Utah Department of Administrative Services

Division of Archives & Records Service

BEAR RIVER (UTAH)

Agency History #109

CREATION

Mormon Scandinavian immigrants from Brigham City established Bear River City or Bear River on the banks of the tributary of the same name in 1866. Original settlers chose this site because they believed they could dam the Malad River and receive ample water for their farm land. Unfortunately, this plan was foiled because water from the Malad was diverted further up stream. Once established, the settlers remained and eventually drew water from the Bear River. This small farming community became incorporated 22 September 1885.

FUNCTIONS

Utah municipal governments perform numerous functions, including the maintaining of law and order, guarding public health and sanitation, promoting recreation, and constructing and maintaining streets and sewers. Bear River adopted city ordinances in 1886. These ordinances were revised and rewritten in 1898 and rewritten again and published in 1906. Most early revisions related to irrigation. Over the years the town board modified these published ordinances or charter by passing ordinances relating to specific issues, such as cemetery plats, bowling alleys, pool halls and the sale of fire works. New ordinances also regulated new innovations such as electricity, telephones and sewers. In 1998 the Bear River town board adopted the land management and development code which establishes zoning districts and specifies regulations for each of these districts.

The town board in Bear River found their greatest ongoing challenge to be the maintenance of a viable irrigation system. They continually adjusted and adapted this system as they labored to build ditches and keep them in repair, to collect irrigation taxes and cultivate cooperation among residents over irrigation issues. A water system organized in 1919 brought culinary water to the community in 1924. In addition to managing irrigation, Bear River's municipal government has worked to maintain the city cemetery and also a large city park complete with ball diamonds, rodeo grounds and other recreational facilities. The town contracted with Utah Power and Light Company to procure street lights in 1916. They paved the town roads in 1939 and built a sewer system in the 1970s. In 1998 the Bear River planning commission and town board implemented zoning regulations designed to maintain the community's rural setting. Agriculture is no longer the community's main livelihood, but Bear River has become a bedroom community for people who work in Brigham City or Tremonton. Zoning regulations implemented in 1998 were designed to maintain the community's rural setting.

ADMINISTRATION

Bear River settlers established a town board (1886) which consisted of a president and four trustees. The town board functioned as a legislative governing body for the community and its members were elected for two year terms. The board president was the chief executive for the community and it was his job to see that ordinances were carried out.

ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY

The town board appointed a number of town officers. During the first twenty years the board made a number of adjustments to both town offices and the responsibilities assigned to those offices, but as revised (1906) the town officers include a town clerk who keeps plats, records and publishes ordinances and signs contracts; a treasurer who handles and accounts for money; a town marshal who is responsible to take criminals into custody, respond to nuisance reports and aid citizens; a supervisor of streets who manages the maintenance of streets sidewalks and bridges; a pound keeper who controls animals within the town limits; a sexton who administers burials and the upkeep of the town cemetery; a. water master who oversees all matters relating to the town irrigation system; and a board of health which is responsible to enforce health laws and supervise all matters relating to sanitary conditions and contagious diseases.

BOARD PRESIDENTS
Carl Jensen, 1886-1888
M.C. Mortensen, 1888-1892
C.C. Johnson, 1892-1898
P.M. Hansen, 1898-1900
Alma Nelson, 1900-1902
Peter C. Jensen, 1902-1904
Anton Christensen, 1904-1906
Frede F. Petersen, 1906-1910
John P. Holmgren, 1910-1914
George A. Christensen, 1914-1916
William P. Jensen, 1916-1920
A.E. Holmgren, 1920-1922
Frede F. Petersen, 1922-1926
Ephriam Christensen, 1926-1928
Peter S. Jensen, 1928-1932
A.J. Taylor, 1932-1936
Benjamin P. Mortensen, 1936-1938
George A. Gardner, 1938-1940
James L. Anderson, 1940-1942
Parley O. Holmgren, 1942-1946
Austin L. Johnson, 1946-1950
Rueben O. Holmgren, 1950-1954
Parley O. Holmgren, 1954-1958
Lester P. Anderson, 1958-1962
Lee C. Johnson, 1962-1970
Elmo Christensen, 1970-1974
Lee C. Johnson, 1974-1978
Elmo Christensen, 1978-1982
Richard Del Holmgren, 1982-1986
Roger L. Dallin, 1986-1990
Robert E. Nelson, 1990-1998
Steven L. Holmgren, 1998-

COMPILED BY: Rosemary Cundiff, February 2001

SOURCES

Bear River (Utah). Town board minutes, Utah State Archives, (Series 10619).

Bear River (Utah). City ordinances, Utah State Archives, (Series 22124).

Bear River (Utah). Planning commission minutes, Utah State Archives, (Series 23353)

Bear River (Utah). Land management and development code, Utah State Archives, (Series 23354).

Huchel, Frederick M., A History of Box Elder County. Utah State Historical Society; Box Elder County Commission (Salt Lake City: 1999).