Oral Histories

Dennis E. “Pete” Byrd, Sr.


Pete Byrd

Q: A DC3 is a pretty good size airplane isn’t it?

Pete: Yeah, it’s like Frontier used to fly. We had big planes like that coming in bringing these mining company executives.

Q: Did you build the airport?

Pete: No. The airport was built before I came here. The runway was built before I came here. When we started flying out there, there wasn’t anything. The only tiedowns were some that Monte Mason put in there himself. We used to tie down on them. There wasn’t any improvements at all except for the little tar paper shack about 8 x 10 feet. There was an old crank- type telephone in it and a stile that went over the fence and then a cattle guard. Then the County built that one hangar which was 60 x 80 feet. That was the main terminal. When I took over I put a gas pump in, a second- hand gas pump. After six months or so, I decided I was giving away all my profit because the pump wasn’t any good.

Q: How did they get the gasoline here?

Pete: Hauled it in from Salt Lake. Ken McDougald was an oil distributor and his place of business was where Navtec is. In 1955-56, based on gallons of gas sold, we were the second busiest airport in the State of Utah.

Q: Did you have landing fees and pickup fees?

Pete: No. We had one toilet in our apartment and it was in the room nearest the front room and it was used by the public. A real sore spot was that when we was closing up, Rose Shumacher, Charlie’s mother used it because she was a real pain.

Q: Were you paid a salary or just selling gas?

Pete: No. Actually we paid to get it. We don’t have time to go into that story. You don’t have enough tape to tape all that story. But the airport really took off and the business got so much that it doubled in business, our income doubled every month for about six months. I bought a new Cessna 180 right when they first came out and I was flying night and day. We had those old crank telephones with about 12 families(END OF SIDE 2, TAPE A)

Q: This is a continuation from Tape 1 on January 21, 2003 for Dennis Byrd, Detta Dahl

Pete: One thing I should have told you earlier was that when I came up here between Christmas and New Year’s of ’52, while I was out at the mine, I made a deal with Jimmy Johnson who was (whose?) son and was running a hoist out there. He was going up and stake some claims for them so I gave him a check for $1.00, that’s what it cost to record a claim. He went up and staked five claims for them and one for me up at the north end of where Charlie and Bob’s 50 claims ended. My claim was called the (sounds like Bowl Ace? Bow Legs?) Claim. He took the location notices. It was all snow out there. Took the location notices down to Monticello, recorded it and used my check. Later on, after I came up here but before I started flying, I went out with Bob Barrett and two guys named, one named Hudson, Tom Hudson, a relative of Bill Hudson, and a guy named….. it doesn’t make any difference. I can’t think of his name. Anyway, we staked some claims. The deal was that we would start at what we called the mushroom rock. It looked back toward UTEX and stake alternating claims. We put up the location notices for two claims for me and one for Rowena Taylor. Then every other one was for these guys. The deal was that they would go to Monticello and record these claim notices. I guess I gave them the money to do it. I’m sure I did. The only thing was the next day they come out and, knowing what had been done before, in effect jumped the claims, our claims and the ones they’d staked, too.

Q: Their own claims?

Pete: Yeah. Staked over them and then they recorded the notices.

Q: Off the new ones?

Pete: Well, mine was a (disk location?) and a rig, that was the name Bob puts on my location notices.

Q: And they had recorded those before they overstaked them?

Pete: Yeah. But we only put up the corners of John’s, Bob’s, and Charlie’s claims, see, so the back corner was never put up, the west corner. So they went out and they just ignored that and put up and restaked the whole claim. They were supposed to come back….part of the deal for taking them up there and showing them where it was, they were supposed to put up all the corners. Well, eventually, while I was working for Charlie flying the plane, Johnson and myself made a deal with E. L. Cord, who was this guy that built the Cord automobile, to pay $5,000 down and $100,000 a claim for my (Bow Legs?) and their claim. The other deal with (Bow Legs?) and the (dissapation?) I gave Bob and the pilot a 2/3 interest in what I had out of it. Of course we had to get a lawyer and got (?) in Salt Lake. That’s another long story. Eventually, we got this thing settled with these guys and Homestake bought the claim or leased the claims that they had and we’d staked. They were holding out for this (Bow Legs?) claim that Cord had. I wound up with 6-1/4% interest, relative interest, on this (dissapation?) and (rig?) claim and I gave Bob and Charlie 2/3 interest in mine, so I had 2% (?). That alone paid me as much as $3,000 a month. I mean not regular but it paid $400 or $500 a month, lots of months, but one time it paid out $3,000.

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