Curated by: The Brigham City Heritage Tours Team
Soon after the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge was established west of Brigham City, local businessman J.E. Ryan started campaigning to have a welcome arch installed across Brigham City’s Main Street. Such arches were popular in small-town America between 1915 and 1940.
The Commercial Club (later the Brigham City Chamber of Commerce) sponsored the project and collected donations to finance it. By the time the sign was installed in September of 1928, they had received all but $200 of the total cost of $2,400 in citizen donations.
On September 6, the steel girders were hoisted into place 23 feet above the street by block and tackle, and power was supplied by caterpillar tractors. The sign itselft, which was attached the following week, measured 9 by 33 feet and bore the words: “Welcome to Brigham, Gateway World’s Greatest Game Bird Refuge.” The 12-inch-high letters in the words “Welcome to” were opalite glass, and the word “Brigham” was written in 30-inch channeled letters. A painting of wild ducks and the installation of more than 350 electric lights embellished the finished sign.
It was dedicated September 13, 1928 during the local Peach Days harvest celebration. The dedication program consisted of speeches, presentations, and music from the Brigham City Municipal Band before the lights were turned on to illuminate the sign.
In December 1984, the sign was taken down and replicated with newer materials. Improvements to the sign were made by Young Electric Sign Company, the same company which had built the original sign. The sign’s north side had been removed and used as a pattern for the new faces of the sign which maintained original colors and wording. New clear neon tubes replaced the older ones. The $26,000 cost of the project was paid for by the Redevelopment Agency, consisting of the Brigham City Council. The new sign was erected during the morning hours of December 27, with the job completed and the street reopened by noon.
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