Veterans Day is Monday, Nov. 11 this year.
It is also a timely and solemn occasion to recall that Layton City has had its own special “Veterans Park,” since 1991, to honor military veterans.
Although this is by far Layton’s smallest park, it boasts a lengthy history and is worthy of a visit by residents.
Located between the north entrance to FrontRunner’s parking Lot and the Union Pacific Railroad Tracks, the parks sits between 155 West and 175 West Gentile Street, on the south side of the street.
The half-acre Layton park was called "Railroad Park," from 1921-1991, because it is just east of the Union Pacific Railroad line. In fact, the historic Layton Railroad Depot, now being renovated and located at the far southeast end of Main Street, used to be situated there too, on a then larger piece of railroad property.
The park is bordered by large trees, four of which were planted on Arbor Day, April 15, 1921, in honor of four Layton men who died in the Army during World War I -- David Day, David Lane Jones, Hubert H. Layton and William Clyde Layton. (One of those veteran trees was removed in 2008 during FrontRunner line construction and was replaced with a new tree.) Plaques sit at the foot of each of the four trees, with the soldiers’ names inscribed on them.
The park, at exactly age 70, was rededicated on Nov. 12, 1991 at Veterans Park in a ceremony attended by some 150 people. Lyndia Graham, City Councilwoman at the time, was instrumental in the renaming and rededicating the park. Layton Elementary students provided the music for both past park dedications.
The 1991 ceremony's main speaker, historian and Layton resident Harris Adams, described the park then as "almost a sacred spot of ground." He said that when the park was created, Layton City was not yet born.
He also said that B.H. Roberts, a historian, resident of Davis County and a member of the First Quorum of Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was the main speaker during the original dedication in 1921.
Adams said the first map of the area was made in 1849 and the immediate area by the park was originally called "Kays Creek Crossing." He noted that the railroad used to go through the center of Layton before it was moved to its current location, west of Main Street, from 1911-1912.
Six people had lost their lives near the railroad crossing at Main Street because of limited sight along the line and since trains coasted to the stop, almost silently. Those deaths were a major reason for the railroad moving slightly west of the current Main Street.
The train depot in the 1910s also included a fenced piece of property, with grass, that the public soon regarded as an unofficial park/gathering place. It was this area that became the dedicated park in 1921. (The area had to be fenced then to prevent straying horses or livestock in the area from grazing on it.)
Veteran's Park Memorial
Adams also said that many soldiers and LDS Church missionaries from Layton left from the original train depot, located on the south end of where Veterans Park is now located. He said the park was a favorite spot to gather and watch Fourth of July parades from.
Veterans Park is maintained by the Layton City Parks and Recreation Department but is owned by the Oregon Short Line/Union Pacific Railroad Corp.
Today Veterans Park includes three picnic tables, grass and other trees. It also features a large monument and plaques.
Parking to visit the park can usually be found at the north end of the FrontRunner parking area, or at Layton Elementary School.
-Veterans Day first originated as “Armistice Day,” on Nov. 11, 1910, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. The U.S. Congress approved a resolution in 1926 calling for its annual observance. But, it wasn’t until 1938 that it became a national holiday. It was in 1954 – 59 years ago – that President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation to change the name to Veterans Day, so that it would honor all those persons who served in American wars.
SOURCES: Veterans Park’s plaques, Deseret News Archives, www.census.gov