Bear River City
In the Uintah Mountains, a stream begins and winds itself through over a 500-mile course through Wyoming, Utah and Idaho. It enters the State of Wyoming, Utah and Idaho a total of five times during its journey. Ninety miles from where it begins, it enters the Great Salt Lake. North of the lake, it flows through a fertile valley known as Bear River Valley. The river was called "The Bear" by a trapper for the French and British Northwest Fur Company because of the many bears encountered along the river.
In April, 1866, Anne Anderson and family left Brigham City to help build a dam on the Malad River. They crossed the Bear River at a point called Boise Bend. This crossing was used by stagecoaches and other forms of travel on their way north. They reached the Malad River, but found it too salty for culinary purposes. They traveled south a few miles, and pitched their tents on the banks of the Bear River. Here they spent the winter along with other families that arrived, living in dugouts on the river bank, establishing the community of Bear River.
In 1867, a fort was built by the settlers to protect them from the Indians. In due time, forty or more families settled in the fort. They finished the dams and canals for the water system, but found that the water was injurious to the crops. Brigham Young encouraged them to stay, however, and promised them they would some day use water from the Bear River. Some found work on the railroad, while others became involved in freighting from Corinne to the Northern States. Also, there was a Co-op Farm across the river where many were employed.
A plat of the townsite was made in 1883, and the settlers moved from the fort to establish the town. On September 2, 1885, the County Court considered a petition from the citizens to incorporate the town. On March 1, 1886, Carl Jensen took office as the first Mayor of Bear River . At this time, he was also the Bishop of the L.D.S. (Mormon) Church in the area. The prominent religion in the community was and remains L.D.S. There are presently two L.D.S. Wards in Bear River City. Their church organization once reached Corinne on the south, Bothwell on the west and Portage on the north. It was all considered part of the Bear River community. The church house, built in 1899, is still in use today. An Opera House, built in 1904, burned down, and a larger recreation center was built which stands today.
The Bear River Valley started to blossom after the turn of the century. Men with foresight and ability found the means to bring the water from Bear River Canyon to the area. A canal was dug on both sides of the Bear River to accommodate all the land. The U & I Sugar Company sent brochures to surrounding states, enticing people to settle here. With the good water, Bear River did become a fertile valley. There are fifth and sixth generations of people descended from the early pioneers still living in Bear River. There are also people living in the surrounding communities who can trace their lineage to the original settlers of Bear River.
Farming was the mainstay of the residents. They raised a lot of canning crops, tomatoes, peas, corn, and beans. Now the crops are almost all hay and grain or silage corn for the beef and dairy animals. However, farming is no longer primary employment of many residents. Many now work at ATK (Formerly Thiokol Corporation), NuCor, and other nearby industries. There are several small family businesses in town. There have been a few stores come and go, but one small country store adjoining the post office is all that remains as larger cities have taken over merchandising.
The growth of the town has been curtailed due to the availability of culinary water. The water is supplied by a nonprofit corporation who bought springs above , and piped it down for the town's use. A sewer system has been installed.
The Daughters of the Pioneers have established and maintained a log home filled with relics of the Pioneer ancestry. They erected a granite monument with pioneer names inscribed on it. They also made the old schoolhouse bell into a monument. The monument is now on the grounds of our elementary school. It still is rung on special occasions and holidays as it was years ago.
The town has a large city park, complete with rodeo grounds, little league ball diamond, baseball diamond and soccer field. The 24th of July is a big celebration with parades, baby show, races, program and rodeo. It is a time for all to return and renew friendships.