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‘Lost Industries’ featured at the Heritage Museum of Layton
Article Published 02/18/2015
Did you know that most of Layton City used to run on the factory whistle?
For some 44 years, from 1915 to 1959, the change of shift whistles at the Layton Sugar Company -- particularly the 4 p.m. siren -- is what many Layton residents used to set their clocks by.
“Lost Industries,” a fascinating look back at some of the key agricultural industries of old in Layton and Kaysville, is the new featured exhibit at the Heritage Museum of Layton.
Located at 403 North Wasatch Drive, this display will be open through November.
According to Bill Sanders, museum curator, to remember these businesses, the museum has gathered pictures and artifacts that tell the story of how important these businesses were to the development of Davis County and the State of Utah.
“The economic impact was huge,” Sanders said of these industries, especially back in the era before Hill Air Force Base, when Layton was principally a rural, agricultural community.
With the progress of time, most of these industries had closed their doors by the mid-1950s. Agriculture was the basis for most of these businesses and they became the victims of urbanization as Davis County grew in population during the 1950s and 1960s and the available farmland decreased.
The earliest of these “Lost Industries” were the grist and flour mills. In 1854, John Weinel built the first grist mill in the northern end of Davis County. This Kaysville mill operated for over 40 years and was one of the area’s most important businesses.
In 1866, Christopher Layton (namesake of Layton City) and William Jennings established the Layton Flour Mill in Kaysville, just a block and a half west of the Weinel Mill. This mill was steam powered and operated for over 35 years. In 1890, the Layton Milling and Elevator Company was established and in 1902 the Kaysville Flour Company was started.
In 1922, these two mills were combined into one company and these two mills produced thousands and thousands of pounds of processed flour that was sold throughout the western United States.
In 1892 the first canning company was established in Davis County and within ten years, there were five canneries operating in Woods Cross, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse and Clearfield. These plants processed and canned peas, beans, corn, tomatoes, and produced ketchup and pickles. All were gone by the 1950s.
In 1915, the granddaddy of all such area industries, the Layton Sugar Company, was established on what became known as Sugar Street. Thousands of acres of land were devoted to the raising of sugar beets and the Layton factory produced “Mountain Brand” sugar for 44 years.
At one time the Layton Sugar Company was the largest employer in Davis County and boasted an adjacent hotel. The factory, which was located just northwest of today’s Smith’s Plant, closed in 1959 and most of its equipment went to a factory in Garland, Utah.
Sanders said it was Hill AFB that killed the sugar beet industry in the area. Farmers could earn a much better salary – with benefits – by working at Hill. Also, the rising popularity of cane sugar was another factor.
Layton and Kaysville were also large producers of cattle, horses and sheep. By the mid-1920s thousands of sheep and cattle were loaded onto railcars in Layton and shipped to eastern markets.
For example, in 1925, a huge shipment of Layton area sheep was orchestrated by Dell Adams. Some 64 railcars holding 17,391 sheep were shipped from Layton to the east.
Two important ranching companies were the Morgan Land and Livestock Company and the Thornley Land and Livestock Company. Both ceased operation in the 1930s, victims of the Great Depression.
In 1915, Dr. Summer Gleason started the Utah Fruit Juice Company in Kaysville. It processed cherries, apricots and peaches for sale to restaurants and grocery stores in Salt Lake City and Ogden as well as other large cities in the West. Over 9,000 quarts of fruit juice were processed per year.
This business died as a result of the Great Depression, but not before the Gleason Early Elberta Peach was developed by Gleason, a variety that’s still a mainstay in Utah today – particularly the Brigham City area.
-The museum hours are: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 1-5 p.m. The museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Admission is free.