The Union Pacific met the Central Pacific at Promontory Summit in 1869, tying America together by rail, and you’ve gotta wonder if one side didn’t stall a little to make sure they finished in lovely Box Elder. The county was already dotted with all kinds of natural beauty (3 soon-to-be-designated national forests and binoculars-full of migrating birds, for instance), and plenty more attractions have been added since the Golden Spike hit home. Check out the internationally acclaimed work of married land artists Robert Smithson (Spiral Jetty) and Nancy Holt (Sun Tunnels), explore the technology that put a person on the moon at the ATK Rocket Garden and eat some fine food (Maddox, Peach City Ice Cream, Idle Isle, Bert’s Café) when you’re through.
Brigham City is located at the north end of the Wasatch Front corridor begins. The town was settled in the early 1850s and originally named Box Elder. The moniker was changed in January of 1867 to honor Brigham Young, the second president of the Mormon church. Brigham retains a small town feel despite a growing number of motels, convenience stores and graceful golf courses. From Brigham City, US-89 winds its way northeast through the mountains to Logan, Bear Lake, and eventually Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
Brigham has many historic buildings including a dignified pillared courthouse with a clock in its dome, and the Gothic Mormon Tabernacle. Baron Woolen Mills tucked on an east side street produces woolen blankets and throws in patterns from the last century. West of Brigham City, in the Great Basin is ATK (Thiokol Corporation), where the solid rocket boosters used to propel the space shuttle are manufactured. Further, is Golden Spike National Historic Site where the U.S. was joined by rail in May of 1869 at Promontory Summit. Across Brigham City's Main Street an arcing sign approaching antique status proclaims the city to be gateway to the worlds greatest Bird Refuge. Indeed, the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is an impressive place for viewing and listening to everything from ducks to colorful song birds. Brigham is also famous for Peach Days, a community celebration each September, held annual since the early years of this century.
Between Brigham and Ogden, the next major city in the Wasatch Front chain, I-15 provides quick access, but U.S. 89 offers charm. The stretch of 89 from Brigham south to Willard is known as Utah's Fruitway. Here, during the growing seasons, all types of farm fresh produce and plants are sold from roadside stands. From I-15, excellent views emerge of the Great Salt Lake and Willard Bay, a freshwater impoundment on its eastern edge. Both bodies of water are prized for sailing, boating and other water recreation, and bald eagles often winter in the trees west of the interstate highway.