Agency History #222


The town of Corinne in Box Elder County was established in 1868 and incorporated as a third class city on February 18, 1870 (City seal). Corinne was designed to be the freight-transfer point for the shipment of goods and supplies to the mining towns of western Montana along the Montana Trail. The citizens of this "gentile" city intended to compete with the Mormon dominated Salt Lake City. The city council was created for the administration of municipal business relating to the health, safety, and general welfare of the community.


Municipalities are general-purpose governments, with broad authority for the health, safety, and welfare of their residents. This includes providing for police and fire protection, administration of justice through Justice Courts, provision of public works such as roads and water systems, establishment and enforcement of licensing requirements, and the establishment of building codes.

The council's first two years in office were its most active. During the first few weeks, the mayor and the city council passed many ordinances. They adopted regulations to license dogs and to prevent pigs from running through the streets. They created an ordinance to curb "Gaming and Houses of Ill Fame." In addition, they passed ordinances devoted to public health; licenses for circuses and other exhibitions; ordinances which prohibited swimming and bathing in the Bear River within the city limits; mandates instructing the marshal to inspect the flues and chimneys of all houses for possible fire hazards; and ordinances which prohibited individuals from carrying concealed weapons or discharging firearms in the streets. The council also tried to curb the activities of minors as is evident in the ordinance which prevented saloon keepers from allowing boys under the age of 21 to drink liquor or play billiards, cards, or dice. The Utah Reporter was named the official paper of the city with the expectation that the editor would publish all actions of the council free of charge.

The non-Mormon citizens of Corinne tried to distinguish themselves from Utah's predominant Mormon population in almost any way possible. One of the first ordinances the city council passed abolished polygamy within city limits on March 17, 1870. They staged elaborate fourth of July celebrations to demonstrate their patriotism. In consequence, the city council prohibited fireworks inside the business district due to the fire hazard. They established a public "free school" which was funded by taxes. Brigham Young was adamantly opposed to public schools because they were funded by taxpayers, therefore not under the control of the Mormon church. Unfortunately, Corinne's free school suffered from delinquent taxes. The city council continually struggled with budgeting and finance problems due in part to unpaid taxes.

Corinne was active in the freight business until the Utah and Northern railroad was completed in 1878, thereby cutting off the wagon traffic by creating a faster route from Montana to Ogden and the Union Pacific railroad. The population fell from a high of 1500 in the early 1870s to about 300 in 1878. Mormon farmers purchased land from those leaving and the town eventually became predominantly agricultural and Mormon. The town declined as an active hub for shipping and quickly became a farming community which lacked sufficient fresh water. During the 1940s springs were added to the City water system to accommodate western Corinnethians and continued to be added until 1990.


Corinne had a temporary city government from 1868 to 1870, but the absence of a city charter and legally constituted election processes led to abuses in the administration. The citizens sent a petition to the territorial legislature on February 14, 1870 which asked permission to institute a city charter. It was approved on February 18, 1870. The charter provided for a mayor, ten councilors, two justices of the peace, a recorder, treasurer, assessor and collector, and a marshal and supervisor of the streets. The ten councilors were to serve five for one year and five for two years. Currently, Corinne's city government consists of a mayor, a council with four councilors, a city recorder, auditor, maintenance supervisor, and planning and zoning commissioner.


On March 10, 1870, the Corinne City Council held its first meeting. They read the charter and determined the terms of the councilors. The mayor announced the following committees: credentials, finances, ordinances, police, licenses, streets and public improvements, city plat, and the creation of the city seal. Soon thereafter they formed a committee to construct a city jail. During this first year in office, they also created the office of City Attorney, a City Treasurer, a Fire Department, and a Police Department.

General J. A. Williamson, 1869, Temporary city government
W. H. Munro, 1870-1872
John W. Graham, 1872-1874
H. E. Hurlbut, 1874
E.P. Johnson, 1875
John W. Guthrie, 1878-1887
Alexander Toponce,1887-1889
John W. Guthrie, 1889-1895
Jim D. Pitt, 1896-1897
R. Guthrie, 1898-1900
G. R. Cleaveland, 1900
C. W. Lawrence, 1900-1903
J. Y. Ferry, 1904-1905
W. F. House, 1906-1911
J. Y. Ferry, 1912-1917
W. F. House, 1918-1919
James G. Foxley, 1920-1921
W. F. House, 1922-1923
Thomas Bosley, 1924-1925
George H. Davis, 1930-1931
J. Y. Ferry, 1926-1929
Horace M. Turner, 1932-1935
Fred E. Bradford, 1935-1941
Leo H. Gilbert, 1942-1943
H. Ethelburt Larsen, 1944-1945
Fred E. Bradford, 1945-1946
Chet E. Rader, 1946-1949
H. Ethelburt Larsen, 1950-1953
L. V. Mills, 1954-1957
H. Ethelburt Larsen, 1958-1961
Fred E. Bradford, 1962-1965
Samuel L. Forsgren Jr., 1966-1969
Joseph Davidson, 1970-1973
Don C. Miller, 1974-1981
Robert C. Gilbert, 1982-1985
Donald Cutler, 1986-1988
Fred Greener, 1988-1993
Jack Olsen, 1994-1997
Lynn Wixom, 1998
DaVon Day, 1998-2000

COMPILED BY: M. Call, May 2000


Corinne (Utah). City Council minutes, Utah State Archives, (Series 3659).

Corinne (Utah). City ordinances, Utah State Archives, (Series 22379).

Huchel, Frederick M., A History of Box Elder County. Utah State Historical Society; Box Elder County Commission (Salt Lake City: 1999).

Madsen, Brigham D., Corinne: The Gentile Capital of Utah. Utah State Historical Society (Salt Lake City: 1980).

Powell, Alan Kent, ed., Utah History Encyclopedia. University of Utah Press (Salt Lake City: 1994).

Utah League of Cities and Towns. Directory of Local Government Officials. (1993).

Page Last Updated July 2, 2003.