By Rosemary Pollock
Benson Gristmill Pageant Tells Little-Known Tooele Story
STANSBURY PARK, UTAH -- The Old Benson gristmill came to life with light,
music and sound as a panoramic sunset gave way to the Big Dipper for the
sixth annual Benson Gristmill Pageant. The 135-member costumed cast told the
history of hardship and conflict in Tooele with horse-drawn wagons, local
livestock and a three-story wooden mill constructed in the early 1850's.
"If we are actors in a drama, as the Bard would have us believe, then
certainly Latter-day Saints have produced a script and players as dramatic
as there have ever been," wrote Carl Arrington in a 1977 New Era magazine
story that traced the roots of pageants and road shows held throughout Utah.
"The Mormon story is a complete drama with characters, conflicts, action,
morality, tragedy and comedy," Arrington wrote.
Christie Steadman, the pageant producer, said the idea for the Tooele
production came in 1996 while they were looking for ways to celebrate Utah's
centennial statehood. "We decided to write it ourselves around the events in
Toole County history," she said. "The Lee family, some of the first settlers
of Tooele County, had a lot of information and we took the literary license
to make it into a story line." "It took us a year to write it. We were
rehearsing the first scenes as we wrote the end," she said.
The pageant is sponsored by Tooele County and the Benson Gristmill Historic
Site and tells stories of the Pony Express, the election of the Liberal
Party that overturned the Mormon control of the community, Goshute Indians,
the Gold Rush and the ethnic origins of the miners and workers of the Tooele
Valley Railroad. A highlight in the production is a story of the 1892
Polynesian Pioneer Day in the settlement of Iosepa.
Music for the pageant was written by Gary Swan and the two-hour-long
pageant is narrated by writer, Maxine Grimm. It begins Thursday night at
8:45 p.m. and will run until Monday.
Pioneer Utah Comes to Life in Pageant
Salt Lake Tribune 11Aug01 D6
By Tom Wharton: Salt Lake Tribune