INTERESTINGLY, Ogden City is a town that is named for a man who never even visited the place. Ogden also ranks as the third-oldest incorporated city WEST of the Missouri River, following ONLY San Francisco and Salt Lake City.
So, how did the Ogden name come about?
Here’s the summary of a story from the Ogden Standard-Examiner of April 4, 1914, under the headline of “How Ogden got its name and a sketch of Peter Skene Ogden:
Many a famous city has been named after its founder, but Ogden is named for a man who never saw it.
Scores of hunters, trappers and explorers had camped on the site of eventual Ogden and some had even made maps and reports of their visits --- Ashley, Bridger, Carson, Provost, Goodyear and Bonneville to name a few.
Mormon pioneers were also inclined to name towns after their own or their religion – like Brigham City, Nephi, etc.
But it was Ogden’s name that won out. How?
Who told the Mormon Pioneers about Ogden?
First, it was probably Jim Bridger, trapper and romancer. Bridger had known Ogden since 1825 and likely associated his name with the river and the valley.
Then, the pioneers found Miles Goodyear already established in Ogden and eventually bought him out.
Goodyear likely told them that is the Ogden River, yonder is Ogden’s Hole.
An old Ogden sign, probably from the 1930s in Weber Canyon.
And, at the very time the pioneers were told this, Peter Skene Ogden was at Fort Vancouver, near Portland, Oregon and head of the Hudson Bay Company. He was a key man, perhaps the key man then in all the northwest country drained by the Columbia River, at the time.
Ogden visited Ogden Valley, but there is no evidence he ever set foot on the west side of the mountains, where Ogden City is today.
It also may be no coincidence that Johnnie Grant of Fort Hall, Idaho and a clerk of the Hudson Bay Company, was Miles Goodyear’s friend and backer.
The Mormon Pioneers, then finding certain points of local geography already well established in title, accepted them.
Still,Ogden City was originally known as Brown's Fort, or Brown's Settlement. Soon "Brownsville" took hold as the name and held for several years.
The City was named for Peter Skene Ogden on Feb. 6, 1851, when it was incorporated.
(However, it was more than three years before the post office dropped the name Brownsville.)
It was President Brigham Young himself who had strongly suggested the Ogden name of the famous trapper for the City’s title during his 1849 visit to the area.
-BUT now on a “what if” possibility, had the original Brownsville name became Ogden City’s actual name, would Ogden Valley have been named “Brown Valley”?
PERHAPS…. As Ogden Valley wasn’t explored by the Mormon Pioneers until 1854 and not settled until 1860.
Ogden Valley as seen from Snow Basin Ski Resort.