Friday, February 7, 2014

Box Elder name origins: From Locomotive Springs to Mount Pisgah

Box Elder County and southern Cache County boasts many unusual and some unique place names.
 Here is a sampling of some of them:
-Brigham City: First it was called “Box Elder,” for the nearby creek and the prevalence of same-named trees, from 1850-51. Next, it was referred to as Youngsville, after Brigham Young. Finally, in 1867, it was titled Brigham City.

-Corinne: Had many early monikers: Connor, Bear River and Burg on the Bear. Its name most likely came from the first white child born there – Corinne -- daughter of General J.A. Williamson.  However, variations also claim it came from a French actress who visited the town, or from a character in an 1807 novel.

-Crystal Springs: It was originally known as “Madsen Hot Spring.” But after some crystals were spotted forming on rocks from the spring water, the Crystal name stuck. Crystal is also the title of a nearby eastern peak.

-Deweyville: First named Empeys Spring and then Dewey Spring for settler John C. Dewey. After a Post Office opened in 1873, the name was changed to Deweyville.
-Dry Lake: This Sardine Canyon feature, actually in Cache County, was originally called “Box Elder Lake,” when the U.S. government made its first survey of the area in 1879. After it kept switching back and forth between wet and dry conditions, with the latter being the norm most years, the “Dry Lake” title took over.
-Garland: Sunset was its original title, in honor of the beautiful sunsets there. Later, it was named for William Garland, who spearheaded construction of the Bothwell Canal and the local sugar beet industry.
-Honeyville: Hunsakerville was its first moniker, after LDS Church Bishop, Abraham Hunsaker. However, by some accounts, he changed the name to Honeyville after his bee-keeping business. But, others claim the name became “Hun-eville,” a contraction of sorts, of Hunsaker’s name. Still others say the name was a reminder of their location, like Canaan in the Bible, a land flowing with milk and honey.
-Locomotive Springs: Named by J.T. Baker and Elijah Reed, who came to the area, located northwest of the Golden Spike National Historic Site, in 1888. At the time, the spring water rushed through a rocky crevice and sounded like a locomotive. However, soon settlers chipped away at the rocks and the noise stopped, but the name remained.
-Lucin Cutoff: It was originally called Pilot Peak, for the area’s dominant mountain. Its permanent name may come from a local fossil, “Lucina subanta.” First, it was 10 miles north of its current location, as small railroad town. Then, in 1903, it moved south as the Lucin railroad shortcut came across the Great Salt Lake.
-Mantua: It had a slew of early titles. It was called “The Little Valley” at first; then Flaxville for a crop raising attempt; Copenhagen, because of its many Danish settlers; and then Geneva, for a Swiss town. LDS Church leader Lorenzo Snow eventually named the town after his birthplace, Mantua, Ohio.
-Mount Pisgah: Likely named by a 19th Century field group that got trapped in a blizzard on the Cache County mountain, near the Cache-Box Elder county line. It is a Biblical mountain name, Deuteronomy 34:1 and other same-named peaks exist elsewhere too, such as one along the Mormon Pioneer Trail.
-Park Valley: The first settler, William Cotton Thomas, in 1869, was impressed with the dense tree growth near Dove Creek and the spectacular view of the valley. Hence, the name.
-Perry: Originally called Porter Spring, for Orrin Porter Rockwell, early landowner. Next, it was referred to as Three-mile Creek and finally named for Lorenzo Perry, pioneer settler and first Mormon Bishop there.

Sources: “Utah Place Names,” by John W. Van Cott; “A History of Box Elder County,” by Frederick M. Huchel; “Origins of Utah Place Names,” Utah Writers Project, 1940; and “A History of Box Elder County,” by Frederick M. Huchel.

-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at:  

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