Utah South Company Daughters of Utah Pioneers, in conjunction with the City of Spanish Fork, community donors, and volunteers have reclaimed and restored this hallowed ground in remembrance of the pioneers who persevered through uncommon hardships because they had faith in their God and in their cause.
The pioneers chose this bluff overlooking the river as their sacred burial ground. We reverence the lives of these stalwart settlers who came into a barren land and built on a foundation of faith. Settling a community was arduous, backbreaking work that required unity. They lived in wagon boxes, tents, and dugouts along the river bank. They plowed, sowed crops, herded cattle, irrigated, and built roads and bridges. These pioneers were dependent upon one another for their very survival. When death occurred, they mourned together.
The first settlers arrived in 1850. Their life and death struggles while facing hunger, hostile natives, disease, grasshoppers, and crop failure are heroic and heartrending. Spanish Fork City was chartered, then surveyed in 1855 by Stake President James Chauncey Snow under the direction of George A. Smith, first counselor to LDS Church President Brigham Young. Spanish Fork combined the “upper” and “lower” settlements. The settlers’ lives, deeds, and devotion to the establishment of this community write a powerful chapter in the chronicles of Spanish Fork’s early history. Their valiant examples of strength and courage have left a legacy to be treasured. May this sacred and hallowed ground be a place of rest, reflection, and reverence.
During the 1930s, UTNG used federal money, often supplied through the Works Progress Administration (WPA), to build or expand a number of UTNG facilities. The WPA funded eight armories and several garage and storage areas for the UTNG. By 1940, 13 armories were in use by the Utah Guard including” that in Spanish Fork. The historic armory in Spanish Fork has since been demolished.(*)
This pump house has been a favorite for people who like ghost stories and haunted things in the area for as long as I can remember. A lot of websites call it the Benjamin Pump House even though I think it’s technically between Lake Shore and Palmyra.
These pump houses are for irrigation water and aren’t that uncommon, but the fact that so many kids talk about made me want to at least document it.
There are haunted places websites talking about a man getting caught in a machine and dying and another man trying to get him out and getting his arm caught and also dying. They also say there are unexplained lights and noises at night.
Another very common mix up for people is they go to the Larsen/Moran House and call it the pump house, it wasn’t a pump house, it was a residential home.
The Spanish Fork High School Gymnasium was originally built as a Public Works Administration project. It is not part of the current Spanish Fork High School campus, but is used by the Nebo School District as part of its main offices.It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
This Craftsman bungalow was built c. 1912 for David H. and Mary E. Nielsen Jones, who lived here until their deaths in 1959 and 1976, respectively. In addition to running his own farm and livestock operations, David Jones served as Commissioner of Agriculture for Utah, as president of the Utah State Farm Bureau, and as president of the Utah County Cooperative Dairy for 20 years. His political career included six years of service as a Spanish Fork city councilman and two terms as a state senator.
Located at 143 South Main Street in Spanish Fork, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
Also located on the property is the Spanish Fork Pioneer Park, which is currently owned and operated by Jones’s granddaughter Elaine Jones Hughes, and her husband who have dedicated the property to Spanish Fork’s pioneer heritage. Located at the park are several historic pioneer log cabins with connections to Spanish Fork pioneers, a mill that came from Leland, and a pump house that had its origins in Salt Lake City. Pioneer Park is open on Pioneer Day and is also the location of the Fiesta Days quilt show.
Many Icelandic converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were baptized on the shores of Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland, at what is called the “Mormon Pond.” This rock was removed from those shores on May 6, 2005 and brought to Spanish Fork. It stands as a symbol of the commitment, courage, and sacrifice of those who left to their posterity a legacy of faith, perseverance, and endurance.
Two natives of Iceland, Porarinn Halfidason and Gudmunder Gudmundsson, met two Mormon missionaries from Utah while studying in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1851. After careful investigation, they converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They returned to their homeland to share their newfound faith. In 1852 Porarinn drown at sea. Gudmunder carried on the proselyting activities. Many converts were baptized on the shore of Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland.
In 1854 Samuel Bjarnson and his wife, Margret Gisladottir, and a traveling companion, Helga Johndottir, were the first converts to leave Iceland for Zion. They sailed from Iceland in November of 1854 to Liverpool, England, on the ship James Nesmith. From England, they continued on to New Orleans where they boarded a riverboat headed to St. Louis, Missouri. After passing through Mormon Grove, the group arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley on September 7, 1855, 300 days after their departure from Iceland. Brigham Young, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, directed Samuel, Margret, and Helga to settle in Spanish Fork, Utah. With a nucleus of 16 pioneers the first permanent Icelandic settlement in the United States was established in Spanish Fork.
Prior to 1869, Icelanders made the trip to Utah by sailing on ships, traveling in wagon trains, and pulling handcarts. After that time, they traveled to Utah by steamship and train. Over 400 Icelanders immigrated to Utah from 1855 to 1914. Because the pioneers had very little money to help themselves or others, they found it necessary to work together as they settled in their new homes. In 1887 the Icelanders in Spanish Fork held their first Iceland Days Celebration, Kate B. Carter wrote, “The Iceland people in Utah are said to have preserved the folk-lore and customs of their mother country more than any other nationality that pioneered in Utah.”
In 1887 the Icelandic members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints built a meetinghouse where they conducted church services in Icelandic because many of them found it difficult to learn English. In 1892 the Icelandic Lutherans of Spanish Fork built a small frame church where the sermons were taught in Icelandic and English. Runolfur Runolfsson, who had joined the LDS Church in Iceland and immigrated to Spanish Fork, converted to Lutheranism after his arrival, he had been an ordained Lutheran minister in Iceland.
In 1938 a Lighthouse Monument honoring the Incelanders that settled in Utah was built on the east bench of Spanish Fork at 800 East and Canyon Road. Andrew Jensen, a historian for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dedicated the monument on August 2, 1938, as part of the Iceland Days celebration. J. Victor Leifson and Eleanor B. Jarvis were co-chairs for the monument project. Gesli Bearnson donated the land and John K. Johnson designed the monument in the shape of a lighthouse, reflecting the seafaring background of the Icelanders. Fred Wilson built the original Viking ship on the monument.
The centennial celebration of the first Icelanders coming to Utah was held on June 15-17, 1955. Elder Henry D. Moyle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opened the celebration as a keynote speaker during a religious service on Wednesday, June 15. The celebration included a parade and concluded on Friday, June 17, a national holiday in Iceland. The Iceland Association, in 2000, raised funds to build a monument in Vestmannaeyjar to honor their ancestors, along with an exhibit in Hofsos, Iceland.
Byron T. Geslison, his wife, Melva and their two sons, David and Daniel, were called to Iceland in 1975 to renew the missionary effort of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When the Geslisons arrived in Iceland there were no missionary discussions or tracts in Icelandic. Byron had the voice of warning and truth, written by Thordur Didriksson in 1879, re-printed to use as a missionary tract. The Icelandic government officially recognized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on November 1, 1983.
In 1997 the centennial celebration of Iceland days was held in Spanish Fork. Iceland’s President, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, and his wife, Gudrun Katrin Porbergsdottir, attended the event. President Grimsson was honored by Spanish Fork City as the Grand Marshal of the Fiesta Days Parade on July 24. President Grimsson and Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke at a pioneer heritage fireside. The Icelandic Association of Utah was formed in 2000, as a non-profit corporation. A sesquicentennial celebration was held on June 23-26, 2005, 150 years after the first Icelanders arrived in Utah.