This question might be pondered, particularly by persons interested in future growth, as the city marks its 129th birthday anniversary.
Yesterday was the anniversary date. It will be commemorated officially Wednesday by the Senior Citizens and the Sons and Daughters of the Utah Pioneers of Provo.
It was April 1, 1849 that the first colony of Mormon settlers arrived on the banks of the Provo River. After a couple of days of exploration the pioneers started building Fort Utah, forerunner to Provo, on April 3, according to an entry in church historical records.
That day was adopted by the Provo Clty Commission several years ago as the official date settlement began, after a team of historians had researched the early beginnings.
Colonization plans for the area started to take definite shape at a “council” meeting in Great Salt Lake City March 10, 1849, with President Brigham Young presiding. It was voted at that time that “a colony of 80 men settle in Utah Valley this spring for the purpose of farming and fishing and of instructing the Indians in cultivating the earth and of teaching them civilization.”
The mission to Provo was headed by John S. Higbee, designated as president of the Provo or Fort Utah Branch, with his brother Isaac as first counselor and Dimick B. Huntington as second counselor. The two Higbees had been bishops in Nauvoo before the Mormons came west; Huntington was well known as an interpreter of the Indian language.
By 1860 Provo was a country town of 2030 population. A few other milestones, population-wise: 1880, 3432 inhabitants; 1900, 6,185 ; 1920, 10,303 ; and 1940, 18,071.
Then, early in the next decade, came Geneva Works, spurring the pace of industrial growth. Populatlon in 1940 was at 28,937. It was 36,047 in 1960 and 53,131 in 1970. Estimates place today’s population at 66,000.
Back in the thirties and earlier, Provo was called the “Garden City.” The nickname hasn’t been used frequently in recent decades, with the orientation being more to steel and lndustry.
Tributes will be paid tomorrow to the pioneers who settled Provo and laid the foundation for this “city of destiny.” Only time can reveal the details of that destiny. But from every indication, growth is the watchword and what the next century will bring may dwarf past growth by comparison.