A Basic History
The region, known today as Davis, was frequented by the Shoshone people before the presence of any anglo people. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chose Davis as one of the first areas they settled due to its lush pastures, fertile soil from the benches and streams flowing down from the Wasatch Mountains. Davis was slow to grow after its inception and even with improved transportation, many left to find work in Ogden and Salt Lake City.
The Utah Central Railroad (now the Union Pacific) crossed the county from Ogden to Salt Lake City, bringing better transportation, mechanized agriculture, new water systems, electricity for homes as well as surges in commerce, banking and local business. It wasn’t until World War II when Hill Air Force Base was introduced that Davis began to see rapid growth with the increase in employment opportunities beyond farming. Since the 1950s, Davis has seen its population nearly double about every 20 years and it is estimated by 2030 to be home to approximately 390,000.
The Early Peoples
Our history goes back to the early nomadic Paleo-Indians who roamed the area about 12,000 years ago hunting mammoths, camels, bison and other wild animals — yes, back in the day camels were native to Utah. The Paleo-Indians were followed much later by the horticulturist Fremont people who lived in the northern portion of the Great Basin in shallow, earth-covered dwellings. Beginning around A.D. 1300, the ancestors of the Native American Southern Paiute, Ute, Goshute and Shoshone tribes we know today made the Davis region their home.
Fast-forward to 1846 where over a period of a few months more than 10,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints left their homes in Nauvoo, Illinois and headed west for religious refuge — a common theme for Anglo-American history. Multiple temporary towns and farms were established by the pioneers across Iowa and the Missouri River prior to the arduous trek to the Rocky Mountains. The first expedition of pioneers to come to Utah quickly discovered the lush land and streams in the northern region above the Great Salt Lake. It wasn’t until 1850 that our lovely Davis was established as a territory and two years later it became a county. It was named after the early pioneer leader, Daniel C. Davis — one of the rare counties not named after a natural resource or Native American word.
Choo Choo! The transcontinental railroad arrived in 1869. With the growing number of industries and technological advancements, Davis began to see dwindling numbers as people moved away for more work opportunities outside of agriculture. However, with the onset of World War II, the Hill Air Force Base, originally known as Hill Field, was created bringing a job boom back into the county. The base’s original mission was to repair and maintain aircraft for the Army Air Corps. By 1943, Hill Field was the largest employer in Utah, employing 6,000 on-duty military personnel and 15,000 civilians.
Today and into the Future
Beyond the Hill Air Force Base, we have grown to become Utah’s Amusement Capital. With Lagoon Amusement Park relocating to Farmington in 1899, the opening of Cherry Hill Resort in 1967, Antelope Island’s designation as a state park in 1993 and continued additions to our family-friendly nature, it’s no surprise we’ve become a haven for adventurers and residents alike. What Davis lacks in size, it makes up for in great people, parks and outdoor destinations.