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Utah Travel Headlines

Monday, December 12, 2011

Burl Ives Lives On At Utah's Big Rock Candy Mountain

There is a unique little mountain in south-central Utah that does indeed look like it is made of of candy - salt water taffy to be exact.

The mountain shares the name of a famous Burl Ives song, "Big Rock Candy Mountain." The two have long been associated together and local legend makes it unclear which inspired which.

Long ago a small resort was created at the mountain and today it is owned and operated by a Burl Ives look-alike, a displaced jazz singer who had never heard of the song. The resort features an excellent restaurant - one of the best in southern Utah. If you are traveling down historic Hwy 89, we recommend you stop in and sample the fare, and enjoy the atmosphere.

The Deseret News has this article about the mountain, its history and its current custodian. Below are excerpts.

"The Big Rock Candy Mountain" was written in 1928 by a man named Harry McClintock, better known as Haywire Mack. As the legend goes, McClintock was a brakeman on the railroad that used to run through central Utah past a mountain so brightly colored it looks like it's made out of candy (but is really the creation of a long-ago volcanic uprising).

He wrote his song, a hobo anthem that fantasizes of a place where, among other things, "the handouts grow on bushes," and "the hens lay soft-boiled eggs" and "there's a lake of stew, and ginger ale too, and you can paddle all around it in a big canoe."

But nobody covered it quite like Burl Ives, the singer and movie actor with the distinctive white goatee, who recorded "Big Rock Candy Mountain" in 1949 and turned it into a chart-topping hit in the 1950s.

Where the story gets bizarre, if not borderline unbelievable, is that before Terry Briggs took over operation of The Big Rock Candy Mountain Resort, he'd never heard of the song, let alone the fact that his look-alike Burl Ives made it famous.

...And he's accepted his unexpected dual identity, cheerfully enduring the people who walk through the door, gasp at seeing Burl Ives in the flesh, and exclaim, "I love all your movies!"

Read the entire article. The News also has this embedded youtube video that shows photos of Ives while the song plays in the background.

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