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Farmington not too fired up about offers to sell cannon

Council delays decision on fate of landmark

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FARMINGTON — The fate of the historic cannon that has stood on the corner of 100 North and Main for more than 50 years is still up in the air.

City Council members decided Wednesday night to postpone making a decision on whether to sell the cannon until they receive formal recommendations from historical groups in the community, including the Farmington Company of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers.

Offers to buy the cannon have come from the Civil War Artillery Museum in Pennsylvania and the Northwestern National Military Museum and Foundation Inc. in Montana, with the latest offer reaching $50,000. If the cannon is sold, the money will likely be shared with DUP and used to start a museum next door to Farmington's municipal building.

Members of the DUP rescued and restored the cannon, which they thought to be Old Sow, a cannon brought across the plains by Mormon pioneers in the late 1840s. The plaque adorning the 1,850-pound cannon and the book "My Farmington" tell the same story.

But when city manager Max Forbush inspected the cannon more closely this spring, he found markings indicating the cannon was made in 1864, several years after the Mormon migration. He then contacted LDS Church historians, who confirmed that Farmington's cannon could not be Old Sow, which is in the church's possession in storage.

Farmington's cannon is apparently Civil War surplus that was sold to Mexico after the war ended. No one is quite sure how it ended up in Utah, but the book "My Farmington" indicates Lagoon bought the cannon and used it in battle re-enactments.

Even though it turns out the cannon is not the Mormon artifact Farmington residents believed it to be, and even though one museum's offer includes supplying a replica to take the cannon's place, some residents and members of DUP still do not want to see it go.

"I don't care if the cannon's worth $100,000. It belongs right here in the city," said resident Joe Wilcox. "It's been here longer than I have."

DUP international president Mary Johnson agreed.

"I hate to see us throw away our heritage. A replacement would mean nothing. . . . We're not interested in replicas, we're interested in the real thing," she said.

Other residents argued that the cannon is not safe sitting out on a city corner and could be stolen or vandalized. Selling it to a museum would preserve it. And City Council member David Dixon said that although the cannon is of historical value, it doesn't have a lot to do with the city.

"How does an old Civil War cannon represent Farmington?" he asked.

Judy Jenson, president of the Davis Farmington Company of DUP, says the group appears to be somewhat divided on the issue.

"We preserve things, we don't sell them," she said. "I'm kind of scared to see what's going to happen."

The City Council will not make a decision on the sale of the cannon until October when the DUP has had a chance to meet and draft a recommendation.

E-MAIL: ehayes@desnews.com