Bear River (Utah)

Entity: 109
Entity Type: Municipality


Mormon Scandinavian immigrants from Brigham City established Bear River City or Bear River on the banks of the tributary of the same name in 1866. Original settlers chose this site because they believed they could dam the Malad River and receive ample water for their farm land. Unfortunately, this plan was foiled because water from the Malad was diverted further up stream. Once established, the settlers remained and eventually drew water from the Bear River. This small farming community became incorporated 22 September 1885.

Biography/History Notes

Utah municipal governments perform numerous functions, including the maintaining of law and order, guarding public health and sanitation, promoting recreation, and constructing and maintaining streets, sidewalks, water works, and sewers. Bear River adopted city ordinances to regulate these functions in 1886. These ordinances were revised and rewritten in 1898 and rewritten again and published in 1906. Over the years the town board modified these published ordinances or charter by passing ordinances relating to specific issues, such as cemetery plats, bowling alleys, pool halls and the sale of fire works. New ordinances also regulated new innovations such as electricity, telephones and sewers. In 1998 the Bear River town board adopted the land management and development code which establishes zoning districts and specifies regulations for each of these districts.

The town board in Bear River found their greatest ongoing challenge to be the maintenance of a viable irrigation system. They continually adjusted and adapted this system as they labored to build ditches and keep them in repair, to collect irrigation taxes and cultivate cooperation among residents over irrigation issues. A water system organized in 1919 brought culinary water to the community in 1924. In addition to managing irrigation, Bear River's municipal government has worked to maintain the city cemetery and also a large city park complete with ball diamonds, rodeo grounds and other recreational facilities. The town contracted with Utah Power and Light Company to procure street lights in 1916. They paved the town roads in 1939 and built a sewer system in the 1970s. In 1998 the Bear River planning commission and town board implemented zoning regulations designed to maintain the community's rural setting. Agriculture is no longer the community's main livelihood, but Bear River has become a bedroom community for people who work in Brigham City or Tremonton. Zoning regulations implemented in 1998 were designed to maintain the community's rural setting.

Bear River settlers established a town board (1886) which consisted of a president and four trustees. The town board functioned as a legislative governing body for the community and its members were elected for two year terms. The board president was the chief executive for the community and it was his job to see that ordinances were carried out.

The town board appoints a number of town officers. During the first twenty years, the board made a number of adjustments to both town offices and their responsibilities. However, as revised (1906) the town officers include a town clerk who keeps plats, records and publishes ordinances and signs contracts; a treasurer who handles and accounts for money; a town marshal who is responsible to take criminals into custody, respond to nuisance reports and aid citizens; a supervisor of streets who manages the maintenance of streets sidewalks and bridges; a pound keeper who controls animals within the town limits; a sexton who administers burials and the upkeep of the town cemetery; a water master who oversees all matters relating to the town irrigation system; and a board of health which is responsible to enforce health laws and supervise all matters relating to sanitation and contagious diseases.


Public administration