About Brigham City
Brigham City has rich history
Brigham City's history of pioneer settlement begins late in 1850 when William Davis and Simeon Carter came to Box Elder and selected a site on which to build homes, then returned to Salt Lake City for the winter.
In March 1851 Davis, James Brooks and Thomas Pierce returned to Box Elder Creek where they built a row of log rooms known as the "Davis Fort" and located in the northwest part of town. Within the year they were joined by several other families, including Carter.
Henry G. Sherwood surveyed farms of 40-80 acres at the Box Elder settlement, extra-large because the rocky nature of the soil meant larger plots were needed to sustain a family.
Families were glad, in the spring of 1852, to move from the cramped and bedbug-infested fort and begin building cabins and farming their plots.
In 1853 settlers received an order from Brigham Young to move into forts because of increasing Indian hostilities in some areas of the Territory. A second fort was built at Box Elder, formed of low houses close enough together for enclose the area on three sides, with the south side open and a larger log building erected as a meeting house and school.
A stone monument at 300 North and 200 West shows the approximate location of this fort.
That same summer the first LDS immigrant company composed entirely of Scandinavians arrived in Utah, led by John Forsgren whose wife was the daughter of Bishop William Davis. Many of those settled in Brigham City.
LDS Fall Conference in 1853 was an important one for Box Elder, with Elder Lorenzo Snow directed to select 50 families to colonize the community. As was the custom, these families were to include various types of craftsmen in order to make the community self-sufficient.
Elder Snow wanted Box Elder to be a model Mormon village, so directed Territorial Surveyor Jesse W. Fox to divide the large farms into smaller parcels, mostly five-acre lots, in order to make room for the newcomers. Most of the contingent of new settlers arrived in the spring.
As Box Elder grew, so did the need for a proper building for church, theatre, social and county government, which at that time was vested in the church leaders. The center of town, Main and Forest, was the logical location and rock walls for a basement were laid by the fall of 1856. This was roofed over with slabs and put to use as a cozy meeting place for the winter.
The original adobe structure, built in 1857, still forms the core of the present courthouse, making it the oldest remaining courthouse in Utah. It was a dignified federal style square building, updated in 1887 with an attractive Italianate style cornice, window heads and a clock/bell tower.
In 1910 the courthouse was enlarged and changed significantly with a whole new front section built onto the original building. The 1887 bell tower was removed and a larger tower was centered on the new section. It was also at this time that the graceful columns were lifted to create the attractive building familiar to modern-day residents.
A Utah Statehood Centennial project in 1996 has been to repaint the courthouse, including the beehive and vines above the front entrances. The interior is also being repainted and will have framed county historical photos throughout.
By 1865 Brigham City had approximately 1,500 residents and flourishing local businesses. Lorenzo Snow, encouraged by Brigham Young's idea of a self-sufficient society, called together other leaders to form a cooperative.
Establishment of home industries was an important part of the cooperative movement. A tannery was built in 1869 and soon to follow were a boot and shoe shop, harness shop, butchery, woolen factory, sheep herd, sawmill, carpentry shop, dairy, hats and millinery, brush factory, pottery, tailoring and clothing, brick and adobe yard, plus a mercantile store.
The cooperative issued scrip in various denominations with which to pay workers. This freed US currently for purchase of equipment and merchandise from outside the community, and also required employees to do their purchasing at the co-op.
Disaster in many forms struck the Brigham City Mercantile and Manufacturing Association: grasshoppers and drought destroyed crops, the woolen mill burned and rebuilt at great expense, a sawmill in Idaho was destroyed. Worst of all, in 1878 a tax was levied on the scrip issued by the cooperative. Combined with the other debts, the cooperative was officially dissolved.
In 1884 the Supreme Court ruled on the tax case, favoring both ZCMI and the Brigham City Co-op, and the money was returned. It came too late to save the home industries, but was used to build a magnificent new store in the center of town, Main and Forest. It is now First Security Bank.
Turn of Century
The Turn of the Century, for the most part, was a prosperous time for Brigham City. Many of the now-existent downtown buildings were erected, magnificent new homes were built, including a good number with mansard roofs.
Residents celebrated Utah's Statehood in January 1896 with a program in the Box Elder Tabernacle. Almost exactly a month later, the building was lost in a devastating fire which burned it to the stone walls in one hour. The entire community banded together, raised money, and dedicated a new tabernacle the following year.
Today's multi-spired building, which underwent a historically accurate restoration in 1987, appears as it did after its rebuilding in 1897. It is open for tours daily, except Sundays.
Peach Days was also a Turn of the Century creation. Established in 1904 and observed annually, it is Utah's oldest continuous harvest celebration.
Brigham City experienced the same ups and downs as did the nation in the Twenties and Thirties. Men and boys went off to war, citizens were quarantined and nursed through the flu epidemic, they learned the Charleston, then experienced the hardship of the Great Depression.
World War II began the second great influx of newcomers into the community. As local soldiers and sailors were leaving, war wounded arrived on incoming trains for treatment at Bushnell Army Hospital which was open from 1942-46.
To attract the facility to Brigham City, city fathers had agreed to purchase a huge plot of land in the southwest part of town and deeded it to the federal government.
Doctors and nurses, military personnel, wounded patients, plus their families arrived in Brigham City. Most left, but some remained when the facility closed.
The buildings sat empty for a short period after the hospital's closure, then opened in 1949-50 as Intermountain Indian School, a boarding school for Navajo Indian children. This school evolved into a four-year high school, renamed Intermountain InterTribal School, as it was expanded to include students from almost 100 tribes.
In addition to students, this facility brought in teachers and other support employees who made their homes in Brigham City. It also brought local residents a new awareness and appreciation for Native American culture and issues, and the community was saddened when the school closed in the mid-1980s.
By this time, however, Brigham City and Box Elder County's economic base had been broadened as Thiokol Chemical Corporation chose the area to open a facility at Promontory, about 25 miles west of Brigham City, in 1957-58. Its primary product was solid rocket fuel for military and space industry use. Employment soared to over 6,000.
This meant new homes, new water and sewer systems, new schools, new churches sprang up.
What it also meant was that Brigham City and Box Elder County came to the attention of national companies as a good place to locate to find a loyal workforce, accepting atmosphere and quality lifestyle. Among larger employers attracted to the area were American Greetings, Nucor and Vulcraft, La-Z-Boy and Morton International.
The home page has a great deal of local information.
It includes the current city council agenda and council meeting minutes.
A newcomers View
Bear River Bird Refuge noted in wildlife guide
Brigham city named a Tree City USA