Curated by: The Brigham City Heritage Tours Team
Bushnell General Hospital
In 1942, Bushnell General Hospital, a 1500-bed U.S. Army Hospital, was built by the federal government to treat World War II wounded. In late January 1942 the War Department acquired 235 acres of property in south Brigham City. Construction began March 1, 1942, and the hospital was completed and the first patients admitted on October 10, 1942. The cost of the 60-building hospital was $9 million.
Housing was scarce because of the inundation of workmen building the hospital. Local residents opened their homes and offered virtually every spare bedroom for these workers and later for families of patients. Perc and Verabel Knudson, whose home was filled to capacity, also prepared meals for the workers in their restaurant, the Idle Isle.
Mrs. Knudson recalled, “You never thought of making money. The people of Brigham City went out of their way to help in whatever way they could. We weren’t open at the store on Mondays. We had to get a breathing spell, but we opened our home up, and we told those boys at the Bushnell that if there was anything we could do for them, they could come down and we’d feed them whatever they liked, and every Monday we had the house full of these amputees, these soldiers that came. It was a different atmosphere, and nobody regretted anything that they were able to do to help the boys.”
The hospital was named for famed tuberculosis specialist Colonel George E. Bushnell. Colonel Robert M. Hardaway was appointed commanding officer. Bushnell Hospital was one of the first medical facilities to use penicillin. Bushnell was closed in 1946 following the war. Approximately 13,000 army personnel were treated during the hospital’s life of less than four years.
Intermountain Indian School, which operated in Brigham City from 1950 to 1984, was the Bureau of Indian Affairs largest Indian boarding school. It was established as a solution to two problems then facing the federal government - the search for a new occupant for the former Bushnell General Hospital and the provision of adequate education for Navajo children. The conversion from hospital to school cost $4,250,000.
Although the boarding school was designed to accommodate 2,000 students, only 500 children were enrolled for the initial five-month period from January to May 1950. Enrollment increased gradually until it peaked at 2,150 in 1952.
Intermountain School continued successfully as a Navajo boarding school until the early 1970s when more students went to schools nearer the Navajo tribes, changing the name to Intermountain Inter-Tribal School. The school closed May 1984.
The Intermountain properties were deeded back to Brigham City Corporation, and an 18-hole golf course was developed on the south section. Lilly Pond Developers purchased the remaining property for marketing and developing. USU Brigham City, ShopKo, and several smaller companies, including two auto parts and woodworking businesses are now occupying sections of the property.
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