West Jordan was
on of the earliest Utah pioneer settlements after the founding of Salt
Lake City. The community's roots begin in the later part of 1849 when
some pioneers began spreading out in the Salt Lake valley. West Jordan's
original unofficial area included most of the valley on the West Side
of the Jordan River, and about a three-mile strip on the east side of
the river past State Street in an area now occupied by Midvale, Sandy and the former Crescent area.
name captures some of the flavor of what the Mormon pioneers considered
their promised land. They saw strong similarities in this arid western
desert and the biblical lands. Both contained fresh water lakes (Sea
of Galilee and Utah Lake) and dead salt water rivers (River Jordan and
Utah River.) This similarity in geological features led to this area
being referred to as a western Jordan and the southern part of the valley
as the Jordan Valley. Brigham Young reinforced this concept when he
renamed the Utah River the West Jordan River, which was shortened through
time and use to the Jordan River.
The first settlers
in the present area known as West Jordan were the Marius Ensign, Thomas
Butterfield, and Samuel Egbert families. Other settlers soon followed.
In 1850 Archibald Gardner and his brother Robert built a 2.5 mile millrace
(canal) to bring water out of the Jordan River to the area of 7800 South.
The water thus channeled was to provide a source of power for the saw
mill they built the following year. Before long the population began
to cluster near this general area and other enterprises were built and
operated such as a flour mill, woolen mill, and tannery. Many settlers
initially built dugouts to live in near the crest of the hill overlooking
the river bottoms where farming was done. Although the original flour
mill was burned by fire, it was rebuilt and still stands. During the
1980's it was converted into a fine furniture and delightful gift shop
before a quality restaurant was added as well as a little village complex
on the adjoining land.