A Fruitful Past

Fall into the wonders of the Huber Grove

“It looks as though all nature was kind to me and that even the trees smiled.”

– Johannes Huber

One of the first orchards in the Heber Valley, the Huber Grove began as a 160-acre family homestead. Built by Swiss immigrant and one of Midway’s founding fathers Johannes Huber, the historic Huber house and creamery still stand today.

Johannes and his wife Maria raised 10 children — five girls and five boys (including one who tragically died young) — in the single-story house located in what is now Wasatch Mountain State Park. Built in 1878 and 1879, the house was set on a pot rock foundation and constructed with lumber Johannes cut at the local mill. The original floors and windows remain in the house to this day.

The Huber children slept in the attic of the small home, and later additions provided a much-needed lean-to that acted as a kitchen and dining room, and an outdoor kitchen that the family used during the warm Heber Valley summers. Maria, a loving wife and mother, added elegance to the simple house with hand-painted wallpaper and handmade lace curtains, and enlivened their home with music and literature.

Built around 1885, the pot rock creamery’s cantilevered porch and floor joist masonry showcase traditional Swiss German architecture. Through a cellar window and into a trough, cold mountain water from the nearby Snake Creek was used to refrigerate items such as milk, cream, cheese and eggs. The second story of the creamery served as additional bedrooms for the children, as well as lodging for travelers and visitors.

In 1885, the Hubers planted their first apple and pear trees, thus starting not only the family fruit operation, but also a tradition of sharing with their growing community. The Huber’s were generous with their harvests and bounty, and were known to gift each newlywed couple in the area with a small apple tree. These apple trees can still be found throughout the valley and the Huber Grove’s harvesting festivities continue to this very day.

A Preserved Future

In 1960, Wasatch Mountain State Park bought the Huber property, which now consists of only eight acres. The park is dedicated to persevering both the historical Huber family home and creamery, as well as the Huber trees for generations to come.

In 2011, the park received grafts from Washington state to preserve the heirloom apple varieties and to continue the lineage of these special trees. The grafted trees have been growing successfully — connecting the past, present and future of the Huber Grove in a remarkable way. The park and locals alike are looking forward to the orchard’s promising future thanks to the addition of these heirloom trees.

A Historical Present

Today, more than 130 years after the first trees were planted, fall visitors can pick apples from some of the original Huber trees that miraculously still bear fruit. No matter the season — applies or no apples — the grove is a wonderful, peaceful setting for a simple picnic, beautiful wedding or family pictures, and it’s the perfect spot to get away and find a bit of tranquility from the everyday hustle and bustle.

A towering spruce tree near the creek provides a secluded spot that envelopes with cascading branches that magically shield you from outside burdens; the playful surroundings make you wonder at the mischievous shenanigans of children from long ago.

A short nature walk circles the upper apple orchard and runs along the creek. Notes and poems by Johannes himself line the trail, bringing the family’s detailed history to life. These reminders that even though times were simpler, they were also quite challenging thanks to the valley’s long winters, put our current state of affairs into perspective.

Part of the reason Huber’s Grove is so special is the feeling that this remarkable pioneer family left a little bit of their adventurous and generous souls in the very roots and branches for us to enjoy today. As you wander this perfect little hidden gem in the cradle of the majestic Wasatch Mountains, you can’t help ponder our collective past, consider our present and dream about the future.

Guided tours of the Huber Grove are available Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer and early fall. The park encourages local residents to volunteer to help with the apple harvest, pruning and maintaining the grove’s sustainability for future generations.

The life span of an apple tree is typically 38 years but it only produces fruit for 15 years. No one knows why the Huber Grove trees have continued to bear fruit all these years!