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Memory Grove Thriving 15 Years After Tornado

Bryan Ford
A tornado destroyed dozens of trees in Salt Lake City's Memory Grove on August 11, 1999

On August 11th, 1999, a tornado ripped through downtown Salt Lake City. One person died, many more were injured, and hundreds of homes and other buildings were damaged.  But fifteen years later, it looks like one city park may have come through the experience better than before.

The tornado ripped down dozens of huge trees that shaded Memory Grove at the mouth of City Creek Canyon next to Utah’s state capitol.  But even before the disaster, the park had gained a reputation for crime and vandalism.

Afterward, hundreds of volunteers helped to plant new trees in Memory Grove.  JadaLindblom, who manages the Memorial House reception center in the park for the Utah Heritage Foundation, says they’ve had time now to get established.

“The trees have grown in really nicely now," Lindblom tells KUER.  "There’s still some mature trees  around in the park, but all the maples that were planted along the main road are just brilliant in the fall time and there’s a lot of good variety of species here.  I think everyone who chipped in really did a great job envisioning what the park would look like in the future and it’s coming together very nicely.”

The park’s memorials were also restored after the tornado, including the meditation chapel, built in 1948.  Its stained glass windows were replaced, and it was opened again to the public after years of being padlocked.  The markers around the chapel honor service members who died in World War Two but whose bodies were never recovered.

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