Howell History
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Howell History

It is believed that the Shoshone Indians used this valley for a travel way from their tribal lands to the shores of the great Salt Lake.  Camping at Blue Creek Springs, along the Blue Creek and caves at Lampo and Promontory, they made their yearly journey.  Salt was a necessary part of their way of life.

After the completion of the railroad and the driving of the Golden Spike in 1869, many changes took place.  The Promontory Land & Livestock Company was formed by Charles Crocker.  Eventually their land holdings of alternate sections extended from the point of Promontory, north to the Idaho line and west to Nevada.  At one time they had as many as 30,000 head of cattle, with headquarters at Promontory, Howell, and the Dilly Ranch.  The winter of 1887-1888 was very severe, and by spring, several thousand cattle were dead.  T.L. Davis was the last manager, and the company dispersed in 1909.

The development of Howell was the result of a great land speculation and extensive campaign of salesmanship.  Some of the most influential men in the State of Utah backed the Promontory-Curlew Land Company, including Congressman Joseph Howell.  It was from Congressman Howell that the community of Howell received its name.  A millionaire businessman of Ogden also became interested in the project, and enough funds were obtained to purchase the entire Crocker holdings in Utah and Idaho.

In 1906 Elmer Sorensen recalled that when he first entered the valley, the only house was that of the Bar M Ranch with its bunk house, milk cellar, storeroom, machine shed and a barn.  The rest of the valley was open country.  The William Andersen and James Hansen farms to the north were fenced for horse pasture.  Elmer Sorensen worked for the Bar M Ranch Company, and in 1918 he and Jack Rich bought the cattle, most of the meadow land, the ranch house and corrals.  In 1927 Elmer bought out Rich's holdings.

The first permanent private residence was that of Nephi Nessen who purchased 1,000 acres in 1909 from the Promontory-Curlew Project.  He broke 300 acres that first year; and in 1910, he moved his family to the valley.  Other earlier settler families were those of John L. Baxter, J.D. Cravens, Charles E. Gunnell, Cyrus A. Bailey, Joseph Carlsen, Fred E. Douglas, Christian Fonnesbeck, Arch Rock, George Wood, William M. Allen, Bert Barber, Elmer N. Maughn, Collin and Charlie Wood.  Many other families were to follow.

The first school session was held in 1910 in the southwest room of the "Big Red House".  The fall of 1911, school opened in the Bunk House at the Bar M Ranch, and by winter, the students moved into a new school house.  This was a two-room school, accommodating first through eighth grades.  Before the time of school buses, it was the responsibility of the parents to provide transportation for their children to get to school.  The first Sunday School was organized December 18, 1910 in a dependent branch of the Bothwell ward.  The Howell ward was organized April 18, 1915.  The first bishop was Charles E. Gunnell.

A reservoir was built for water storage from the Blue Creek Springs to be used for irrigation.  The Blue Creek Irrigation Company was formed in 1913, selling stock at this time.  The capacity of the reservoir was increased, and the East and West Side Canals were lengthened. In December 1926, the Promontory-Curlew Land Company deeded the townsite and the entire water system to Howell Ward.  The need of a town board became apparent to care for the water system, road improvements and the limited telephone system.  In 1941 the Articles of Incorporation were drawn up and John H. Forsgren was appointed Mayor by the County Commissioners in September of that year.

The post office has been in several store/home combinations at various locations.  The first location was know as the "Big Red House."  In 1946 electricity was available in the valley.  Many homes had already obtained electric appliances and were anxiously awaiting this day.  Between 1948 and 1949 dial telephones began to replace the few crank phones.

Many people have come to this valley and many people have left.  Many changes and improvements in farming and in living styles have affected the way of life.  But everyone pulls together in time of need, showing care for all who live here, and those who remain know the joy of quiet, rural living.