Presenting the Original Uinta(h) Elementary School Sign

Uinta (6)

The spelling of UINTA(H) — in the 1800s the H was sometimes used and sometimes left off. John Wesley Powell left it off when he spelled the word as part of his 1869 expedition, because he said it was unnecessary for pronunciation of the word.

The U.S. government standardized the spelling later in the 1800s by setting the rule that Uinta without the H would be used for natural features such as the Uinta Mountains or Uinta Basin, and Uintah with the H would be used for man-made entities such as Uintah School or Uintah County. So that is why the school name has the H in it.

So why was the sign above the main door of Uintah School misspelled by leaving off the H? I don’t think it’s known for sure, but it probably involves one of these reasons: (1) In 1915 when the school was built, the spelling guidelines from the government were still so recent that there may still have been some confusion on the issue; (2) The contractor who made the sign might have simply left off the H by mistake, or ran out of room on the cement slab by spacing the letters too far apart and having no room at the end for the H. It might just be that simple.

Thank you to Phillip Snow for his research on the spelling of Uinta(h). This gentleman was also the one who was able to save this piece of history!

–JonDewey
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2 thoughts on “Presenting the Original Uinta(h) Elementary School Sign

  1. In our first K.E.E.P. Yalecrest introduction letter we mentioned “A relevant historic remnant that’s been hidden away was recently donated to K.E.E.P. Yalecrest! When revealed, we will solicit your ideas for it’s permanent Yalecrest location. Stay tuned.”

    The “stay tuned” is now here. The historic remnant is the Uinta Elementary School cement/terra cotta sign that was located above the entrance doors to the original school. No ‘H’ was included in the first spelling…there is more to that story (see above). The 1915 school was demolished in 1993 and a Wasatch Hollow resident paid the demolition crew to remove the sign as carefully as possible. He stored the sign at his house for 17 years or so and then donated it to the Utah Heritage Foundation (UHF). When word got out that our non-profit was formed, UHF director Kirk Huffaker donated it to us. Fast forward and after a meeting with Uintah’s School Community Council, we have a green light to begin discussions on what to do with it and where to place it on the school grounds. This is especially exciting because Uinta(h) will be celebrating its centennial in 2015! We will need some restoration work done and help with installation when it’s decided what will be done with it. Please forward any ideas and contacts you might have that could help us with the restoration and installation.

    • After consulting with restoration experts, it was decided that this sign couldn’t withstand an outdoor placement, which is what we were moving forward with. Back to the drawing board. We have a great idea to ‘sink’ it below ground level and covering with glass, this would be the best way to preserve the sign. We’ll have to get some cost estimates and go from there.

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