click and clack through the streets of this historic Ogden Valley town, reminiscent of the days when the Wood family hand delivered meat from a wagon throughout the valley, fur trappers gathered in the town square, and “cars” ran on water and hay.

Today, motorized vehicles are the preferred transportation method as the Ogden Valley experiences an era of unprecedented growth. But local business owners say while they welcome growth, they want it to happen without compromising the old western town charm that is their identity- and one of their strongest marketing tools.

“We see Huntsville’s potential as the town that time forgot,” Jeff Hyde who owns and operates Trappers Village downtown with wife Bonnie, said. “Visitors talk about how they feel like they’ve gone back in time. We want to preserve that atmosphere.”

The Hydes are putting their money where their mouths are. They have purchased and refurbished several of Huntsville’s historic buildings as part of their downtown tourist stop vision, while doing as much as possible to retain the original look.

Their restaurant, The Yukon Grille, was once the town post office. The Rendevous Lodge, which hosts receptions, wedding, reunions, and other meetings, was previously the notoriously pink-colored Heritage Inn.
Their most recently finished project, The Wild Plum gift shop, was originally a Forest Service cabin brought down in the 1940s by the Jolly Boys, a small group of local businessmen made locally famous by their penchant for Friday night poker games at a time when gambling was illegal.

“There are lots of stories in these walls,” Jeff Hyde said of all the buildings on the now more than one-acre property.

As exposure increases for the Hydes, so does business. Actor Robert Redford chose Trapper’s Village as the site of the photo shoot for the holiday edition of the Sundance catalog this year, and the Hydes expect a positive response as awareness of their project spreads.

The Hydes do most of the refurbishing by themselves, and are working to continue expanding Trapper’s Village. They recently purchased the historic Woods Market, which was opened in 1897 by the Wood family, descendants of some of Huntsville’s original settlers. They also bought the tiny cabin that was the Woods’ first home.

“There’s a lot of sweat equity in this project,” Bonnie Hyde said. They also have experience, having worked in buying, remodeling and reselling Ogden homes for years. Their involvement in the ski industry has provided the necessary capital to make their dream of Trapper’s Village a reality, she said. They are the Utah representatives for national outdoor clothing company Clucky & Co.

Jeff Hyde said after watching towns like Telluride, Colo., and Park City grow into major tourist destinations, he saw a great location and opportunity in Huntsville, though he doesn’t think it should be modeled after those towns.

“This area has its own identity, and a very strong one,” he said. “We can learn from other places without copying them. We like the small town charm here.”

The Ogden Valley has long been Weber County’s primary tourist destination, offering three ski areas and a smorgasbord of outdoor activities. The Winter Olympics brought awareness to Snowbasin and Powder Mountain, which spent decades in the shadows of their neighbor resorts to the south.

In response to strong growth, the Ogden Valley Business Association was established by about 25 local business people in April 2001 to provide a networking resource for valley businesses. Since then, its membership has grown to 85, including a dozen auxiliary members who are based outside Ogden Valley but are interested in doing business there.

Lisa Karam, vice chair and founding member of the OVBA as well as vice chair of the Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce, said the OVBA decided from the outset it would not involve itself in political matters.

“The main objective is to give valley businesses a voice and opportunities to network,” she said. “We’re not fighting over property rights or anything like that.”

“It’s great,” Bonnie Hyde said. “It’s small enough that we all pull for each other and promote our businesses together.”

Because of Ogden Valley’s high tourist appeal, the Ogden/Weber Convention and Visitor’s Bureau was also compelled to join the association, CVB executive director Shelleice Stokes said.

“Doing business collectively increases our marketing strength in the county’s fastest growing tourist area,” she said. “The scenery, the open spaces, the farms, the Huntsville square – those are all very tangible selling points for us.”

She said retreats and reunions are gaining in popularity, and Ogden Valley is an ideal site for such events.

Karam said the OVBA’s objective is to sell local business to local residents rather than focus on attracting tourists, but still acknowledges the importance of tourism to the valley’s economy.

“There’s an amazing number of businesses here.” She said among a total valley population of about 6,500, there are approximately 200 businesses currently operating, many of which are home-based. “We want local people to realize that there’s a lot here, and they don’t have to go to Ogden for everything.”

Bonnie Hyde said she is amazed at the expansion in business opportunities in the valley since Trapper’s Village opened just two years ago, and expects the trend to continue.

“We had no idea it would evolve like this when we started,” she said. “The opportunities just keep coming up.”

You can reach reporter Jeff DeMoss at 625-4226 or jdemoss@standard.net.

Other Businesses 

Joyful Smiles Family Dentistry
237A South 7400 East
Huntsville, Utah 84317

Lakeside Resort
6486 UT-39, 
Huntsville, UT 84317


Huntsville Square Continues to Grow – Wild Plum gift shop added

The Ogden Valley News, June 15, 2003

Ben’s Meat Market and Grocery in Huntsville.


Dine . . . Shop . . . Relax . . .

You are formally invited; saddle your horse, grab your hat, and come enjoy one of the west’s best kept secrets–a place where history both past and present come together for a experience like no other. Trappers Village, located in Huntsville, Utah, contains the outlines of an area rich in history. Surrounded by the beautiful mountains of the Ogden Valley, Huntsville was once a gathering place for Shoshone Indians, mountain men, and pioneers.

Trapper’s Village invites you to explore the latest addition to the village-the Wild Plum, a quaint gift shop, offering unique gifts, home decorations, and collectibles. Located in the historic “Jolly Boy” gambling house, the Wild Plum gets its name from the wild fruit that was once used as a food source by many American tribes. The Dakota also used the plums’ stones for gaming pieces.

The store is now open Thursday and Friday evenings from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., and Saturdays from 12:00 to 8:00 p.m. A Grand Opening will be held June 17. An Ogden Weber Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 5:00 p.m. that evening.

After shopping at the Wild Plum, stop by the Yukon Grille to re-fuel after a long hard day of boating, biking, or . . . just relaxing.

Ben’s Meat Market and Grocery in Huntsville had a meat wagon that Mr. Ben Wood would take all over the Valley, selling meat.

The Rendezvous Lodge is ideal for receptions, corporate functions, and parties.

Huntsville Square recently acquired the historic Woods Market and have renovated for the opening of the Wild Plum. The store, established in 1897, is being included as part of the growing Trapper’s Village. Owners Jeff and Bonnie Hyde state that their goal is to revitalize a once bustling town, without taking away its small town charm. Trappers Village surrounds Huntsville’s historic town square where one can find Huntsville’s oldest home, along with the town’s first ever post office, and doctor’s office.

Ben F. Wood, his wife Olivia Felt Wood, and their family ran the home business of Ben’s Meat Market and Grocery in Huntsville. Ben had a meat wagon that he would take all over the Valley, selling his meat from the wagon. He used ice cut from the second river in the winter in what was called Winter’s Grove. Winter’s Grove was located where Jefferson Hunt camp ground now exists. The ice was packed and saved for use during the warm months of the year.

It is said that Ben Wood, prior owner of Woods Market, was an affable, gregarious person whose fun personality attracted many people to him. He was an excellent storyteller, an attribute that he passed on to his sons. He played the violin and was an accomplished actor for many plays that were produced in the Valley for the entertainment of the whole community. His son Sterling B. Wood was a lifelong resident of the Valley, and mayor of the mountain community for 12 years.

These two were key pioneers of the Valley, having been descended from one of the first settlers who came with Jefferson Hunt, who was sent by the LDS prophet Brigham Young. Their descendants still live in Huntsville today.

According to Jeff and Bonnie Hyde of Bonnie & Hyde Inc., they are restoring and developing Trappers Village into a property that will enhance and compliment the historic town. “It is our goal to create a peaceful experience that includes dining and shopping while, embracing a quiet mountain atmosphere. A place that gives people a feeling of ‘Those were the days,’ a place where people vow to return to time and again.”

Note: Information on Woods Market taken from the archives, history, and documents from the Sterling Wood family and Loris Allen.