South Jordan City History
South Jordan was settled in 1859 by Alexander and Catherine Lince Beckstead. Like many of the first settlers in the Salt Lake Valley, their first home was a cave dug out of the river bank. These first homes were “a good sized room” (14 ft. sq.), dug into the hill, with large sun-dried adobe bricks on the front wall. Large logs covered with plants, willows, and mud and dirt formed the roof.
PICKS AND SHOVELS
With picks and shovels, the Beckstead family dug and built the Beckstead Ditch, which still exists today from 12600 South to 10600 South. The ditch diverted water from the Jordan River to irrigate crops as early as June of 1859. Later, the ditch was also used as a mill race for the White Fawn Flour Mill, the first mill in South Jordan, built by Robert M. Holt in 1895. In 1902 the mill burned down but was later rebuilt. Flour mills were very important when people grew their own food. Farmers would take their wheat, oats and barley to the mill and trade for sacks of flour, cracked cereal for breakfast mush, and “bran & shorts” to feed the animals. Water from the Beckstead ditch powered the mill until electricity was discovered and became a more convenient source of power.
South Jordan was primarily a rural farming community when it became incorporated as a town in 1935. In 1960, the population was 1,354, and by 1970 the population had more than doubled to 2,942. Housing gradually started to replace farmland as the population once again more than doubled by 1980 to 7,492 and nearly doubled by 1990 to 13,106. South Jordan’s exponential growth since the early 1970s has brought all the challenges and opportunities of growth. The current population is estimated to be 70,602 (3/2017).
Today, South Jordan’s most distinctive and recognizable landmark, visible from miles around, is the LDS Jordan River Temple overlooking the open space and protected green belts of the Jordan River Parkway. Though residential development in the Salt Lake valley has mushroomed, South Jordan is committed to preserving its natural beauty. Along the banks of the Jordan River, South Jordan City is cooperating with other government, non-profit and private groups to set aside a significant area for the South Jordan Riverway Wildlife Enhancement project.
Source: Economic Development Department documents.