Agency History #3086


The first permanent settlers in the area of present-day Brigham City established themselves on the banks of Box Elder Creek in 1851. Within the first year 39 families joined them. In 1853 Brigham Young chose this site for the development of an outlying community and called Apostle Lorenzo Snow to relocate there with 50 families. Two companies of Scandinavian immigrants joined Snow's contingency. Apostle Snow named the settlement Brigham City in honor of Brigham Young. A progressive leader, Snow organized a cooperative mercantile in which many Brigham City residents owned shares. The mercantile started with a tannery and expanded to include a woolen mill, general store, and a wide variety of agricultural pursuits. Brigham City became a model Mormon community.

Brigham City was incorporated by the Governor and Legislative Assembly on 10 February 1867. The territorial charter established community boundaries and provided guidelines for city government. It established a city council consisting of a mayor and five councilors to be elected by qualified voters. In the same year the charter was granted, Brigham City voters elected Mayor Chester Loveland, and then reelected him for three additional terms. In March 1875 Brigham City voters elected Mayor John D. Rees. When Rees became mayor the city council began meeting regularly, keeping minutes, and drafting ordinances.


The original charter granted the city council authority to levy and collect taxes, and to appoint and remove from office a city recorder, treasurer, assessor, street supervisor, marshal and any other officers they deemed necessary. The charter granted the council authority to execute city ordinances as necessary to protect the peace, benefit, good order, regulation, convenience, and cleanliness of the city and the health and well being of its inhabitants. It gave the council exclusive power to regulate merchants and retailers, theaters and exhibitions, gaming and disorderly houses, manufacturing, and liquors.

Increasing the supply of water for irrigation was one of the city council's first concerns. To accomplish this the council imposed a water tax (1876) and built a canal on Box Elder Creek at Mantua. Ongoing, the council has provided management of Brigham City irrigation water and the construction of irrigation ditches.

Early Brigham City mayors were involved in the distribution of town site lots under the Town Site Act ("An Act for the Relief of the Inhabitants of Cities and Towns upon the Public Lands" Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamations, of the United States of America, 1867 vol. 14, chap. 176). In addition to the mayor issuing deeds to claimants, the city council appropriated unclaimed lots for church buildings, schools and other public purposes. The council's involvement with town site lot issues continued well into the 20th century.

From the beginning the Brigham City council promoted community development and beautification. Early city fathers planted shade trees, developed parks, improved city thoroughfares and sidewalks, and designated ground for a cemetery. In 1892 the city completed construction of culinary water works which were expanded in 1905, 1912, and 1917. Throughout the century the city has continued to maintain and expand the water works by both purchasing springs and drilling for underground water. The council granted permission for the setting of telegraph wires in 1891, and added a street lighting system in 1919. The city constructed a sewer system in 1928. Throughout the century, the city continued to maintain and build parks, and to establish improvement districts for sidewalks, streets, gutters, and sewers.

In 1893 the city contracted with Brigham City Electric Company to provide electricity for the city. In 1904 the city council canceled the contract and erected its own municipal power plant. In 1922 the city built a new hydroelectric plant and the city sponsored campaigns to promote the use of electricity. The city campaigned for a porch light on every house. Brigham City has continued to maintain and improve the power plant and has profited from the sale of surplus electricity.

The early Brigham City council appropriated water and land for railroad use and coordinated with the railroad to manage transients and fruit peddlers at the railroad depot. The city council donated land for the construction of a new railroad spur in 1928. Brigham City sponsored a Golden Spike Celebration in 1969.

Brigham City officials and LDS Church leaders organized the first Peach Day Celebration in 1904. The celebration included fruit displays and activities, and the city council hoped it would attract investors and settlers to Brigham City. For nearly a century the city council has continued to sponsor annual Peach Days and the event has grown to include concessions and parades.

The Brigham City council has aggressively promoted the establishment of businesses in Brigham City by offering free land, extending water lines, and granting tax breaks to willing businesses. The Utah-Idaho Sugar Company established a factory in Brigham City in 1919. In 1927 the city council donated land for building a National Guard Armory. In 1950 the council established the Intermountain Indian School in the large army hospital vacated at the end of World War II. The Indian School educated Native Americans of many tribes until 1984. In the post World War II era the council enticed the Thiokol Company to build a plant in Brigham City. The Brigham City Thiokol plant was involved in the production of military-grade rocket motors. The Thiokol military industrial complex brought significant growth to Brigham City and made this small agricultural community more cosmopolitan.

Population growth in the 1950s spurred the council to put increased emphasis on zoning, city planning and street improvements, as well as expansion of water and sewer systems, and the development of an airport. Throughout the second half of the century the city council has worked closely with the planning commission, particularly in the maintenance and development of Brigham City's downtown area.

In 1960 Brigham City built a large reservoir at Mantua in order to secure an adequate water supply. While the reservoir greatly benefited Brigham City, it created problems in Mantua. The Brigham City council became involved in law suits for damages in Mantua and in purchasing land around the reservoir to prevent suits. The council also became responsible for controlling fishing, boating, water skiing, and other recreational activities at the reservoir.

The Brigham City council became involved in an aggressive clean-up and beautification campaign in the 1960s. In 1968-1969 the city received national recognition for distinguished achievement in this area. The council created summer jobs for youth by hiring them to participate in community cleanup and beautification and to manage summer recreation activities.

The Brigham City council has been active in sponsoring community recreation. In addition to several community parks, the council has managed a municipal golf course since 1944, and municipal swimming pools and tennis courts since 1959. The council built a community center and community theater in 1979. Brigham City has sponsored baseball and softball leagues, swimming lessons, volley ball, tennis, a ski bus program and recreational equipment rental. In the 1990s the council sponsored a youth city council. The youth council, which functions in the same way as the city council, provides oversight of recreational activities for youth.


The Brigham City charter established a city council consisting of a mayor and five councilors elected by qualified voters for two year terms. Brigham City has a traditional municipal government. The mayor is the chief executive officer. He presides at city council meetings and signs all ordinances and official contracts on behalf of the city. The city council functions as a legislative governing body for the community. The mayor and city council are responsible for all aspects of city management, such as appointing city officials and setting their salaries, levying taxes, establishing a budget, maintaining public services and utilities, and regulating activity within the city.


The original city charter granted the city council power to appoint a recorder, treasurer, assessor, marshal and supervisor of streets, and all other such officers that they deemed necessary. The originally elected council appointed a city recorder, a marshal, and a city attorney. The 1875 council also appointed a building inspector and a chief of police. Additional offices created during the territorial period include: water master, sexton, supervisor of streets, pound keeper, treasurer, jailor, tax assessor and collector, and a committee on health and sanitation. In 1896 the city council created a fire department. About 1918 the city council hired a city manager. Throughout its history the Brigham City council has created or discontinued a number of appointments, committees and commissions. The council created a planning commission in 1956 and a board of adjustment in 1957. Though not a comprehensive list the Brigham City mayor currently appoints the following officials with the consent and approval of the city council: city recorder, treasurer, attorney, engineer, fire chief, police chief, city administrator, street superintendent, public power director, building inspector, building superintendent, water and waste treatment superintendents, public works director, sexton, golf course superintendent, parks superintendent, parks and recreation director, library director, senior citizens director, and museum gallery director.

COMPILED BY: Rosemary Cundiff , August 2002


Arrington, Leonard J. Great Basin Kingdom: Economic History of the Latter-Day Saints, 1830-1900. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966.

Brigham City (Utah). City council. Minutes, Utah State Archives (Series 3803).

Brigham City (Utah). City council. Ordinances, Utah State Archives (Series 3662).

Compiled Laws of the Territory of Utah, 1876. Title 24, Chapter 4. Huchel, Frederick M. A History of Box Elder County. Utah State Historical Society and Box Elder County Commission, 1999.

Page Last Updated July 2, 2003.