The Union Pacific met the Central Pacific at Promontory Summit in 1869, tying America together by rail. And you’ve gotta wonder, did one side stall just a little to make sure they finished in lovely Box Elder, Utah?
When the final piece of railroad track was laid, the county was dotted with all kinds of natural beauty, including three soon-to-be national forests, binoculars-full of migrating birds and mineral-rich hot springs. Where is Box Elder County? Smack dab in the middle of a barren desert. And a forest. The northwest corner of Utah, that is.
Earth and Sky
Today, you’ll also find some interesting human-made features. Check out the Spiral Jetty, laid out by land artist Robert Smithson on the north shore of the Great Salt Lake. Or contemplate the universe while exploring the Sun Tunnels designed by Nancy Holt. Continue your cosmic journey by examining shells of space rockets and missiles at the Rocket Garden. And when you’re ready to come back down to earth, dine at Utah’s longest operating restaurant Idle Isle, then get some heavenly ice cream from Peach City.
Not-So-Big City Life
Settled in 1851 by three families, Brigham City is now the most populous place in Box Elder County, Utah. It was originally called Davis Fort, but was later renamed after Brigham Young, second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Despite a growing number of motels, convenience stores and golf courses, Brigham still feels like a small town.
Buildings and Birds
Brigham City has several historic structures worth checking out, including a stately courthouse with a clock in its dome and the Gothic-style Box Elder Tabernacle. Spanning Brigham City's Main Street, an arch completed in 1928 proclaims the city as the gateway to the world’s greatest bird refuge. Indeed, the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is an impressive place for viewing and listening to winged creatures, from ducks to songbirds.
Things to See
If you prefer people watching, visit Brigham City during its annual Peach Days. The harvest celebration is held the weekend after Labor Day and includes a popular car show, beard competition, fun run and baby contest. And a peach cook-off, of course.
Swing into Tremonton for the Box Elder County Fair in late August. The lineup includes all the classics: mutton busting, 4-H exhibits, hog show, tractor pull, a bandstand and a chuckwagon breakfast. Yee-haw!
From Brigham City, U.S. Route 89 takes you northeast through the mountains to Logan, Bear Lake and eventually Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. If you head northwest along state Route 13 — about 32 miles — you’ll find the Golden Spike National Historic Site. Here, the final spike was driven to complete the first transcontinental railroad in the U.S.
Appropriately, along the way to the site you’ll pass another place that specializes in transportation. Northrop Grumman, just north of Corrine, builds solid rocket motors here for both civil and commercial projects.
About one mile before reaching the Golden Spike site, take a jaunt over to Chinese Arch. The natural limestone arch was named for the thousands of Chinese laborers who worked on the historic railroad.
Along the Way
From Salt Lake City, you can reach Brigham by driving along either I-15 or U.S. 89. The latter is more scenic, but will take you a bit longer. The area along U.S. 89 from Brigham south to Willard is known as Utah's Fruitway. During the growing seasons, all types of farm fresh produce and plants are sold from roadside stands.
From I-15, you can see the Great Salt Lake and Willard Bay — a freshwater reservoir to the east. Both bodies of water are prized for sailing, boating and other water recreation. During the winter months — especially February — watch for bald eagles in trees near the reservoir, and perhaps even on it.
TRAVEL BUREAU INFORMATION
BOX ELDER COUNTY
1 South Main St.
Brigham City, UT 84302
Box Elder | Photo Gallery
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