Draper, a City With a Remarkable Past
“You live where?” This is the question the residents of Draper were asked before the year 1978. To many, Draper was just another town located on the south end of Salt Lake County. The history behind Draper beings in the fall of 1849 when settlers discovered a beautiful cove of approximately 15 square miles. There were four streams in the area and it appeared to be good pasture land for cattle and horses.
The first settlers, Ebenezer Brown, his wife, Phoebe and five children arrived in 1849-1850. Others followed and soon Draper was a booming town with 20 families. These families brought with them sheep and cattle for home use.
The first furrow was plowed by Norman Brown in the year 1850. He planted 10 acres of corn and so began a long history of farming in this community.
When driving along Fort Street you may wonder how this street got is name. Because of the threat of Indian uprisings, Ebenezer Brown donated land for a fort in the area of 12650 South and east of 900 East with dimensions of 35 rods north to south and 23 rods east to west. The fort walls of adobe brick were started in 1853, then in 1857, when word of Johnson’s army arrived, they began to widen the wall and extend its height. The fort is in the area where the Draper Historical Park is now located. It was big enough to house 31 families.
Draper comprised all of the settlements south of Jordan High School to the point of the mountain, east to the Wasatch Mountains and west across the Jordan River. It also originally included Riverton and Bluffdale.
Ebenezer Brown and his sons, Norman and Gurnsey, brought the first cattle to Draper in 1849-1850 to fatten and sell to emigrants going to California.
A Pony Express Station was built south of the present prison site near Warm Springs. The station served as a boarding house with rooms to rent. It was operated by Orrin Porter Rockwell, who was a famous scout and body guard to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
Draper had its rough times as does any new settlement. They suffered all the same growing pains as other towns and now we as a community enjoy a good life because of our ancestors’ struggles.
From blacksmith shops and sawmills to molasses factories, Draper grew and industry expanded. Ditches and canals were built and the railroad come to Utah and made its way around the Point of the Mountain. Draper became the largest sheep center in the state. As the poultry business flourished, Draper became known as the Egg Basket of Utah. In 1924, the Draper Milk Cooler was built to help the dairy famers better cool their milk. These businessses proved to be very successful for many years to come.
We live in Draper, a city with a remarkable past. Today, instead of farmland, we have home and businesses and many of the residents here have witness much of the above.
You can find the complete history of Draper in The History of Draper Volume Two at the Draper Historical Museum.