Written Histories

WRITTEN HISTORIES
Riverdale City, Utah

For a printable version click here.

To read "A History of Riverdale" by Lucille Child Judkins click here.

Riverdale Past

Riverdale is situated in south central Weber County. It was once called "Stringtown" due to the early homes being strung along a single road and the Weber River. It was also known as "Jack Thompson's Settlement" and "Union" before the name of Riverdale was given to the town

The first settlers in the community were James Graham, his sons George and Robert, and other members of the family. They farmed in the area as early as 1850. Elisha Lane located nearby, as did William Farley, and Rufus Allen. Other early settlers of Riverdale included Adam Fife, Alexander Patterson, Warren C. Child, Thomas Slater, Richard Woolsey, John Child, John C. Thompson, William Stimpson, Myron Barber Child, and George Ritter

In 1853, Daniel Burch built a grist mill on the east side of the Weber River. Later he added a saw mill to rip logs and saw lumber for homes. The river bottoms were covered with cottonwood timber which supplied the lumber. In 1858, Apostle John Taylor of the L.D.S. Church, purchased the mill and made improvements, including the establishment of a carding machine. Richard Dye and Edward Stratton took charge of the grist mill and carding machin.

Other early industries included a blacksmith shop built in about 1860. Matches were manufactured by Hugh Findlay. He packaged them in pasteboard boxes of 200 and sold them for 25 cents a box. Milk was hauled in from the Morgan area and was processed at the Creamery. Settlers also enjoyed the convenience of a canning factory.

The pioneer settlers dug a canal taking water out of the Weber River near the eastern bend for the purpose of irrigating the bottom land. They raised hay, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, and sugar beets.

John Child was the first postmaster. Mail came once a week. Hugh Findlay was the first teacher in the log school house in 1858. The school house was located at about what is presently 1000 West 4400 South. In 1862, a larger log building was constructed, and then replaced by a rock school house in 1865. It served until 1900.

The population of Riverdale in 1878 was 211.

The Town of Riverdale was incorporated March 4, 1946 with Mondell Bennett serving as the first President of the Town Board. Alexander Carlsen and Frank Warner subsequently served as President also. Riverdale became a third class city on July 7, 1956. Edwin G. Anderson, the presiding President, became the first man to officially have the title of Mayor. He was also the first elected mayor. Other mayors have included Gail Sanders, Keith N. Oram, L. Leon Poulsen, and Ben A. Jones.

Through proper planning and the dedicated services of many people, Riverdale City now enjoys the benefits of street lights, traffic lights, sewer and water systems, two fine parks, and 24 hour a day fire and police protection for citizens and businesses

Riverdale Present

Riverdale City presently boasts approximately 8250 residents and about 350 businesses and home occupations. The City employs 41 full time employees, 43 part time employees, and 13 seasonal employees to provide services to the residents and businesses. Riverdale City encompasses sections of two Interstate highways and a major thoroughfare - Riverdale Road. Riverdale City is a focal point in Weber County, because of its business district and since it is the first city many see as they enter Weber County from the south. Riverdale makes an excellent first impression for all of Weber County

The community of Riverdale is situated on the border of Hill Air Force Base, which is one of the largest bases for Air Materiel Command. Many of the military and civilian personnel who work at Hill reside in Riverdale. Riverdale enjoys a good relationship with Hill Air Force Base. When shifts change at the Base, Riverdale Road experiences a heavy influx of traffic due to the fact that it a major roadway from Hill to Riverdale as well as to neighboring communities

The business district in Riverdale enhances the economic well being of the area. The broad tax base provided by the business district is the envy of surrounding cities. This tax base has also helped City officials to keep property tax rates consistently at one of the lowest levels in Weber County.

The large business district and busy highways provide another unique concern for the City - that of law enforcement. Riverdale has a relatively large police force (16 officers) for its population, due to the special needs of the area. It is the finest department in the area, and law enforcement officers are eager to come to work for Riverdale. Businesses and residents appreciate the fine protection provided by the Riverdale Police Department.

Because of the highway system through Riverdale, the Justice Court has an unusually high case load for this type of court. The Court employs a part time Justice Court Judge, two full time court clerks, and two part time clerk.

Three full-time employees and twenty-five part-time fire fighters staff the fire department. We also have some of the finest equipment in the County. The fire department holds weekly training sessions for its members, and encourages its members to attend other training sessions provided by other entities, such as State sponsored sessions.

Riverdale City is continually striving to plan for the future needs and growth of the City. Improvements have been made to the water system with the addition of a well and 2 million gallon storage tank. Riverdale City has become a major regional retail center as well as a thriving residential community.

With all the growth and development, it has become increasingly critical to preserve open green space and recreational areas. Riverdale City has completed the river parkway trail form the south border to the north where it connects to other Weber County trails. The natural area along the Weber River is a haven within this busy community. The trails network is available for the enjoyment of all citizens to walk, bike, or skate. The open space is an area preserved for natural wildlife and habitat.

Planning to meet the future needs of the City is a continual challenge. The Mayor and Council met with department heads and staff in January 1995 to formulate a Strategic Plan document which outlines the mission statement and objectives of the City as well as goals for the coming ten years. The General Plan of the City was revised and adopted April 30, 1997. This document outlines the plan for the City in terms of zoning, development, infrastructure and services.

In 1985, Riverdale moved its city offices into a new Civic Center located in a wooded area on the east side of the Weber River. In 1990 the basement of the Civic Center was completed and the Community Center was made available for meetings and gatherings for personal and professional groups. In 1992, a new Public Works building was completed north-east of the Civic Center. The new Law Enforcement Complex was completed in the fall of 1994 just north of the Civic Center. In early 1995 the Civic Center offices were remodeled and refurbished to better meet the growing needs of the citizens. A new Fire Station and Community Center were completed date 1998. A new Senior Center and Housing Facility opened in 2005. City services have continued to grow to meet the needs of a thriving community.

Many of Riverdale's residents work for the United States Government at facilities including Hill Air Force Base and Internal Revenue Service, as well as many private industries in the area.

Each year, Riverdale celebrates Old Glory Days on July 4. The festivities have traditionally included such events as a Sunrise Service and flag raising, fund-raising breakfast and lunch sponsored by the Riverdale Lions Club, parade, carnival and booths, and fireworks. The festivities have been planned and coordinated mostly by volunteers.

Riverdale City also has an active Youth City Council. Youth and their adult advisors learn about the functioning of local government and participate in many service projects within the community. This group has become an important part of Riverdale City.

Riverdale is a community with a large business district. Thoughtful planning has enabled business to co-exist with the residential community in a positive atmosphere. The City still has room to grow and develop, in both residential and commercial areas.

  Riverdale  Future

As City officials, may we encourage the citizens of Riverdale to strive to make this community the best it can be. Beautify your own homes and yards. Take pride in your community. Willingly serve the community. Service may include organizing the Old Glory Days celebration, serving on the Planning Commission, volunteering to organize and direct community recreation programs or other youth programs, running for public office, or other areas of service.

Be involved in the affairs of the City. Stay informed and interested. Don't ignore an issue merely because you are only one citizen and may feel your input is of little or no importance. Your voice may be the one to make the difference.

We have taken what we had to work with in Riverdale and done our best to plan and improve our City for those to follow.  We are pleased with the achievements of Riverdale City since it was incorporated as a town. We charge you to take what we have given to you and improve on it. Keep your thoughts to the future and plan well for those to follow you.

A HISTORY OF RIVERDALE

WRITTEN BY
LUCILLE CHILD JUDKINS
March 1972

Riverdale, a part of Weber County located south and west of Ogden, was first settled by James Graham and his sons, George and Robert, and other members of the family. The Grahams had homes in Ogden but as the Indians grew more peaceable the people began to spread out farther from the city.

The Grahams laid claim to all the land between Uintah and Wilson Lane and farmed in this area as early as 1850. Elisha Lane claimed the land east around the bend of the Weber River. Other early land owners were a Mr. Kilburn and Winthrop Farley.

A territorial road was laid out along the foothills west of Grahams' land then east along Lanes' land to Weber Canyon. Mr. Kilburn claimed the land on the north side of the road from about one-half mile from the river east to the hills. Winthrop Farley purchased land toward Ogden on the north. This was about 1850.

John Ballantyne, who lived in Riverdale for 72 years, was given grants of land for work instead of pay.

At first all of this land was used primarily as herd ground and permanent homes were not built until about 1852. Rufus Allen was one of the first to make a permanent home. He located north of the territorial road where it crossed the river and about one-half mile east, where he lived until his death, which occurred in 1887.

Other early settlers were John Bright, Mister Truly, and Thomas Slater and his brothers in 1854. Then in 1855, James Heath, Richard Woolsey, Nathaniel Leavitt and Riley Cole settled in Riverdale. In 1856 Daniel Ross, Myron Barber Child, John Smith, John Cornwell, Hyrum Olmstead, James Shupe, John Squires, George Squires, George Ritter, Leo Bybee, Richard Dye, Hugh Findlay, Samuel Orley, W.C. Parker, John C. Thompson and William Stimpson came. This constitutes the principal early settlers of Riverdale.

In 1853 Daniel Burch built a grist mill on the east side of the Weber River and a little to the south of Allens' home. Later he added a sawmill to rip logs and saw lumber for homes. The river bottoms were covered with cottonwood trees which supplied the lumber.

In 1858 Apostle John Taylor, who later became president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, purchased the mill and made improvements. Among the improvements was the establishment of a carding machine. Richard Dye, William C. Parker, and Edward Stratton took charge of the grist mill and carding machine for Apostle Taylor.

After the purchase of the mill by Apostle Taylor, the mill was known as Taylor's Mill. In it were three sets of millstones placed in a row. The wheat came through a funnel to the burrs. The upper millstone was placed by a hand lever the right distance from the lower one. After processing the wheat with the first set of burrs, the coarse part remaining was transferred to the next set, and then to the third. The third processing produced the finest flour which dropped into hoppers.

In the beginning, each of the millstones weighed 2000 pounds. The mill was changed in 1896 to the roller system, but one set of the burrs was retained in the mill and was still in use in 1938. At that time the millstones measured 47-1/2 inches in diameter and 16-1/2 inches in thickness. One of these millstones, owned by the Weber County Chapter of Utah Pioneers, was situated in the Tabernacle Square just east of Pioneer Hall. An iron band was placed around it to keep it from falling apart.

Riverdale was called Stringtown for its straggling character, the first houses being built principally along a single road in the long string. It was also know as Jack Thompson's settlement for John C. Thompson, an early settler. Later it was called South Weber and still later it was known as Union. But when a post office was built the name was changed to Riverdale.

John Child was the first post master in Riverdale. Mail came once a week and letters were sent away without stamps. One sending a letter paid 10 cents at the post office for a yellow-colored envelope which had no mucilage and had to be sealed with three red wafers which were included in the price of the envelope. The wafers were about the size of a nickel but much thinner.

The pioneer settlers dug a canal taking water out of the Weber River near the eastern bend for the purpose of irrigating the bottom lands. They found the soil very productive. By means of irrigation they raised good crops of hay, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, berries and later sugar beets.

Water for household purposes was at first hauled in barrels from the river until wells could be dug. Many had open wells then pipes driven down. Hand pumps were used.

Evan Carlsen later on had a windmill which had a treadmill at the bottom run by a big Newfoundland dog. This windmill supplied water for the Carlsen garden.

Before the roads were paved there was a pipeline put in from Davis County through Riverdale to the Weber River for the sprinklers to get water to sprinkle the roads. After the roads were paved, about 1918 or 1919, there was no need for this pipeline so the people of Riverdale got permission to use it. Evan Carlsen, Charles Mitchell and George Child cleaned out some old springs across the street from the present school house and about a block south. A reservoir was put in and cool fresh spring water was piped from the school house down 4400 South eastward almost to the Weber River. The residents could now have sinks and good water piped in to their homes. This system was used until about 1947.

In October of 1947, Riverdale prepared to install a culinary water system at a cost of $120,000. A well for this purpose was drilled on the Ralph Ritter farm.

In frontier communities, settlers always experienced much inconvenience by not having matches. Mr. Findlay, who understood the manufacture of sulfur matches, which had been in use since about 1825, made and packed them in pasteboard boxes, two hundred in a box. These he sold for 25 cents a box. The matches were nearly twice the size of the ones we now use. Money was scarce in Riverdale, as elsewhere during the early days of Utah, and there were many too poor to buy the matches at this price. It was customary for them to cover the coals in their fireplaces with ashes to keep the coals alive. When this failed, or they were neglectful, they sent their children, fire shovel in hand, as far as half a mile to get live coals.

The first blacksmith shop was built by Anderness Ahlander about 1860. James Shupe did blacksmithing also. His shop was located on the south side of the lane near the west end of the wooden bridge over the Weber River.

Their homes were built of logs and adobe with dirt floors and roof. Later when the sawmill was put into use, they were able to get some rough lumber for homes and buildings. Some also took advantage of the plentiful supply of rocks along the river to build homes.

Their furniture was scarce, some of it made from logs. Their beds were made from wagon boxes, etc. Clothing was made from wagon covers and home-spun material. Their transportation was similar to that of the early pioneers.

The first schoolhouse was made of logs and built by the hill at the west end of the lane on the south side. The floor and roof were of dirt. The seats were made of split logs. There were very few books and slates were used. The first school was held during the winter of 1858-1859. W.R. Cole, Hugh Findlay and Adam Fife were the school trustees. Hugh Findlay was also the teacher.

Church services were held in this schoolhouse until a church building could be erected.

In 1862 a larger log house was built which was replaced by a rock schoolhouse in 1865. It served for all purposes until 1900 when a separate ward house was erected at a cost of $3500.

During the early period of Riverdale's history, it was a part of the Ogden Second Ward. Meetings were held in the homes of the settlers under the direction of Adam Fife, with the sanction of Bishop Edward Brinker. Fife was succeeded by Gordon Beckstead, who was followed by John C. Thompson. Sanford Bingham was the next presiding Elder. On May 28, 1877, the Riverdale Ward was organized under the direction of Warren G. Child. Sanford Bingham was ordained and set apart as the first Bishop with John C. Thompson and William Stimpson as counselors. Mr. Bingham acted in that capacity for 25 years, serving until past the end of the century.

Auxiliary organizations of the Church were also established at Riverdale. The Sunday School was organized in 1867 with Fredrick King acting as superintendent. Martha Ann Bingham was the first president of the Relief Society, which was organized in 1872. Y.M.M.I.A. was inaugurated in 1876 with Joseph Fife as president. Y.L.M.I.A. was begun in 1879 with Martha Ann Fife as president. The Primary Association was also organized in 1879 with Martha Ann Bingham as president.

The Relief Society Granary or Tithing House was located on the north side of the road and east from the Church house.

As in most pioneer communities, much of the attending to the sick and the assisting at the birth of babies was done by mid-wives. One of the first mid-wives in Riverdale was Martha Ann Bingham.

During the four months of early spring when the water of the Weber River was high, Warren G. Child ferried wagons across the river. Later, President John Taylor (then Apostle Taylor) built a toll bridge across the river.

In 1881 David Moore took a contract to build a new bridge over the Weber River at Riverdale. The contract price was $7300, part of which was appropriated by the Territorial Legislature and part by the Court of Weber County. Nearly 40,000 feet of lumber was used. This structure rested on two substantial abutments built of sandstone and granite rock which were laid in cement mortar. These abutments rested on 56 iron piles, which were driven 20 feet below watermark. They were capped with heavy timbers on which the rock work was built.

Mr. Moore was under contract to have the bridge completed by a certain date with a penalty of $50 per day for overtime. He had difficulty in securing steel and when it finally arrived, he was ill. His oldest son, David M. Moore, then a very young man, assumed the responsibility. He studied his father's plans and, under his direction, took charge of the crew of 18 men and completed the job on time. This bridge was replaced at least once and a viaduct over the river and railroad tracks was made. A little later, when the highway was changed, this viaduct was torn down and replaced with an overpass built a little south of the old bridge.

There was a tannery built of rock by John C. Thompson. It was later remodeled and made into a home by John Stimpson. This house is now occupied by Virgil Hosler.

In 1878 the population of Riverdale was 211.

Around the year 1900, Riverdale was largely an agricultural town with first class fruit orchards, truck gardens, dry farms, and dairy and livestock herds. But with the population growth many changes have been made.

About 1911 there was a canning factory located back of Heiko Boekweg's home. This was operated for three or four years. A larger canning factory was constructed near the railroad tracks and the building still stands and is being used by the Ogden Trailer Supply. There was also a creamery built and operated by Joseph S. Bingham about 1905. It was located on the north side of the road across from Lesley's Trailer Court. Mile and cream was brought here from Morgan and Peterson. About 1000 pounds of butter was made here twice a week and the butter, milk and cream was sold to some of the stores in Ogden. Individual customers in and around Ogden also bought dairy products ther

New roads have been constructed and the state highway runs through the center of the City. An interstate freeway system has also been constructed through the southern and western sectio n.

About 100 businesses help supply the living needs of the citizens.

The first tourist cabins between Ogden and Salt Lake City were built here in 1927. Later several well-planned trailer courts and housing projects were developed. Home construction has flourished.

A new school was built around 1900 with additions of a cafeteria and gymnasium being made later. This building was destroyed by fire on July 17, 1966. The present Riverdale School is a $668,400 ultra-modern structure.

In the early nineteen hundreds a new brick chapel was built and used for many years until there was a need for a larger one. Then in 1924 and 1926 a new chapel was erected just to the west and a tunnel type walkway went from amusement hall to the basement of the old one. The chapel part of the old building was used for the boys to play basketball in. This old building was finally torn down and a new addition made to the existing one and a large parking area made. At present, there are plans for a new meeting house to be built at this site.

Riverdale also has another chapel and stake house built on the east of the Weber River.

There are at present five Riverdale Wards. The Terrace 5th and Ogden 49th wards also have Riverdale members attending them.

In March of 1946, the town of Riverdale was incorporated, completing the final link of incorporated areas between Ogden and Salt Lake City. Alexander Carlsen was the first President of the Town Board. On July 7, 1956, Riverdale became a third class city. The then-presiding president of the town board, G. Edwin Anderson, became the first man to officially have the title of Mayor of Riverdale.

During 1957 a sewer system for the town was installed.

A planning and zoning board planned for the future developments of the town which is zoned to include industrial, residential, commercial, and agricultural areas.

Street lights were installed in February of 1955.

The first place used for a town hall was a room on the west end of the W.J. Greaser Store. A City Hall was built during the summer of 1959 which contains a council room, business office, rest rooms, fire-proof vault, justice of the peace and police officers' rooms. It also includes a fire station and locker and shower rooms for the volunteer firemen.

The town has the advantages of gas, water, sewer, lights, rural mail service, two drive-in movie theaters, a twin dome theater, two parks, a golf course and 24-hour a day police and fire protection. Telephone service has also been available to the Riverdale residents since 1883.

Several grocery stores have been in Riverdale over the years. Among the first was in the home of Adele Stratton. Later on her son, William, built a store near the canning factory.

A monument to Miles Goodyear and Captain James Brown has been built along Highway 91 in Riverdale. In 1847, Captain Brown purchased practically all of Weber County for $3000. He established a post office which he called Brownsville, Oregon. It later became Ogden, Utah, named for Peter Skeene Ogden, a British trapper.

The population of Riverdale was 211 in 1878; 1850 in 1960; 2400 in 1967; and 3704 in 1972. In 1975, Riverdale has an estimated population of approximately 5000.

Information received from:

History written by Warren G. Child Jr.
History written by Warren G. Child Sr. (journal)
Alexander Carlsen
Riverdale City Directories 1966 - 1970
Ogden City Directories 1878 - 1883
Beneath Ben Lomond's Peak by Milton R. Hunter
Ogden Standard Examiner
Martha Davis, Recorder, City of Riverdale  

Riverdale City - 4600 South Weber River Drive, Riverdale, Utah 84405 - 801-394-5541 - email: info@riverdalecity.com