Just four miles north and east of Logan, nestled at the mouth of Green Canyon, lies the little town of North Logan. It is beautiful with its find homes, farms and orchards, a modern school and community building.
North Logan has not always been the beautiful place it is today. In 1878 it was one big field of sage brush, part of a dry desert. If canal water could be brought out north, then people would be interested in redeeming the desert.
When contagious diseases came, a yellow or red flag was hung outside the house which bore the name of the disease-typhoid, diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, etc. This little flag was a flag of quarantine. No one had the liberty to leave that home. To those outside it announced “come in at your own risk, inside is a disease of death.” Sometimes one or more died and sorrow and terror grew as the disease spread. Always someone who had immunity to the disease would go and do the burying, ease the suffering, comfort the living, and help in any way they were needed. When the last victim was cured, the house was fumigated and shallow dishes filled with sulfur were set in each room and hall. It was set afire, and the fumes would penetrate every surface and crack. Clothes were washed or burned, floors and woodwork were scrubbed in Lysol or lye water. When a person was pronounced clean, then the flag was taken down.
Early in 1928, an epidemic of Spinal Meningitis occurred in North Logan. A number of people died and a number were left deaf. At that time most of the families were using water from the irrigation canals for culinary purposes. It was piped from the canals to cisterns and then pumped by hand for home use. The Spinal Meningitis was traced to the water, so that year, a group of citizens began looking for other sources of water. Logan City was approached and agreed to furnish water, but after the next election, the new Council said “No.” The next approach was to bring water from springs in Water Canyon about 5 miles above the mouth of Green Canyon. A mining company had already filed on the springs but had not used them. When their filing expired in 1930, the North Logan Telephone and Power Company filed on them for the community. It took the next four years to get the plans completed and money arranged for.
In 1934 North Logan was incorporated to make it possible to finance the water system. Five miles of 4″ wrapped steel pipe was laid in the canyon and 8 miles of distribution lines were laid in the community. These lines ranged from 3/4″ to 6″ in diameter. The larger lines were steel and the smaller galvanized. All of the lines were laid by hand by men from the community. Much of the pay for the work came from the W.P.A.
A reservoir was built in the mouth of green Canyon, which had a capacity of 81,0000 gallons. The population of North Logan at the time was 302 people in 60 families. The total cost of the original system was $58,000.00 The system served well until about 1954, which was a very dry year. The community had grown and they had to ration water. A small spring right in town was put into service, but proved to be very shallow so was contaminated and had to be abandoned. In 1958, another reservoir was built which brought the storage capacity to 225,000 gallons. The population of North Logan (1999) is now over 6,000 with nearly 1500 service connections. North Logan is the fastest growing community in Cache Valley with prospects of much more growth in the future.
Ralph Smith, a pioneer of 1856, with his son, Thomas and two of his friends, Hyrum Maughan and Julius Johnson on February 15, 1878 filed for homesteads on two quarter sections, 80 acres each. They continued to live in Logan, from which point, they hauled out fertilizer, broke up the land and began farming it. What they produced was hauled back to Logan.
Ralph Smith was the first of the three to finish his house constructed of rock hauled from Green Canyon, at a cost of $1000.00. Its walls were about 18 inches thick. His family moved into it on March 17, 1884 and on April 27, 1884 it was dedicated by Christian Larsen. This was the beginning of North Logan.
Other families followed and by February 10, 1890, when the first meeting place was being planned, we find the names of the following residents: Ralph Smith, Olif Cronquist, John Ormond, Carl Nyman, Carl M. Nelson, Aaron Darling, Emer Crockett, Jacob Wilhelm, and William Palmer.
Trees were planted along the road sides, making the little town a place of beauty, so they named it Greenville. It was discovered that another town in Utah was named Greenville, so to avoid confusion, the name of the town was changed to North Logan.
Since then, the pioneer village has been transformed into a town known for its home-like charm. Still standing are some of the dignified old homes and many lovely new ones are constantly being erected. This adds much to its individuality with their lawns, gardens, rose arbors and shade trees.
With a population of 700 (1959), North Logan had 201 students enrolled in the grade school; 74 in High School at South Cache High School and many more enrolled at the Utah State University at Logan. Good schools, wide streets, pure water supply and careful sanitation tend to make it an ideal town.
Rising upwards to the foothills, with an elevation from 4500 to 4810, North Logan commands a far reaching panorama of beautiful Cache Valley, the towers of Utah State University and the magnificent Temple. All these are surrounded by the majesty of the Wasatch Mountain range. In winter they are beautiful with a covering of snow and in summer crowned with evergreen pine, spruce, maple, aspen, juniper and sage. This affords a decided contrast to the fertile valley with its fields and crop lands, irrigated by mountain streams through its several canal systems.
North Logan is lovely in every season. In Summer a cooling breeze from Green Canyon tempers the hottest days. The pure air, the fresh breezes, the quiet and peace, the music of running water as it rushes to irrigate the soil, the grass and shade of many trees, and the singing of birds gives endless pleasure to summer days.
In winter the new fallen snow sparkles in the sun, resembling acres and acres of diamonds.
In the beginning, the land was homesteaded, later bought from early settlers, or some was traded off like Jans Peter Christensen traded an overcoat and a jag of hay for five acres of land.
In 1885 on February 22nd, the first children born in Greenville, came to the home of Ralph and Mary Smith – twins, a boy named LeRoy and a girl named Letta Lorena. The little girl died September 22, 1885.
Early life in the town was not without typical pioneer hardships. Considerable sickness at times, without adequate medical help, brought its problems. The people had to be their own doctors and make their own medicine. Ralph Smith’s diary speaks of lancing boils, patching broken legs and doctoring for cholera. One of his five wives, Susannah Jolly, went east to become a mid-wife and returned to devote a great portion of her remaining days in service to the settlers of the entire valley. Smith tells of ten acres of grain being completely destroyed by the crickets. It was replanted with much the same results. The same year, three acres of grain was badly frost bitten in August. Susannah Jolly Smith records that a special fast meeting was called by Apostle Ezra Benson in seeking divine intervention against the crickets. When they came out of the meeting, the sky was black with large clouds of crickets that flew or were swept by the wind to the Salt Lake Valley.
In 1898 it was thought advisable for the town to have a school house separate from the church. A one room brick school house was built and Andrea Reed taught alone a few months until they found that one teacher could not do justice to so many students or subjects. A heavy curtain across the center of the room divided the group into two. In 1904 another room was added. In 1908 the schools of the county consolidated. In 1911 the old meeting house served as class rooms for the 5th and 6th grades. In 1915 two front rooms were added and in 1939-40 a new gym was built.
At the rear of the school house was the coal and wood building. When not full of fuel, it was a favorite refuge for the game of cops and robbers. Coal and wood had to be carried in to stoke the stove to keep the children warm.
One of the greatest problems was to supply water. Mrs. Ada Peterson will always be remembered for her goodness to thirsty children, who crossed the street from the schoolhouse to her home. She provided a cup and permitted the children to pump the clear cold water from her well. It is said she never turned a child away. About 1912, a well was dug on the school grounds. In 1935 water was piped from the town water supply.
By the turn of the century with canal water flowing through the town, many changes had been made. Bordering the narrow dusty road, on either side, herds of milk cows cropped the grass until it appeared to be a lawn with tall poplar trees along the fences affording shelter from the summer sun.
Life was different than now, even though some had come from large cities or towns. They were now isolated from city ways and were compelled by necessity to change their living habits. Here they developed greater ingenuity, resourcefulness and pluck with faith, which made this town what it is today.
Those were the “horse and buggy days”. The richer people had powerful teams and canvas topped ludlows. John Ormonds and N.W. Crookston still owned ox teams which were kept for use in pioneer celebrations. Most of the wagons had narrow tires. Hitching posts and typing rack stood in front of every home and several of the churches.
Children as well as grownups wore laced or buttoned high topped shoes and long white or black stockings that reached over their knees. In the summer times little girls could wear patent leather skippers and the boys could go barefooted. Ladies clothes were as lovely as skills could make them. Rows of insertion lace or tucking in blouses and underclothes enhanced the style. The skirts were long and lavishly trimmed with velvet and ribbons. Men wore stiff starched, wide collars with bow or ready made ties that hooked over the collar button. Boys wore short pants until they became men. Everyone wore long underclothes as protection in the severe winters.
To the stores in Logan the farmers and their wives took fresh eggs and sweet homemade butter, that had been pressed hard into molds. The handle of the mold was pressed down until it forced the pound of butter out. On the top of the butter were works of art, such as a design of flowers, acorns, fruits or butterflies. These products were traded for family supplies.
Those were the days when homemakers were proud of the art of soap making. All cracklings, old lard and bacon grease were put in an iron kettle or tin pan and boiled with lye and stirred until it became a jelly mass. Poured into molds and cooled, it became the years’ supply of soap. With this soap dirt disappeared from everything, even wood floors became white and clean. Clothes were washed on big wash boards, or turned in hand-powered washing machines and then boiled over a hot stove. They came out pretty and white as clothes could be.
Homes on the higher lands still grew the native sage brush, almost to their doors.
On the sage covered hills could be seen the coyote, badger, skunk and weasel, as they roamed day and night, seeking chickens and sheep as prey. There the children roamed gathering wild flowers of every color. They knew every sagebrush plant that protected a nest of mourning doves at its roots. They watched the plow push back the fields of sunflower, sego lilies, larkspur and Indian Paint Brush. They knew that the rocks probably covered scorpions. They learned to know and love the birds, swallows, kildeer, bluebirds, meadowlarks, sparrows, mourning doves, the big chicken hawks and a few robins. Little furry cotton tails and big gray and white rabbits were caught for their meat.
Nearly every home carried water from springs or wells or used canal water. Sometimes the springs were long distances from the homes. Every home had an outside toilet. Most all homes had a shanty or summer kitchen where the hot fires needed for wash and bath water, flat irons or to cook with would not make the main house uncomfortable. Almost every home had a garden, berry patch, and fruit orchards. Fields produced the grain, cut by binders, placed in shalks, then hauled and stacked for the threshers. The thrill of a lifetime for the youngsters came when the horse-powered threshers moved into the stack yards. Men with their teams and wagons came, hitched the teams to the machine and they followed each other around. Often the threshers stayed all night, sleeping in the barn or in their wagons. They washed the grime and straw off their faces in tin or wooden tubs. The women prepared good things to eat. The tables groaned with the weight of those wonderful meals.
In summer, the ponds made ideal places to wade, swim and make rafts. Fascinating, too, was watching the water life in the frog ponds, seeing the development of tadpoles to frogs. The rewards of patience, might be to see the mud colored grub crawl into a reed, then watch its shell crack open and a beautiful creature with shining lacy wings fly over the reeds and out of sight. In the early spring and fall, many herds of sheep and cattle were driven to or from the canyon as the seasonal feeding required.
Somewhere around the year 1910 or 1912 a street car ran through North Logan, along college street or 8th East. It was called the Inter-Urban. It ran from Ogden around the valley from Mendon to Wellsville, Hyrum, Providence, and on to Logan through North Logan and Hyde Park on to Preston. When cars came in general use, the tracks were moved down almost to Main Street and they were used by the pea vineries. It ran there for several years and then the tracks were torn up and the cars were never used again.
A written history of North Logan has been recently published and is available at the North Logan City Library.
Miscellaneous Papers on the History of North Logan, Utah 1885-1959, Compiled by Lydia Thurston Nyman and Venetta King Gilgen
Persons with other histories of North Logan are encouraged to contact the City Recorder.