John C. Sharp Jr.

John Sharp, whose persistence and diligence made possible this historic volume, was born at the Oakland California Army Hospital in 1944 and later grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Park City, Utah. His interest in American history and the early West began in his youth when his father bought an old log cabin homestead near Park City. He spent many summers fixing the place up and roaming the Wasatch Mountains above Park City, poking around ghost-mining camps. Along the way, he became interested in colored, handmade glass bottles and would accompany a desert rat antique dealer friend of his to Alta, Utah, to dig the old outhouse holes for bottles. Another passion of John’s was wood carving. He carved historic western signs like “Boot Hill,” “Long Branch Saloon,” and “Bull Durham Tobacco” and then traded them for western relics. Wood carving became his life’s work. After graduating from the University of Utah in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science in History, he bought a run-down building in Park City, which after some research turned out to be one of the only buildings on Park City’s Main Street to survive the great 1898 fire that burned Park City to the ground. John fixed the falling-down building up, and in 1972, he and his wife, Jennifer, opened an art gallery where she painted and sold her watercolors, and he carved and sold his western woodcarvings. In 1979, John and Jennifer pulled stakes and moved to Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Jennifer was from Wisconsin, and it was her turn to decide where to live. They bought the James Spensley house west of town and began another restoration project, and in 1986, Jennifer bought the 1829 John F. O’Neill building on Commerce Street that she and John restored into another art gallery. After living on the Spensley farm for eighteen years, they pulled stakes once again and moved back to the West to Astoria, Oregon. A year on the beautiful Oregon Coast at the mouth of the Columbia River could not dampen their memories of Mineral Point and old friends. John and Jennifer pulled stakes one last time and returned home to Mineral Point in 2000. Jennifer again discovered a diamond in the rough, and they bought the Old Darlington Road property to build a home. Thus began the 10-year research that has culminated with the story of Along the Old Darlington Road.