I am a mother to two awesome kids, and have been married to my favorite hubby (okay, my only hubby, but still my favorite!) since October 1999. Our favorite thing to do is get out of the house and find adventures! I am the founder and creator of Enjoy Utah!, a site dedicated to helping families get out of the house and see all that Utah has to offer! I contribute as a blog writer for the Salt Lake Visitors Bureau, and also write CityGuides for SheKnows.com.. I am excited to be a part of Today's Mama! I co-own a DJ Business with my hubby, and also do the online marketing and manage the blog and social media for Gines Auto Service.

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Utah Legend: The Kissing Tree

With all the love in the air this past week, I thought it was appropriate that I bring you one of Utah’s oldest legends and love stories. It all centers around a tree, a purple dress, and a shrine to a meeting place of long ago.

The Cedar Tree Shrine

Kissing TreeWhen the pioneers arrived in the valley in 1847, their main road to and from the valley was known as Emigration Road, what is now known to us as 300 South. At 600 East, a large Cedar tree stood, and was a welcome site that they had arrived in the valley.

Beneath the Cedar, travelers would rest in the shade, sing songs and offers prayers of gratitude for an end to their long journey. It also became a meeting place for people to gather before they traveled out of the valley. Loggers would gather here each day before their journey up the canyon to complete their day’s work. Children would play beneath its branches, and lovers found it a happy meeting place to sit in its shade and enjoy the company of each other. I can imagine that hearts were probably carved in this tree as a symbol of never-ending love between two hearts. This is where the Cedar got is nickname “The Kissing Tree”.

Lavender, The Ghost of The Kissing Tree

lavender dressThe Kissing Tree is also the site of one of Utah’s first urban legend love stories. The legend tells of a young woman named Marilyn Watson who came immigrated to Salt Lake from Scotland with her family in 1847. She was 19 years old, and loved dancing, flirting with boys, and wearing purple dresses. This fascination with purple dresses named her the nickname “Lavender”. Tragedy struck just under two years after reaching the valley, when she caught pneumonia and died. (They say that she is buried at the Salt Lake City Cemetery, and that her headstone has the name “Lavender” written on it, but with all my research at the cemetery I have yet to come across such a grave.)

Fast forward 10 years when 20-year old Henry Tanner arrives in the valley with his family. Henry also loved to dance, and would invite girls he met at dances to meet him at The Kissing Tree. One night he spotted a young girl in a lavender colored dress, and was immediately drawn to her. He invited her to meet him at The Kissing Tree, where they would embrace and kiss under its branches. He accompanied her home, and offered her his jacket to keep her warm. Upon arriving home, Henry noticed that the girl still had his jacket, and returned to her house the next day to retrieve it. Nobody was home, so he asked a neighbor where he could find her. The neighbor said that the girl in the lavender dress could be found on the East side of the cemetery, and when Henry arrived there, instead he found her headstone with his jacket draped across it.

Some say that you can still spot a girl in a lavender dress waiting by The Kissing Tree.

Story source: Salt Lake Magazine

The Cedar Tree (Kissing Tree) Today

cedar treeFor unknown reasons, this tree was carelessly chopped down, leaving only the stump. On July 24, 1933, the Daughters of Salt Lake County erected a monument and plaque around the stump as a tribute to the many years of friendly influence the tree had on the lives of the weary travelers, loggers, men, women, children and lovers in the early Salt Lake valley.

You can find The Kissing Tree, also known as the Cedar Tree Shrine, at 316 South 600 East in Salt Lake City. Maybe tonight between your dinner plans and other various Valentines Day activities, you can find a moment to stop by the monument and reflect on the place where many other lovers have sat there before.

Read more about Utah’s Mysteries and Urban Legends.

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Comments (1)

  1. Cherie Davis 08/02/2013 at 2:21 pm

    The story of the Kissing Tree and Marilyn Watson originated from Henry Tanner’s great-great-grandson. Story Tours, aka Salt Lake and Ogden Ghost Tours, gained permission from this descendant to share the story which was in Henry’s journal. Salt Lake Magazine did attend one of our tours and heard the story there. But no one has ever claimed to see a woman in lavender.