Lehi, the northernmost community in Utah Valley, was first settled by a small group of Mormons in the fall of 1850. Known as Sulphur Springs that first year, the community later was named Dry Creek and then Evansville. Early in 1852 local bishop David Evans presented a petition to the Utah Territorial Legislature requesting that the community be incorporated. This request was granted on 5 February 1852, making the town Utah’s sixth oldest. Also approved was Bishop Evans’s suggestion that the town be named Lehi. Like the Book of Mormon patriarch of the same name, the colonizers of Lehi had been uprooted on numerous occasions before finally settling in their promised land.
Agriculture (producing wheat, oats, barley, and alfalfa) and animal industries (cattle ranching, sheep raising, dairying, poultry raising, fisheries, and mink ranching) have made a profound impact on the economic history of the community. With the establishment of the Utah Sugar Company’s first plant in Lehi in 1890, the sugar beet became the town’s most important cash crop and remained so until after World War I.
Important early industries in Lehi included Mulliner’s Grist Mill (1856-90), the Lehi Banner newspaper (1891-1914), Lehi Cereal Mill (1922-74), Lehi Stone, Marble, and Granite Works (1897-1930), and the Standard Knitting Factory Company (1904-09).
A wide range of companies continue to maintain offices in Lehi in the 1990s.
Historical sites and points of interest in the area include the best-preserved portion of the Pony Express Trail in Utah (at the Point of the Mountain). Indian Ford at the Jordan River and Dugout–a Pony Express and Overland Trail station–are also located west of town. Seven People’s Co-op buildings, once part of the ZCMI chain, remain in Lehi. The two most significant were recently recognized by ZCMI, which installed two replicas of the 1869 ZCMI sign on the building fronts.
Other important Lehi institutions include Broadbent’s (since 1882), Lehi Roller Mills (since 1905), the Lehi Free Press (since 1932), Hutch’s (since 1946), the Lehi Cafe (since 1958), La Casa Supper Club (since 1964), Porter’s Place, named for the notorious Porter Rockwell (since 1971), and the Colonial Manor (the 1913-built Smuin Dancing Academy). The Colonial House, originally Racker Mercantile, is now a beautifully restored reception and hosting center.
The Lehi Memorial Building, the first municipal structure in America specifically erected to honor the memory of World War I veterans, is to be the home of the Hutchings Museum, which has won state and national accolades for the depth and variety of its collection.
Lehi City municipal offices are housed in new facilities. The city also boasts a new public library and senior citizens complex and a public safety building, both built in 1989. In addition to one of the finest culinary water systems in the state (a $3.74-million lead-free piping system, installed in 1989), the entire town is serviced by a pressurized irrigation system which was completed in 1990. Lehi’s power collection and distribution system, the city’s greatest single source of revenue, has been a boon to the community since 1964. At that time, city officials signed a long-term contract to purchase power from the Intermountain Consumer Power Association.
“Lehi is a good place to live,” has been the community’s official slogan since 1911. In addition to a safe, quiet, family-oriented environment, the town offers such recreational opportunities as Saratoga Resort to the southwest, Wines Park, Willow Park, the local Olympic-size swimming pool, Veteran’s baseball park, Heritage Theatre, and the world-famous Lehi Roundup rodeo, which for the past half-century has continually drawn top cowboys from all over America.
Richard S. Van Wagoner