Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Intermountain Indian School

For a little town, Brigham City has a lot of unique history. We get the most questions about the Bushnell Hospital and the Intermountain Indian School. Unfortunately, there wasn't much written about either one and when they left, they took their history with them. I was reading through a thesis given to us by Lewis A. Williams, written in 1991, called "The Intermountain Indian School" and he gave a short history of both. Here is a short excerpt:

"The Intermountain Indian School began as Bushnell Hospital, serving injured American service during World War II. Activated August 21, 1942 as a 3,377 bed infirmary, Bushnell also contained a prisoner of war camp. German, Italian, and Japanese prisoners served as "employees" in non-critical roles to maintain the hospital.

By January, 1945, capacity increased to 4,591 beds, a staff of well over a thousand, and admissions in 1945 alone above 10,000. Then to the surprise of Brigham City, government officials in Washington, D.C. decided to close and declare surplus the entire facility in June 1946.

Local businessmen and the Chamber of Commerce fought the decision vehemently. This four year old, fourteen million dollar facility was discarded by a decision to form a Veterans Hospital and subsequent medical school on the grounds of the University of Utah in Salt Lake.

What this 300 acre site had to offer was incredible. Three thousand-plus beds, over one hundred buildings, a new pool, a three hundred seat theatre, four bowling alleys, two gymnasiums, four tennis courts. four baseball diamonds, and a small golf course, combined to present an enticing package to prospective buyers.

However, repeated efforts to reopen or find other tenants failed and Bushnell remained closed. In 1948, Colonel Joseph Hill was finalizing plans to transform the facility into a coeducational military academy for youth. Apparently out of nowhere, Republican Senator Arthur Watkins of Utah, the "terminationist," entered the situation and "stole" the grounds from Hill a week before he was to seal the deal."

Stay tuned for more....


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