(Brief Historical Moments)
Mr. John Petty, at the age of 28, took up a homestead of 160 acres in Tremonton in the year 1888. His farm covered the present south half of Tremonton town, all south of Main Street, now within the city limits. Toward the beginning of the new century, land agents went east to induce more people to settle in the Bear River Valley, and as a result, a number of families settled from Nebraska.
After tapping the Bear River and building the great canal system, water began to flow over the sterile thirsty soil. In 1892, possibilities for Bear River Valley began to look promising for many new settlers. Settlers soon came from a German colony in Illinois and also a number of families from Nebraska. The town site of Tremonton was laid out early in the spring of 1903. Soon buildings were erected to attract business to the new town site including a meat market, barber shop, saloon, and an office for “The Tremont Times” newspaper. Mail was distributed from the meat market. Following the first general business boom and for a year thereafter, businessmen were attracted from all parts of the county. A blacksmith shop, general merchandise store, drug store, millinery, boarding house, 2 more hotels, a livery stable, furniture store and a wagon & machine company were among them. Very few homes were built during the first year as most families lived in the rear rooms of their places of business.
During the first weeks of its existence, the new town was without a name but was soon given the name Tremont after the Illinois hometown of one of the German settlers. Within three or four years, however, the name of Tremont, Utah was so frequently confused with Fremont, Utah , that postal authorities requested a name change for the newer town. By simply adding “on” to Tremont, the town became Tremonton and the identity problem was solved.
A town organization was effected January 6, 1906 and they began at once to make improvements. A city park was purchased, and in 1909 the old board sidewalks were replaced by cement walks. In 1910, a water system was installed using water from the canals, and in 1911, the electric light system was installed. The Midland Hotel was erected through the efforts of the Tremonton Commercial Club. The contractors soon learned that the underground water was too near the surface to make the building of foundations and basements either safe or possible. A drainage company was therefore organized in 1913, and by November of that year a sewer and drainage system was extended to the greater portion of the town.
From the summer of 1912 to the close of 1914, Tremonton experienced a building boom. May 6, 1918, Tremonton was incorporated as a City of the third class. This same year the City installed a new water system using water from the Johnson Spring located just east of Point Lookout. By 1925 the population of Tremonton numbered one thousand people.
The founding of Tremonton differed in many respects from the settlement of a vast majority of sister communities in the valley. Most of the families pushing north and west to establish homes were mormon, but the first people of Tremonton and vicinity were Non-Mormon. They brought with them a variety of religious beliefs from their former homes. They were an industrious, progressive, and sincere people who, regardless of difference in belief, were willing to cooperate with their neighbors. These qualities were evident when they constructed the first Union schoolhouse to educate their children. They further united (that is what gave Union its name) by sharing that building on Sunday, where several denominations used it for their services on an alternating basis.
Tremonton is a Twentieth Century City. From 1906, when first incorporated as a town, to 1918 when designated a Third Class City, to 1992, growth has been steady and firm. Employment opportunities have expanded with the Thiokol Plant 26 miles to the west, Nucor Steel 14 miles to the north, Morton International 17 miles to the south, and La-Z-Boy Chair Company operated within the city limits. Educational, recreational, civic, health, medical, and religious services and facilities are updated and have expanded with the steady growth of the city. Economically, the city is a central shopping place for the Bear River Valley. In 1992, two hundred sixty seven businesses were operating with official city licenses.
For more historical information on Tremonton and other Box Elder County cities, a Box Elder County Historical Photo Tour Book may be purchased through the County Clerk’s Office.