PLEASANT GROVE

Pleasant Grove, Utah County, was founded by Mormon settlers on 13 September 1850, and became an incorporated city on 19 January 1855. It is located twelve miles northwest of Provo and thirty-six miles southeast of Salt Lake City. At this site, the Mormons had their first conflict with the Indians on 5 March 1849 at the head of a stream that became known as Battlecreek; the settlement on this creek at first was unofficially called Battlecreek. Indians had their own name for the area--"Mepha" or "Little Waters." The first settlers built impermanent cabins in a "pleasant grove" of trees. This was a more pleasing name and was adopted for the town.

Situated on the northeastern edges of Utah Valley and Utah Lake and along the western slope of the Wasatch Range at the foot of Mount Timpanogos, the area's gravelly alluvial deposits and sediments from Lake Bonneville are ideal for fruit trees, while the mountains afford protection from late spring frosts. Thus, the higher small-acreage farms of Pleasant Grove became prominent fruit and berry producers. However, with urban growth, now only one large orchard remains in production.

Very little industry developed within the community; most that did was farm related. Sugar beets provided a labor intensive crop for the lower, heavier soils, more suited for potatoes and beets. Many of the area's farmers and laborers worked at the Lehi sugar processing plant and the Pleasant Grove cutting station until these units closed in 1924. In 1915 the Pleasant Grove Cannery was built near the Union Pacific Railroad line; it provided an outlet for row crops, such as peas, green beans, corn, tomatoes, and pumpkins, as well as large fruits. With the development of freezer preservation, the cannery also served a market for fresh-frozen strawberries. From the 1920s through the 1950s, Pleasant Grove was a major strawberry producer, established a mid-June Strawberry Days celebration, and became known as Utah's Strawberry City. The three-day community-sponsored activity features parades, rodeos, carnivals, and sports events, and draws numerous visitors. Although local strawberry fields are now nonexistent, the city proclaims the event as the longest established celebration in Utah.

Sheep and range cattle were invested in by a small number of farmers at the end of the nineteenth century. Dairies also developed, and several continue in the area today.

Early non-farm related industries included two planing mills that shaped and finished wood for building. Fugal Construction has employed numerous men for more than eighty-six years. Fugal Brothers Plumbing was started in 1906 by Chris, Jens, and Niels Fugal. Their first major job was installing Lindon City's waterworks in 1924; by 1948 they had installed about forty city waterworks in Utah and Idaho. The company now continues into the fourth generation. The Karl B. Warren Concrete Pipe Plant began operation in the late 1930s, providing pipe for the Salt Lake aqueduct. This project stopped during World War II, causing the plant to close. After the war, it operated sporadically under different ownerships-- United Concrete Pipe, and now California Pressure Pipe Company. Westroc (formerly Warburton Readymix, and then Ashroc) has operated since 1948. Bayleys Clothing manufacturers employed numerous women from the late 1960s into the 1980s. An industrial park, located on the west side of the city since the 1960s, contains service-oriented businesses.

The close-set houses and the small business area of the town grew from a fort the first settlers were forced into because of the 1853 Walker Indian War. The fort became the nucleus of the town and its development. Before 1900 many houses were built of soft rock found in the eastern foothills. This type of rock distinctly marks the town's early buildings.

An influx of Scandinavian LDS converts between 1870 and 1890 changed the population from all Anglo-American to one-third Scandinavian. Religious preference remains predominantly LDS. A First Baptist Church chapel, built in 1960, is the only non-Mormon denominational structure. A Fellowship Bible Church meets in an existing public building. Earlier, Presbyterians built a school in 1879 and a rectory in 1890, and the Reorganized LDS Church purchased those buildings in 1900. A change in the city's southern border took place in 1924; Lindon, known as the Southfields, a farming stretch two and one-half miles wide, and extending from Utah Lake to the east mountains in length, became an incorporated city. Pleasant Grove's farming area and population thereupon decreased considerably.

From the beginning, men and women often sought part-time work outside the community to supplement their farm income. With the building in 1942 of Geneva Steel, three miles to the southwest, farmers and their families saw an opportunity for higher wages with fewer work hours invested, and many were enticed into giving up small-acreage farming. Farming as an area occupation began to diminish.

Since World War II, Pleasant Grove has experienced ever-increasing major subdividing of farms for house building. Today few farms remain. Sons returning from the war settled in town but worked elsewhere; the population explosion, increased work opportunities outside the community, and fast and convenient transportation all contributed to transform the town into a bedroom community with few shopping amenities. Pleasant Grove has evolved into a desirable living area, with eight parks, a new public library, numerous recreational facilities, and a low crime rate.

The 1990 population profile shows that forty percent of the residents are age fourteen and younger, and the median age is twenty-one. During the past decade, the population grew by 2,634. Its current population of 13,476 places Pleasant Grove twentieth largest among Utah cities.

See: Howard R. Driggs, Timpanogos Town (1948).

Beth Radmall Olsen