The History of Ogden's 2nd Street
The Oldest Neighborhood in Ogden
Second Street west of Five Points is a busy street today. On both sides of the street are many old house enthusiasts, some with large properties that are still irrigated with pioneer ditches. In 2021 among the twenty-one old farmhouses listed here are seven horses, two cows, many chickens, a bunch of goats and a few sheep - a bit of rural atmosphere amid the city. The largest property is a 40-acre farm established in 1850. This six-block stretch of road was formerly Native American camping grounds and has stories telling how Native Americans and pioneers were brought together on the land.
For thousands of years, Native Americans camped in the area of 2nd Street from Wall Avenue to 1200 West. Stone's Pond that never froze, many springs, and meandering branches of Mill Creek made the area an ideal wintering location. Native American families lived in the area in peace and in a delicate balance with their earth Mother; the very provider of their livelihood. Shoshone Chief Terikee and Chief Little Soldier set a tone of friendliness towards the first white settlers but also demanded compensation for the intrusion on their land. In 1849 and 1850 the first Mormon families arrived on West 2nd Street, settling in an area that was a popular Native American camping ground. The settlers were also attracted to the available water and to the excellent soil that could raise anything. But in time their farms and herds destroyed the grass and plants that the Shoshone gathered.
In 1850, there was an accidental shooting of peaceful Chief Terikee. The Shoshone reacted by killing a mill worker, stealing five horses, and fleeing. It was a sad affair, and it took some time to restore good feelings on both sides. After that Mormon President Brigham Young sent more settlers to the Weber River Precinct to secure the settlement. With a new large wave of settlers, surveyors laid out the land north of the Ogden River and called it "the Farming Lands". Soon the white settlers and the Shoshone began living side-by-side along 2nd Street.
In July 1853, due to Indian and settler fighting in central Utah, Brigham Young ordered the people in the Weber settlements to “fort up” for security. Erastus Bingham supervised the gathering and building of the fort that was named after him: Bingham Fort was 80 rods square and straddled West 2nd Street. Each family that lived in the fort was assigned to build a certain portion of the walls; some completed their assignment and some didn’t. The Shoshone often camped in the open space in the center of the fort.
In the winter of 1854-55, the Shoshone gave up their guns and moved their families into the fort full time with the settlers to share the food which was scarce for all. All over the Utah Territory, new settlers and emigrant trails had destroyed the plants, grasses and animals that the Shoshone gathered for food, and the Shoshone were in danger of starving.
In time Bingham Fort extended about another 40 rods to the east and became more of village than a fort. In December 1854, the population of the fort was 562 people, the largest fort among the twenty-one forts on the Wasatch Front. Wilford Woodruff came from Salt Lake City and spoke at the fort schoolhouse and reported the population of the area to be 750. In August 1855 Brigham Young came and advised the residents to abandon this fort that was becoming a village and move to Ogden to help build a city at that location.
Bingham Fort slowly disbanded in 1856, and a farming village remained in the fort confines with a school house and a molasses mill. In the following years a post office, a saw mill, and adobe mill, a brick mill and a photo gallery were established in the village.
In 1864 the 2nd Street community was organized as the Lynne Precinct. There were 20 to 25 cabins on 2nd Street from today's Wall Avenue to 1200 W, a distance of 1 ½ miles. Between the pioneer cabins were Native American encampments. The Native Americans spent the winter here always camping in the same locations. Of course there were huge cultural differences, but here in the 1850s and 1860s the relationship between the settlers and natives was mostly positive. It was a time when the white men acknowledged that the land first belonged the Native Americans. It was the Mormon way to foster brotherhood, encourage Native Americans to farm and to share their crops with them. The Shoshone shared meat, native berries and medicines for healing. Both settlers and Shoshone became sort of bilingual and there was a pleasant mixing of their distinctive cultures.
In the early 1860s, standing on 2nd Street, fascinated settlers could peer into Native American encampments, and on certain days, see the natives as they drilled their young men and warriors. The braves would paint their faces with different colored clays, put on their war attire, race their ponies in different maneuvers, ride bare back, shoot their bows and arrows at different targets, and yell their war cries.
Also in the early 1860s, fascinated young braves like to come to the school house and watch the white settlers at their weekly dances that lasted until 4 am. The Waltz, Turkey in the Straw, the Virginia Reel and even the Minuet were popular. Sometimes the braves tried to dance with each other or with a white boy but never with the white girls. However, there was one exception. A young fiddler, Art Stone, taught one of the braves how to dance, and he came with Art to the dances handsomely dressed in white doe-skin, heavily embroidered and fringed. The white girls liked to dance with him as he could dance as many fancy steps as any of the white boys.
In the Territory as the white settlement increased, it became harder to preserve Shoshone camping and hunting areas. In 1869 the transcontinental railroad arrived in Ogden and even crossed West 2nd Street and ran by Stone's Pond. The expansive railroad rapidly increased commerce, industry, and the white population and pushed the Native Americans off their land by the mid 1870s.
On 2nd Street in the 1880s an influx of Italian immigrants began settling in the old fort. In 1889 Ogden City annexed Lynne Precinct and the area was now called Five Points. The Gentile Mayor Kiesel wanted to “Americanize” Ogden to prepare for statehood, and he renamed streets in 1889, changing the name of Bingham Fort Lane to 2nd Street. In the 1890s Five Points grew so rapidly that some thought it would become the largest business district of Ogden. On January 4, 1896, Utah became the 45th state in the United States of America.
By the late 1890s there were many Italian families on 2nd Street, particularly in the confines of old Bingham Fort; the fort became a gathering place again for a group of poor immigrants, not unlike the immigrants that gathered in Bingham Fort forty years earlier. At this time 2nd Street west of Five Points was dubbed “Little Italy”.
Most of the Italians were farmers, living side by side with the Mormon farmers that were already there, forming a vibrant community that shared horses, planting and harvest work. The Golden Age of the family farm extended from about 1906 to 1940. In the 1940s wartime demand gave way to surpluses and prices fell. Approximately 1,139 acres of land was taken from the 2nd Street farming community for the Defense Depot Ogden and many farmers on 2nd Street were forced to leave.
Journals, family histories, and the History of the Lynne Ward provide information on the Bingham Fort era, the Little Italy Era and the Golden Age of the Family Farm. In 2022, the forty-acre 1851 Bingham/Stone Farm where the Shoshone camped is still here in a conservation easement with the State of Utah. Houses that the Shoshone entered in friendship still stand on 2nd Street; some of these houses date to the 1860s. The farm and houses and the former Shoshone presence make 2nd Street "the Oldest Neighborhood in Ogden".
In 2021, the Bicentennial of Little Soldier's birth, Ogden City Council approved an honorary road name for West 2nd Street: Chief Little Soldier Way, to honor the last chief of the Weber Northwestern Shoshone and to acknowledge West 2nd Street and surrounding area as Native American camping grounds.
Honorary road name Chief Little Soldier Way extends for four blocks on West 2nd Street where Bingham Fort once stood and where the Shoshone lived for the winter of 1853-54 with the white settlers.
Meet the Shoshone: Katie Nelson of Weber County Heritage Foundation holds a microphone for Rios Pacheco giving a blessing in the Shoshone language on the celebration August 7, 2021 on the Bingham/Stone Farm on W. 2nd Street. Rios is an elder and a board member of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation.
Signage at Meet the Shoshone.