From OnlineUtah: Lewiston, Utah, is located in the geographic center of Cache Valley, twenty miles northwest of Logan and ten miles south of Preston, Idaho. The town occupies a triangularly shaped land area of approximately 24 square miles, with a base along the Utah-Idaho state boundary in the north, and extends southward between the Bear River on the west and the Cub River on the east to a point where the two streams join in the south. The area is almost entirely flat and contains some of the most productive agricultural land in the state.
Lewiston has always been an agricultural community. The dairying and livestock industries are predominant, and most crops are grown to support them. Some acreage is devoted to supplying vegetables to canneries in the area, but wheat, barley, and alfalfa are the major crops produced. Sugar beets, an important crop for many years, declined in importance after the town’s sugar factory closed in 1972. Many residents supplement their farm incomes by working in local factories or through other non-farm occupations.
The town of Logan was founded in 1859 by settlers sent by Brigham Young to survey for the site of a fort near the banks of the Logan River. They named their new community “Logan” for Ephraim Logan, an early fur trapper in the area. Logan was incorporated on 17 January 1866. Brigham Young College was founded here in 1878 (but later closed), and Utah State University – then called the Agricultural College of Utah – was founded in 1888.
Logan’s growth reflects settlement and post-war booms along with other changes incident to conditions in the West. Logan grew to about 20,000 in the mid-1960s, and according to Census estimates, exceeded 50,000 in 2015.
Originally known as “Summit Creek”, Smithfield was founded in 1857 by Robert Thornley and his cousin Seth Langdon who were sent north from Salt Lake City by Brigham Young to found a settlement on Summit Creek. After a preliminary scouting, Robert returned with his new wife Annie Brighton. The first winter was spent in a wagon box. By the next summer, with more settlers arriving, a small fort was built on the edge of the creek, one cabin of which remains. As the settlement grew, a bishop was named and the town took his name. By 1917 the town had planted trees on both sides of its Main Street and had acquired a Carnegie library and a Rotary club. Dependent for many years on dairying, a Del Monte canning factory, and the sugar beet industry, the town is now essentially a bedroom community for Logan and its Utah State University.
Nibley was named after Charles W. Nibley, a leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The population was 5,438 at the 2010 census. It is included in the Logan, Utah-Idaho (partial) Metropolitan Statistical Area and is a suburb or ‘bedroom’ community of Logan. Historically a rural area, Nibley has experienced significant growth within the last decade, more than doubling its population in under 10 years.
Mendon City, in Cache County, with a 1990 census population of 687, is eight miles west by southwest of Logan and five miles north of Wellsville on county road 23. Situated near the confluence of the Little Bear and Logan rivers, the town lies snug against Wellsville Mountain between converging foothills on the west side of Cache Valley. Mendon epitomizes the landscape of the Mormon village: it was located to take advantage of water, arable land, climate conditions, defense possibilities, and accessibility.
In the spring of 1855, Alexander and Robert Hill, brothers from Mill Creek in Salt Lake Valley, drove a herd of range cattle over the mountains from Malad Valley to Cache Valley. They built a cabin at the site of Mendon and started farms. In 1856 William Gardner and his family settled to the south of the townsite at Gardner’s Creek.
Spring of 1859 saw the beginning of a great influx of settlers from the Mill Creek and Big Cottonwood areas to North Settlement (beyond Maughan’s Fort). Most were immigrants from England, Scotland, and Denmark. Others came from the Atlantic coast, the Midwest, and Canada. They included the Anderson, Atkinson, Bird, Farr, Findley, Forster, Gibson, Jensen, Larsen, Lemmon, Luckham, Shumway, Sorensen, Sweeten, and Willie families. According to E.W. Tullidge, the date of arrival was 2 May 1859. Charles Shumway, a member of the Council of Fifty, served as LDS presiding elder, with James Willie, recent captain of the ill-fated Fourth Handcart Company (1856), as his counselor. The Richards brothers built a cabin, which became the first in a fort of log houses. Jesse Fox surveyed the site for the Territory of Utah. Ira Ames and George Snyder built a sawmill.
Providence lies 2½ miles south of Logan on State Route 238. Its 1990 census population was 3,344. Situated immediately east of the confluence of Spring Creek with the Logan River, the town lies astride a delta at the mouth of Providence Canyon and beneath 9,000-foot (2,700 m) Big Baldy Mountain. The settlement was located on Spring Creek to take advantage of water, arable land, timber resources, and existing trails.
As directed by LDS President Brigham Young, on 24 July 1855 Captain Briant Stringham, Simon Baker, Andrew Moffat, and Brigham Young, Jr., located headquarters for the Elkhorn Cattle Ranch on a spring of water near the west bank of the Blacksmith Fork River, immediately southwest of the present site of Providence. Subsequently, in the early spring of 1857, Samuel, Joseph, Aboile, and Nephi Campbell, and John Dunn, crossed the mountains from North Ogden into Cache Valley seeking a new place to settle. To them, the town they called “Ogden’s Hole” was becoming too crowded. They pitched camp at the present site of Providence, at a spring and pond where a creek from a canyon in the Bear River Range entered the alluvial lowland. To assess the fertility of the soil, the explorers broke sod and plowed a long furrow.
Plans were made for the immediate resettlement from North Ogden to Cache Valley of the Campbell and other families, but the move was interrupted by the approach of the U.S. Army with orders to force a military occupation of Utah Territory. The Weber County settlers evacuated their homes and moved south for temporary sanctuary on the “Provo bottoms,” and the Weber County brigade of the Nauvoo Legion passed through Cache Valley to conduct a defensive reconnoiter of the Bear River region. A number of these men subsequently returned to settle in Providence.
Settlers finally came to Spring Creek on 20 April 1859. Arriving first were Ira Rice, a sixty-five-year-old War of 1812 veteran from Massachusetts, and a thirty-five-year-old Welsh coal miner, Hopkin Mathews, accompanied by his teenage daughter Elizabeth. They were joined by the English-speaking Bowen, Busenbark, Campbell, Clark, Clifford, Dees, Dunn, Durfey, Gates, Hall, Lane, Maddison, Rammell, Thompson, Williams, and Wright families, plus the Gassman, Lau, and Theurer families, whose native tongue was German.
Douglas fir logs were cut and dragged from Spring Creek Canyon to build cabins. The houses faced one another across a narrow road, which could be closed with wagons at each end to make a fort. On 25 April 1859 Peter Maughan visited Spring Creek to establish a religious organization. He chose Samuel Campbell as presiding elder. The first indoor meetings were held in a log meeting-and-schoolhouse erected by John Maddison and William Fife. By August there were sixteen families living at the fort; the following month, a child (Hannah Priscilla Thompson) was born at Spring Creek.
On 14 November 1859 LDS apostles Orson Hyde and Ezra Benson organized the Providence Ward. Elder Hyde chose the name: “Spring Creek settlement being situated in an elbow of the mountains and appearing to us somewhat of a providential place, we named Providence.” Robert Williams was ordained as bishop. Two years later, when a U.S. post office was established in Providence, Williams was also named postmaster.
In 1860 John Theurer persuaded a number of fellow Swiss LDS converts (whose last names were Alder, Fuhriman, Kresie, Loosli, Naef, Stucki, and Trauber) to come to Spring Creek with its alpine setting. The Swiss tradition of community sauerkraut dinners continues to the present day in Providence. The village became a mix of Yankees, English, and Swiss, united by a common religious persuasion. As Providence was situated astride a Shoshoni trail from a winter camp on the Bear River to Bear Lake via Blacksmith Fork Canyon, church authorities advised that a more substantial fort be erected. A six-foot-high, two-and-one-half-foot-thick rock wall was built to enclose both the log houses and an open commons area.
On 23 November 1862, in the foothills just outside Providence, a two-hour skirmish was fought by sixty soldiers under the command of Major Edward McGarry of the U.S. Second Cavalry against thirty or forty Shoshonis under Chief Bear Hunter. The objective was to recover livestock and a ten-year-old white boy taken during the massacre of a wagon train on the Oregon Trail in August 1860. Three braves were killed and five others, including the chief, were captured. An exchange of the captives was made for the boy, Reuben Van Orman, who had been held for two years.
In 1864 the town was laid out into square 8-acre (32,000 m2) blocks, each divided into six lots of approximately one and one-third acres. East of Main Street the lots face north-south; they face east-west on the western side of town. The log structures, including the meeting/school building, were relocated from the fort onto the lots under the supervision of Bishop William Budge. On 4 September 1871 James Martineau completed his detailed official survey of Providence City. The cemetery was moved from the south end of town to a hill north of town. Construction was completed in 1871 on a rock meetinghouse and on a rock schoolhouse in 1877. The schoolhouse was replaced by a new building with a bell tower in 1904.
For more than a hundred years, the major activity of most of the people of Providence was farming. Irrigation canals were dug from the Spring Creek and from the Blacksmith Fork and Logan rivers. The livestock industry included the raising of beef cattle (1859), honey bees (1866), horses (1870), dairy cattle (1874), poultry (1918), and foxes (1928). The horticulture industry included growing grain and alfalfa; apple, cherry, pear, and prune orchards; and peas, beans, and sugar beets. Beginning in 1886 Joseph Alastor Smith established Edgewood Hall as a nursery and dairy operation on the bench overlooking Providence. After its twenty-eight-room manor burned to the ground on Labor Day of 1935, the 140-acre (0.57 km2) estate was acquired by Wall Street financier and Logan native L. Boyd Hatch. An elegant formal estate was created by Hatch, but he sold out in 1953 to cattleman Theron Bringhurst.
The commercial activities of Providence included private mercantile shops of Rice, Hargraves, and Theurer plus a ZCMI Co-op store (1869–1912). Many years after the Co-op structure burned, Watkins and Sons Printing established a business in a remodeled and expanded facility. Other enterprises included molasses mills, a sawmill, lime kilns, brickyards, blacksmith shops, and an early automobile service station. The sugar factory of David Eccles and Charles Nibley began refining sugar beets in Providence in 1901 and operated for twenty-five years. Millions of tons of limestone for this and other refineries in the Pacific Northwest were quarried from Providence Canyon. The Utah Idaho Central Railroad Company extended its electric interurban line from Logan and established a depot in Providence in 1912. The railroad hauled limestone, farm produce, and passengers throughout Cache Valley as well as to Corinne and Ogden and beyond via a connection with the Oregon Short Line Railroad company. Accompanying the UIC were electric lights, the telegraph, and the telephone. The last railroad train ran through town in 1947.
With the coming of statehood to Utah and with the population exceeding a thousand in the 1890s, Providence was organized as a town corporation. In 1897 Hopkin Mathews became town board president. Providence became a third-class city on 19 July 1929, with James Hansen elected mayor.
Commencing with its first subdivision in 1962, Providence changed at an accelerating pace from a farming community into a “bedroom” suburb of Logan. Fields began to give way to developer tracts of individually owned, single-family houses on small lots. Although there is a spattering of home enterprises, most commercial activities have disappeared from Providence. A major employer of Providence citizens is Utah State University, which at its founding in 1888 seriously considered the Providence bench for its location. Other residents commute to Thiokol Corporation facilities or Hill Air Force Base as well as to smaller business firms and institutions in and around Logan.