By Lynn Arave
Mention “Muskrat Springs” today and you’re likely to only cause bewilderment, as that title for today’s Hooper City was replaced more than a century ago.
Notwithstanding, there’s still a somewhat obscure pioneer monument to be found to that unusual moniker and even a ward of the LDS Church in town titled that.
Hooper was an early herd ground for pioneers. A fresh water source for area became known as Muskrat springs, presumably, because some of those critters were originally found there. The springs formed a large pond of water in the 19th Century. There were several other springs in southwest Weber County, but this was the most famous.
It was 1853 when William H. Hooper built a herd house in the area. Other settlers followed and by 1869, there were 22 families living in Hooper.
The Muskrat Springs name was popular enough that resident John Thompson wrote a song titled “The Muskrat Springs” in 1869. It was even sung more than five decades later in the summer of 1927 during a city pioneer celebration.
A Deseret News correspondent, known only as “G.C.L.” wrote this on Dec. 14, 1870:
“I was particularly pleased with the appearance of the settlement formerly known as “Muskrat Springs” but lately renamed in honor of our respected delegate Hooper city. It is situated on the Weber range midway between the Weber River and Kaysville and near the shore of the lake. It is a thrifty and well organized young settlement containing a number of good frame houses. The soil there is of a warm sandy nature and well adapted to fruit growing and the settlement will without doubt in a few years become one of the best in the territory. I have visited nearly all parts of the territory and as a suitable place for starting a new farm, I consider it the most desirable locality I have yet seen. The canal by which the water is conveyed to it is to be enlarged the coming winter and much more land will then be brought under cultivation.”
The name “Hooperville” for the community was prevalent from the 1880s until the early 1900s. “Fair at Hooperville was an Aug. 26, 1890 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner. But “Hooper” as a name took over for good in the 20th Century.
Hooper’s original boundaries went far south into Davis County, including part of today’s Syracuse City. It also went east into today’s Roy City and was for decades the only notable Weber County settlement southwest of Ogden.
Incorporation of Hooper City finally took place on Nov. 30, 2000.
-The Muskrat Springs monument is found near where the original springs was. That’s approximately at today’s 5300 South (that’s “Pingree Lane” to veteran Hooperites) and 5550 West. This metal marker is also near today’s Hooper Canal and was dedicated on Nov. 7, 1977 by Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
(-Originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on March 28, 2016.)