the raising of crops, it was necessary to irrigate the various parcels
of ground. The abundant supply of pure drinking and culinary water was
a rich asset. People from the Pleasant Grove area had been the first
to claim water from American Fork Creek for irrigation purposes. They
constructed a crude dam either late in the season of 1850 or early in
1851, making a ditch to carry the water to their lands.
The first irrigation
ditch in American Fork was made by the Mott brothers - Stephen, Israel,
Hyrum, and Squire - in 1851. Lehi (then called Dry Creek), organized
at about the same time as American Fork, took up to one-third of the
waters of American Fork Creek by authorization of the legislative assembly
of the territory of Utah.
One of the first
local commercial enterprises was the Arza Adams gristmill; the general
mercantile business of Marx and McKenzie came in 1852. Richard Steele
opened a small glass and crockery store; this was followed by Alexander
Miller, Arza Adams, John Hindley, and William Helley with their own
establishments. Grant's Emporium, as well as Bates's and Boley's also
offered goods. Major business houses included the American Fork Co-Operative
Association, which was sold by shareholders in 1930, and Chipman Mercantile,
which closed in 1979 after celebrating its centennial seven years earlier.
of Columbia Steel Company (later United States Steel and still later Geneva Steel) in Utah County in 1942-43 and the influx of many easterners
assigned to key positions at the plant brought a local residential building
boom, the greatest to that time in the community. The population of
the community increased to 4,500, necessitating a vigorous public-works
program to provide increased utility services.