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Wasatch Mountain State Park home to century-old orchard

MIDWAY, Wasatch County — For Stu Nelson, there’s nothing quite like golfing at Wasatch Mountain State Park.

“There’s no housing. There’s no road traffic,” said Nelson, the park's golf pro. “There’s animals — turkey, deer, moose, wildlife. The setting is as unique as I’ve found in the state of Utah.”

It’s an exceptional 36 holes, especially for out-of-towners, he said.

“When people come from out of state and they visit, that’s what they say," Nelson said. "It’s a unique place.”

Wasatch Mountain State Park is not only a respite for golfers, but it's also a great getaway for those looking to hike, bike or use ATVs. Most of those activities take visitors right by the park, missing out on one particular hidden gem: a century-old apple orchard.

The orchard has been around for a long time, with its seeds being shipped from out of state in 1890.

Johannes Huber, an early Utah settler in the area, raised his family there and put all 10 of his children to work in the orchard. He helped create the orchard that stands in the park today, even purchasing 22,000 seeds for the cause. The Huber family made all kinds of products from the orchard: applesauce, apple butter, apple pies, etc.

There’s something strange about the park's apple trees, though. Apple trees typically live 35 years and produce apples for even less time than that. But these trees, according to park naturalist Kathy Donnell, “are over 120 years (old), and they’re still producing apples.”

Donnell can’t seem to figure out why, but she does acknowledge that these trees are special. In order to keep the orchard going, in fact, Donnell’s team has spent years grafting new trees from the old.

The hope is that the new trees will be just as hardy as their ancestors.

“Look at this place. It’s just gorgeous,” Donnell said. “It's peaceful, and it's just the history, the culture in the area, so to take these trees and preserve them and have them sustainable over another 100 years, I hope, so that our kids and grandkids and great-grandkids can learn.”

It’s a history that can be enjoyed by golfers and nongolfers alike at Wasatch Mountain State Park.

Email: acabrero@deseretnews.com