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Snowville History


Snowville

Rabbits, thousands of them, were the chief troublemakers in early Snowville history.  Other localities in the pioneer west had their cricket invasions, as did Snowville in 1877.  Rabbits, however, were the chief pest both in 1877 and 1879.  Crop destruction during these years caused such a crisis that there were some who advocated breaking up the settlement in 1880 on the grounds that people could not make a living there.  Had the movement to give up the town succeeded, Snowville's ten-year history of difficult frontier problems and sacrifices on the part of its settlers may never have reached further attention.  But there were many who had faith in Snowville's future.  They stuck to their lands, undaunted by nature and rabbits, and they finally began to harvest some sizeable crops.  Their town, though still not large, has farms and homes that are secure because of the land's productiveness.

Snowville, about three miles south of the Idaho border in Box Elder County, is the center of farming and dairying activities in the Curlew Valley.  This valley extends approximately forty-two miles from southern Idaho to the Great Salt Lake on the south.  Snowville is on the east side of Curlew Valley and is separated from Park Valley on the west by a low spur of mountains extending from the Clear Creek Mountains in a southeasterly direction toward the Great Salt Lake.

Deep Creek, which occupies an important place in the history of Snowville and Curlew Valley, rises from springs twelve miles north of Snowville and sinks near Houtz Ranch seven miles to the southwest.  Lorenzo Snow, then a member of the quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and later the Church's fifth president, prophesied that Deep Creek would be an "everlasting stream whose water should never diminish, and one from which many should come to drink."  Even in parched years, Deep Creek never lowered.

In 1870 the first settlers came to the Curlew Valley from Malad, Idaho, and settled near the present site of Snowville on Deep Creek.  The settlement got a shot in the arm on May 12, 1876, when Arnold Goodliffe arrived to "take charge" of the few families there, under instruction from Lorenzo Snow.  The history of the next thirty years was pretty well built around Goodliffe who seemed to be a first-rate colonizer.  Upon arrival, he promptly took over the spiritual and temporal direction of his small flock.

Many people have wondered, and still do, if the community received its name because of its climate, since temperatures have dropped to 40 degrees below zero in the winter.  But the brethren wanted to honor Lorenzo Snow who had been almost like a godfather to the community.  They probably had no thought of winter when they selected a name.

A log house, 26 X 20 feet, was dedicated on April 22, 1877, as a combination school and meetinghouse.  Logs for the building had been hauled in from the Black Pine Mountains, thirty miles to the northwest.  The town changed its location on October 24, 1878, from the west side of Deep Creek to the east side where the present town site was surveyed and lots were issued to the citizens.  Another milestone was reached in 1887 when the first rock schoolhouse was built.

Another disastrous date in Snowville's history which ranks in importance with the rabbit invasion in 1879, was March 12, 1934, when a series of earthquakes centered around the north end of Great Salt Lake caused considerable damage in Snowville.  The meetinghouse, the public school building, and a number of homes were damaged.

The town was incorporated November 6, 1933.  Hard surfaced roads came to the community on November 15 of that same year.  The community now had a telephone system, electric power, culinary water system, a post office, service station and convenience store, eating establishments, R. V. campground, motel, park, an international fish food-processing manufacturing company, and a beautiful all-brick L.D.S. church house.

Students from grades 6 through 12 are transported 40 miles by bus to schools in Tremonton.  The last population census taken in 1989 reports 251 people living in Snowville.  Many of them now have employment elsewhere, such as the Black Pine Mine ten miles west, and Thiokol Corporation, thirty miles to the east.