davis history

For those who may be unfamiliar with the County, we offer a brief introduction. Davis County is Utah's smallest county in land area. It is a narrow strip of land only 223 square miles but is the third largest county in population. An estimated 248,000 residents live in the County's fifteen communities. Frequented by Shoshone Indians during historic times, the area was among the first settled by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1847. The lush lake-bottom pastures, fertile soils of the bench lands, and streams flowing out of the high Wasatch Mountains on the east attracted early settlers, who established small farms and close-knit communities. These early settlers established schools, built homes and churches, and created productive farms and shops.

Named after the early pioneer leader, Daniel C. Davis, the County was established as a territory in 1850. The territorial legislature created Davis County in 1852 and designated its County seat at Farmington, midway between boundaries at the Weber River on the north and the mouth of the Jordan River on the south. Westward, the County includes a portion of the Great Salt Lake and its largest island, on which Antelope Island State Park is now located.

During its first half-century, Davis County grew slowly. It supported a hardy pioneer people engaged in irrigation agriculture and raising livestock. The Utah Central Railroad (now the Union Pacific) crossed the County from Ogden on the north to Salt Lake City on the south in 1870 and offered welcome transportation links to bring in manufactured products. This was the beginning of a transition in the County's history that led to mechanized agriculture and a surge of commerce, banking, and local business, along with improved roads, new water systems, and the electrification of homes and businesses.

After the turn of the century, the County's 8,000 residents joined in a chorus of boosterism that encouraged growth, but by 1940 the population was barely 16,000. The small family farms and local businesses could support no greater increase. Consequently, many of the younger generation left for new settlements in northern Utah and nearby Idaho and Wyoming.

As the age of the automobile and interurban railways created greater mobility, many County citizens looked to Ogden and Salt Lake City for employment and cultural enrichment. Market gardens, dairy farms, beef cattle, orchards, and fields of grain and sugar beets continued to sustain local farmers. World War II then introduced a new way of life in Davis County. The establishment of Hill Air Force Base in northern Davis County and other defense installations nearby created a surge of civilian employment. Hill AFB quickly became and remains one of the state's largest employers.

Diversification brought rapid post-war growth. The County doubled in population between 1940 and 1950, and doubled again in the next decade. Between 1960 and 1980, the population more than doubled again, from 65,000 to 147,000. By 1990 the population had reached 188,000 and the 2000 census recorded 238,994. Being the fastest growing of the four major urban communities along the Wasatch Front, Davis County is projected to build out with a population near 390,000 by the year 2030.

Accompanying this growth has been a diversification of population and a new prosperity. Davis County now enjoys a wide mix of people representing many ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds. The County has moved from its traditional agricultural dependency to an interlocking network of suburban communities around a core of original towns with closeness in proximity to downtown Salt Lake City. The communications age has tied Davis County to the world. Its citizens today are part of an economic and social pattern that reaches far beyond the County's tiny geographical limits.

Today, many nationally known commercial, industrial, recreational, and service companies provide diversified employment opportunities for residents of Northern Utah. The Freeport Center is the largest distribution center in the State of Utah with more than seven million square feet of covered storage and five million square feet of open storage occupied by more than 70 renowned companies employing some 7,000 employees.

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