Settlement in 1859
“Over Jordan and under the hill”
South Jordan was originally called “Gale” due to the strong, persistent winds. Since the Salt Lake Valley had little timber available, the earliest settlers built their first homes into the bluffs west of the Jordan River as earthen dugout dwellings. The Alexander Beckstead family was the first to homestead in this area in 1859, southwest of this monument. As a result, these and other settlers were known to live “over Jordan and under the hill.”
Water was scarce west of the Jordan River, so the pioneers hand dug an irrigation ditch over 2.5 miles long using shovels, picks, and spirit levels. This channel brought water northwest from Midas Creek, other tributaries and the Jordan River to the farmers for their crops of wheat, barley, and potatoes.
White Fawn Flour Mill
Local farmers needed an accessible outlet to convert raw grain into marketable products. In 1895, Robert Mabey Holt of the South Jordan Milling Company built the first flour mill near this monument site. After a fire in 1902, Robert Rebuilt a new facility called the ‘White Fawn Flour Mill’ that was operated by his brother Royal Holt for many years. Water flowing from the Beckstead ditch powered the mill wheel shaft, but the mill was later converted to operate with electricity. As South Jordan grew, the Holts enlarged the mill and it became an important commerce center for the southern end of the Salt Lake Valley. The mill was also a pivotal social center where locals exchanged news and information as they waited for their grain orders. Above the loading dock there was a large room that served as a social hall for community events. The White Fawn Flour Mill operated until approximately 1955.
Jordan River Corridor
The Native Peoples and Wildlife
For centuries, the Ute, Shoshone and Goshute Indians lived and migrated throughout the Salt Lake Valley which was considered a neutral buffer zone for these tribes. Passage along the Jordan River corridor was common and all native groups used the abundant natural resources including water, salt, plants, animals, fish and birds. The Jordan River was key to survival for all who traveled through this area.
Nielsen’s Frozen Custard is a popular place with several locations around, this one is in South Jordan. I love their vintage looking neon sign.
3779 S Jordan Pkwy, South Jordan, Utah
1938 School Bus / Train Accident Memorial
- Rela Marie Beckstead
- Neal Wilson Densley
- Robert Hansen Egbert
- William H. Glazier
- George Albert Hunt
- Lois Anna Johnson
- Byard Larson
- Rosa Larson
- Naomi Lewis
- Helen Lloyd
- Lois Rae Miller
- Virginia Nelson
- Roland Blaine Page
- Louis Duane Parkinson
- Allen Ole Petersen
- Kenneth C. Peterson
- Harold W. Sandstrom
- Farrold H. Silcox (Driver)
- Carol Vincent Stephensen
- Viola Sundquist
- Naomi Webb
- Wilbert Webb
- Dean Lee Roy Winward
- Helen Young
- Mack Bateman
- Chloe Beckstead
- Manuel Beckstead
- Marjorie Beckstead
- Doug Brown
- Laraine Freeman
- Oneva Green
- Marjorie Groves
- Louise Hardman
- Glen Kump
- Manford Osborne
- Ida Smith
- Mabel Smith
- Ann Webb
- Russell Webb
Tragedy Strikes Small Farming Cummunities
December 1, 1938 dawned as a snowy, foggy, eerily quiet day. While a school bus headed through the dense winter storm toward Jordan High School, a loaded Denver and Rio Grande freight train rolled north toward Salt Lake City. Near the railroad crossing at 10200 South and 400 West, the driver stopped the bus. He opened the door to look beyond the thick fog but did not see the 80+ car “Flying Ute” train approaching at over 50 miles per hour. At 8:43 a.m., the wet rubber tires of the bus strained up the gentle grade and pulled slowly forward across the tracks. Upon seeing the bus, the train crew immediately applied the brakes, but the collision was inevitable. The tragedy killed 23 children and the bus driver. The 15 survivors faced a lifetime of serious physical injuries and emotional scars. The devastation felt by all residents of the South Salt Lake Valley is impossible to describe in words alone. At the time, Jordan High was the only high school serving the present day boundaries from the Cottonwood Canyons to 8400 west, and Point of the Mountain to 6400 South. The impact and tragic loss left no family untouched. Every South Jordan home had lost a son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousin or friend.
Tragedy Draws National Attention
This bus/train accident sent the community and the nation into mourning while various religious, charitable and governmental organizations rallied to support the area. Local and national media coverage brought an outpouring of sympathy for the victims and their families. Business and governmental investigations combed through massive amounts of data to determine what practical improvements could be made to avoid similar catastrophes. Countless generations have benefited from railroad crossing laws and mechanical crossing arms. Often taken for granted is a mandatory requirement for bus drivers to not only stop at railroad crossings, but also to open their door and driver side window to look and listen for oncoming trains. Resulting from a disaster in this small Utah town, these national regulations are still in place today, making the loves of many school children much safer.
Henry Beckstead selected land immediately west of the first meetinghouse in South Jordan for use as a “burying ground.” The land was donated by James Oliver, an early settler in South Jordan, and is the site of the South Jordan cemetery at 1055 West 10750 South.
Two month old John A. Bills, son of William A. Bills, died on September 9, 1863, and Mr Beckstead selected the burial site the same day. The Bills family held the funeral September 10, 1863, making the burial of John A. the first in the town cemetery of South Jordan.
Henry Byram Beckstead became the first sexton of the South Jordan Cemetery and served for sixty-seven years, until his death in 1930. Wallace Beckstead, Pete Winward, Tom Sheppick, Alma Holt and Alden Winters served successively as sextons.
People originally used large, white, wooden markers on the graves. The names and other data were painted in black. Moroni Olivery made the wooden grave markers in his cabinet shop. Berha Holt grew gladiolas and Harriet Christiansen arranged sprays for funeral services.
The rural South Jordan Cemetery was five acres in size. It was the only Cemetery south of the West Jordan Cemetery and west of the Jordan River at the time it was designed. The South Jordan Ward maintained the cemetery until ownership was turned over to the City on October 1, 1945. In 1960, Royal Beckstead sold two and a half acres of land to the City to extend the cemetery northward.
South Jordan Veteran’s Memorial
Our lives are filled with symbolism. This monument, dedicated to those who served their country, is symbolic of sacrifice. May those who come here find peace, courage, and hope.
The circular form represents life and existence, the eternal qualities that surround and are a part of all mankind. “Honor, Pride and Pain” are defined by artist L’Dean Trueblood in her sculpture of two soldiers. In the service and sacrifice of war, it is that noble part of the soldier’s character that we honor.
The two soldiers stand as silent sentinels to those buried here. Whether under a blue sky with a warm, gentle summer breeze or the cold, damp, blustery darkness of a stormy winter night, the soldiers stand, unyielding to the elements until the day when these graves will be empty and Another will stand guard over all humanity. As if on an alter and as a statement of sacrifice, the dead are listed around the soldiers’ feet. Each soldier who gave his or her life in battle has a star in front of their name.
Below the names lies a reflecting pool, not of water, but polished black granite. The maps represent places where battles were fought and courage conquered fear. A circular field of earth tones surrounds the monument. Reds represent Mother Earth and the fact that we, the living, walk in freedom on the blood and sacrifice of many.
Polished black represents the area of the dead, where dignity should reside. The four white benches stand for the area of living – a place where mortality may return to find solace, comfort, or pay homage and respect for those who have sacrificed for us.
– Written by Joey Clegg –
Monument dedicated by Elder Boyd K. Packer, May 4, 2002