The United States War Department began construction of a 1,500-bed military hospital on a 235-acre site a mile and a half south of Brigham City on 1 March 1942. Bushnell General Hospital was completed and its first patients admitted on 10 October of that same year. The sixty-building hospital, built at a cost of nine million dollars, was named for Colonel George E. Bushnell, internationally known specialist in tuberculosis and special consultant to the U.S. Surgeon General in World War I.
From the outset of its construction, Bushnell Hospital affected Brigham City's economy and lifestyle. Local carpenters and painters were hired to work on the project. Proprietors of a local restaurant were commissioned to cook breakfast and prepare sack lunches for more than a hundred construction workers each morning. Townspeople were asked to house the influx of hospital personnel, construction engineers, and laborers in spare rooms in their homes.
After the hospital's completion, Colonel Robert M. Hardaway was appointed commanding officer. The administration and medical staff were military personnel, and local residents were hired to work in such areas as the kitchen, bakery, and laundry as well as in maintenance and clerical positions. Patients were primarily sick and injured military personnel from Montana, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona, in keeping with the government's policy of locating patients as close to home as medically feasible so that their families could more easily visit them. Brigham City residents provided room and board in their homes for out-of-town relatives of patients.
The medical staff specialized in orthopedic and neuro-psychiatric cases and in tropical diseases. It was the first military hospital to use penicillin, and the facility provided training for medical doctors being sent to the European and Pacific combat areas. Approximately 13,000 patients were treated during the hospital's life of less than four years.
Activities for patients included movies, dances, live musical performances by amateur and professional entertainers, baseball games played by patients and staff, and field trips to local points of interest. There was also a swimming pool and a well-stocked post exchange. In addition, a prisoner of war camp was established near the Bushnell Hospital for German and Italian prisoners of war, some of whom were taken to work in the hospital under the close supervision of hospital personnel.
Bushnell Hospital closed in 1947. In 1950 the facility became the Intermountain Indian School for Navajo students. It later became an intertribal school for Indian high school students. The Intermountain Indian School closed in 1984. After an interim period of ownership by Brigham City, the facility is now (in 1993) under private development.