Saturday, March 5, 2011

Citizens for Rural Utah

For the next few posts, I wanted to go and highlight the city of Spanish Fork.  Before I get to Spanish Fork though, I have to take a stop off in a tiny city a few miles east of Spanish Fork: Benjamin.  Benjamin is one of my favorite cities in Utah County.  You can get there by taking the 400 South exit in Springville.  After heading west from the freeway and weaving around some beautiful country fields you end up in Benjamin.  It is one of my favorite drives (and bike rides) and I would recommend it to anyone.  Here is a photo from 1922 when the city had a celebration commemorating the first paved road that connected the town with Spanish Fork.  In addition, I added what this intersection looks like today:

The city of Benjamin was founded around 1863 when Benjamin F. Stewart purchased a ranch for what would eventually become the community of Benjamin.  Stewart was one of the original 143 pioneers that first set off for Salt Lake Valley with Brigham Young.  He stayed at the Platt River and operated a ferry for future pioneers.  Upon arrival to Utah, he lived in Mill Creek and later in Green River.  He eventually settled in Payson and later moved to what is now Benjamin.

Benjamin has not changed much since its earlier days, something that it prides itself on, although it does look like it has struggled economically.  The few stores that did exist in the city seem to have been closed down. 

The church in Benjamin was originally built in 1906.  It was remodeled in 1932, demolished in 1969, and eventually replaced with another LDS church.  Here is a picture of it from that period and what it looks like today:


Across from the church is a plaque which describes the history of Benjamin (which is where I got all of these pictures).  This plaque is located on the property where the school used to be located.  The building was finished in 1903 and was built with bricks excavated from Diamond Fork Canyon, where the Spanish Fork hot springs is located.  The school was used until 1972, when the school district decided to shut it down and sell the property to use as a park.  Here are the old pictures of the school and the park as it stands today.  Also, I wanted to note that the playgroung looking today exactle like it did in the old picture.

The main thing that is going on in Benjamin nowadays is the city trying to keep it like it is today.  When I pulled into town I saw a sign advertising "Help preserve our farmlands" and the website  This site doesn't seem to be active, but you can look at their facebook page.  I also found a Daily Herald letter to the editor from one of their members.  As much as I love economic advancement, I applaud members of these communities involvement in keeping their communities rural.  That country feel is what I love so much about the area.

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