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Country: United States
City: American Fork, Utah
Issues of this title available in Elephind: 285
Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 2,320
Earliest Date: 3 January 1914
Latest Date: 30 December 1922
The Utah town of American Fork was named for the river that flows down from the lofty peaks of the southern Wasatch Mountains. How the American Fork River got its name, however, remains a mystery. By one local account, American fur trappers claimed the creek in the 1820s, and named it accordingly. Another story says passing gold-seekers named the river in 1849, planning to return if things did not pan out in California. Yet another version says it was sensibly named to distinguish it from the Spanish Fork River to the south.
Whatever the genesis of its name, the river attracted Mormon settlers who founded American Fork in 1850 about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City. Primarily a ranching community, the town grew more slowly than its southern neighbor Provo. Yet by 1853, the settlement incorporated. Thirteen years later, the town proudly opened Utah’s first free public school. Newcomers continued to arrive. In 1890, American Fork boasted 1,942 citizens; 10 years later its population had grown to 2,732.
American Fork first got a newspaper in 1868. The Weekly Gazette was written in pen-and-ink manuscript, and included items like “Original Poetry,” “An Essay on Astronomy,” and “Wit and Humor” before folding after about 12 editions. The American Fork Independent debuted in March 1890. It provided coverage of Utah’s mining industry for the next two years. Other American Fork newspapers included the Item, an “Independent Weekly,” which survived for less than three years, and The Advance, which succumbed after just 12 weeks in 1901.
The Citizen first appeared May 27, 1903, and proved far more durable. Published every Saturday, the newspaper thrived by providing American Fork readers a mix of local and national news, along with light-hearted material. For instance, in the summer of 1906 items in the Citizen included coverage of a visit by President Teddy Roosevelt to the Panama Canal Zone (“if the dirt doesn’t fly, some of the bosses will”); an account of a horse-and-buggy accident in Provo that left a baby dead; a how-to guide on dry farming, and the following: “Four [young] girls surrounded a big black snake the other day and stabbed it to death with hatpins. Oh that Mother Eve had been so courageous—and had possessed a hatpin!”
In 1912, the newspaper changed hands and added the name of the town to its masthead, becoming the American Fork Citizen. The paper thrived under that title for decades, until it was absorbed in 1979 by Utah County’s largest newspaper, the Provo Daily Herald, which currently distributes an online edition of the American Fork Citizen.
Provided by: University of Utah, Marriott Library