Portage History


PORTAGE

The geographical development of Box Elder County involves several communities having their beginnings at about the same period of time.  While colonization pushed north out of Salt Lake City, there were other movements taking place from Cache Valley at the same time.  In 1867 the first settlers came to Portage from Wellsville.  They came to harvest the wild hay and settled on the east side of the valley.  In the following year, others came from Perry and Davis County areas.  The Parkinsons, Johns, Davis', Allens, Gibbs, Halls, Harrises, Conleys and others came in the 1867-1868 period.  During the summer of 1868, a day-schoolhouse was erected that was about 20 x 30 feet.  As in other early communities, the schoolhouse served all community purposes.

President Lorenzo Snow, President of the Box Elder Stake, visited the community of Hayton and changed the name to Portage after Portage County, Ohio, where he was born.  In 1872 the settlement moved from the east side of the valley to the west side.  This was done to tap irrigation water stored in the Samary Lake.  A canal 12 miles long was constructed, mostly with hand tools.  The Portage Ward was organized November 23, 1877, with Oliver Hoskins as bishop.

In 1880 Portage had 62 taxpayers on the county tax rolls.  The 1990 census lists 218 residents now living in the quiet, rural town.