Utah Stories

Babs in the City – Millcreek Canyon

A brief history of Millcreek Canyon and Log Haven.


image002By Babs De Lay: Broker Urban Utah Homes & Estates

We are blessed living in Utah in so many ways, but particularly lucky in the Salt Lake Valley to have so many canyons surrounding us. Who needs more city parks when in 10 or 15 minutes we can be hiking, skiing, boarding in the beautiful Wasatch or even Oquirrh ranges.

I’ve been fond of Mill Creek Canyon (3800 So.Wasatch Blvd.) since I moved here in the early 70’s and was digging around recently and discovered a bit of history I didn’t know about the place.

In 1920, L. F. Rains, a wealthy steel baron, had also discovered the beauty of the canyon. He built his Metropolitan Opera singer wife a gorgeous log cabin hideaway as an anniversary gift in his favorite canyon. He brought in logs from Oregon via mule team and had his present designed to snuggle in at the base of the cliffs among the flora and fauna.

The ‘log haven’ became not only a summer retreat for the Rains family but a  gathering place for friends of the family. The great Depression hit the country a decade later and the cabin and property were sold to an insurance salesman who used the home as a year round residence. He added more rooms, stables and a pond for ice skating.

Many years later the property and cabin changed hands again and the new owner tried to make a go of a restaurant there. Sadly another depression hit the country and after the 1980’s crash the property kinda went to hell in a hand-basket and was going to be demolished.

Worse, in 1982 a double murder took place in Log Haven’s driveway. The manager of the restaurant, Michael Moore, fatally shot Jordan Rasmussen, who was going to replace him as the restaurant’s manager.  When laundry truck driver, Buddy Booth, drove up to deliver napkins and aprons, Moore killed him to eliminate a potential witness. Moore was convicted two murders and in 2000 he hanged himself in his Utah State Prison cell.

Along came Margo Provost who bought and rescued the place in the early 1990’s and lo, “Log Haven” was saved. She has certainly put her heart and soul into the place and it shows. The beautiful old growth wood is stunning, the setting idyllic and Margo’s menus divine. She’s been given the moniker of Utah’s “Most Romantic Restaurant” many times over the years. The distinctive destination has become a favorite spot for not just swell dining, but for weddings, anniversaries and celebrations of all kinds.

Margo is not only dedicated to her restaurant business but to the canyon itself. She was just recognized for helping to restore Bonneville cutthroat trout into the canyon’s creek and pond across from her property- in cooperation with the Utah Division of Wildlife resources.

From all of us, thank you for Log Haven and being a good steward of Millcreek Canyon.

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