BY CINDY A. JONES
In honor of its centennial year, the city of Clearfield has hosted a vibrant string of events throughout 2022. Festivities have included a new centennial logo contest, a historic scavenger hunt, a carnival, centennial swag, and a glow party. In late June, residents gathered to paint Center Street Bridge just in time for the Fourth of July celebration, where Clearfield held the biggest Fourth of July fireworks display in Utah.
A time capsule ceremony took place at City Hall on July 17th: the city’s official 100th birthday. Items placed inside the capsule included the new police badge, a Clearfield history book spanning the city’s history from 1887-1997, and letters from administrators to their successors, which shared their vision for the city in the next 100 years.
It’s a wonder to think about what Clearfield might look like when that capsule is opened, considering how vastly different the city looked just 100 years ago.
In 1922, only around 700 people lived in the area now known as Clearfield. City streets were narrow gravel roads, linking homesteads to Main Street, the train depot for the Bamberger railroad, Clearfield State Bank, and the Pioneer school: a tiny two-room schoolhouse for children up to eighth grade. On a hot summer afternoon, as farmers were gleaning their gardens and orchards for the coming harvest season, Clearfield officially became an incorporated city. That night, there were no concerts or fireworks. The sky shimmered only with stars.
Around 1877, when the first homesteaders arrived in the area deemed by Native Americans as “The Land of Wind and sand,” water was scarce. The settlers dug into the dry land, hoping to hit springs and build wells, often to no avail. Water was brought in from Kays creek in large barrels, which was a cumbersome task. Around 1884, the Weber-Davis canal was extended from Kaysville, bringing water from the Weber River, and more people moved into the area at the promise of fertile, irrigated lands for crops. Soon, the area burgeoned as a thriving farm community.
In the 1940s, the addition of defense facilities in the areas reshaped the city’s landscape as well as its narrative. In 1940, construction began for Hill Air Force base. The facility would eventually span the eastern border of Clearfield, becoming one of Northern Utah’s most prominent employers.
Later, the U.S. Navy purchased land on the southwestern side of Clearfield for the Clearfield Naval Supply Depot, paying local farmers market value for their lost land and crops. The depot was finished in 1943. After the Korean War, as the need for the depot and a hub for military supplies became less critical, many laborers left and took jobs at Hill Air Force Base, which continues to be a major employer in Northern Utah. The Naval depot closed in 1962.
The Frontrunner Station, The Aquatic & Fitness Center, and Clearfield Community Arts Center, all established in the 2000s, have helped connect the city to surrounding areas and attract new residents as the city continues to grow in the 21st century.
From a peaceful farming community, to a military hub, to a diverse and thriving city of over 30,0000 residents, Clearfield has grown and transformed while remaining true to its steadfast roots. The centennial celebration is meant to be a reflection of both the city’s origins and its dynamic strength.
Happy Birthday, Clearfield! Here’s to another 100 years!