Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image One structure remains standing in the ghost town of Benmore near Vernon.

September 3, 2015
100 years ago Benmore preempted Rush Valley’s new school

While my eyes have seen the Scottish Ben Lomond, they’ve never beheld Benmore.

Benmore was a town five and a half miles south of Vernon.

It’s gone.

Settlers first headed out to Benmore in1863, although it didn’t go by that name at the time.

In 1873 the area was known as Petersburg, after Peter Jorgensen, who homesteaded a ranch in the area.

In 1895, one of the area’s residents, Israel Bennion, suggested the settlers should move closer to Harker Creek.

His suggestion met with opposition, but Bennion led out and moved his home to the new area anyway.

His wife, Jeannette, who was from Scotland, named the new place “Ben Lomond.”

Ben Lomond is a scenic peak on the eastern shore of Scotland’s musically famous Loch Lomond.

I imagine she was hoping that one of the peaks of the Sheeprock Mountains would remind her of her native country.

Bennion encouraged experimentation with dry farming in the area. The experiment brought new families to the area.

In August 1911, Bennion approached Tooele County Schools about a school in the area, now known as the Bennion Creek Settlement.

Bennion learned that the county school commissioners agreed that the Vernon area needed another school, but if Bennion didn’t act fast the new school would go to Rush Valley.

Bennion returned home and signed up 20 children to attend school.

The area began to thrive. In 1914 the LDS Church organized a branch in the area. The organization of the branch prompted a search for a new name for the community.

The name Petersburg was already in use.

The residents settled on Benmore, a contraction of Bennion and Skidmore.

Charles Skidmore was a professor of agriculture at the University of Utah. He was instrumental in the organization of dry farms in the area.

In 1914, a new brick school building opened up in Benmore. Records show a grand total of 65 people attended Sunday meetings held at the school in 1915.

Shortly after the school opened population in the area started to dwindle. In 1918, as the price of wheat fell and the lack of consistent rainfall made even dry farming unprofitable, many community members moved to Vernon.

The planned LDS church meetinghouse in Benmore was never built. Benmore literally fell prey to “economic obsolescence.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s new deal agency, the Agricultural Resettlement Administration, purchased the Benmore farms and ranches.

In 1954 the land was turned over to the U.S. Forest Service. Perhaps Rush Valley would have been a better location for that 1914 schoolhouse.

Last month the Tooele County School District sold 2.5 acres in Benmore, the town that no longer exists.

Almost 100 years after the now-extinct Benmore School opened, schools on the other end of the county are busting at the seams.

At the same meeting that the sale of the Benmore property was approved, the school board decided to ask voters to approve a bond to build a new schoolhouse in the fast growing community of Stansbury Park.

The bond will also pay to combine two older schools into one efficient new structure, provide funds to secure lands for future buildings, and provide needed upgrades and expansions at other school facilities.

I wonder if the school district still owns the site of the former Lofgreen School?

Thank you, to Elizabeth Mitchell and the Daughters of Utah Pioneers’ “History of Tooele County,” for their account of the life and times of Benmore, Utah.

Gone, but not forgotten.

Tim Gillie

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim covers education, Tooele City government, business, real estate, politics and the state Legislature. He became a journalist after a long career as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America. Tim is a native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University.

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