09 April 2020

SLC Once Had an Ostrich Farm

Ostrich at Liberty Park Zoo ca. 1915, likely one of the ostriches
acquired from the Salt Lake Ostrich Farm. Image from UDSH.

An ostrich farm once inhabited what is now Warm Springs Park at 840 N 300 West in Salt Lake City.

In July 1914, Mr. Lafayette M. Hughes visited SLC and determined that the local climate and tourist industry would lend itself to a profitable ostrich farm. Mr. Hughes had established several ostrich farms in other states and was a self-described promoter of the industry.

Mr. Hughes negotiated a sub-lease from SLC of 2 acres of land surrounding the Warm Springs Plunge building. On Aug 17, 1914, 21 ostriches arrived by train from Los Angeles and were transported by van to their new home.

The following Saturday the ostrich farm opened to the public with admission being 25 cents. The farm was a combination leisure attraction and feather factory. Feathers were plucked every 8 months with an annual profit of $200 per bird, per year ($5,200 in 2020 dollars).

In the 1910s ostrich feathers were quite fashionable and organizations such as the Audubon Society encouraged the use of ostrich feathers over the other birds because they could be harvested without killing the bird. A shop at 21 E 300 South, named the Style Shop, was established to sell the ostrich feathers directly to the public.

The good times for the Salt Lake Ostrich Farm didn’t last very long and it soon began liquidating its assets. In June 1915 the SLC Zoo, then located in Liberty Park, purchased 3 ostriches from the farm for $400 each. And the popular Wandamere Resort (now Nibley Park Golf Course) made arrangements to obtain 11 of the ostriches (4 of them died due to improper care resulting in a lawsuit).

The last mention of the Salt Lake Ostrich Farm was March 21, 1917, with a notice in the local papers of delinquent taxes.

Warm Springs Park April 2020.
Newspaper advertisement, SL Telegram Sep 12 1914

Ostrich feather hats on Utah women, 
From Harold B. Lee Library BYU.

Ostrich feather hats on Utah women,
From Harold B. Lee Library BYU

Ostrich feather hats on Utah women, 
From Harold B. Lee Library BYU

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