A History of Elk Ridge
Elk Ridge was built on the 1800 acre Goosenest Ranch nestled against Mount Loafer in the south end of Utah County. The ranch got its name from an area of land in the west end of Elk Ridge known as „The Goosenest”. The geese came to nest in this area for many years. It is a natural basin that had been improved upon to hold water that flowed down from Payson Canyon. However, after strengthening the dam and building a canal that ran from the reservoir to Payson, those early builders were most disappointed because the reservoir would not hold water. The water entered the basin and within a few days would disappear; travel underground and show up in the fields two or three miles to the north. Their beautiful project was a failure. Until recently, Payson still would send the high water down to the Goosenest and it would still disappear. The course it would take has cut a very deep wash through the Goosenest area. It is interesting that the first road to access Payson Canyon was up through this Goosenest area.
The original ranch was a 160 acre parcel homesteaded by James Fayette Shuler. James married Mary Ann Olive Warthen of Council Bluffs, Iowa. After James died in 1923, the land went to Mary Ann. She died in 1936 leaving the ranch to her five children. Dave, the youngest of the children bought out the interests of the other heirs. He later bought other ranches that surrounded his and increased his ranch to a total of 1800 acres. Some of the other ranches purchased were: the Huber Ranch, the Herman Tagge Ranch, the Dave Curtis Ranch, the John Dixon Ranch, the PerryJackman Ranch, and the Joe Barrett Ranch. Dave and Erma Shuler lived in Payson until 1947. They traveled back and forth to take care of the many duties of farming this large dry-land ranch. In 1947 they sold their home in Payson and moved to the ranch so that Dave could be closer to his work. In 1948 Dave's¸ son Hal married Carolyn Davis of Salem and built a small two-room house behind the old ranch house in order to help his father with the huge task of putting up acres and acres of dry-land hay and wheat. Hal graduated from BYU in agronomy and soon became the manager of the ranch. The ranch had miles of fences to build and keep in repair. The amount of damage done to them by the deer and elk during the winter was amazing. There was a large herd of cattle to be fed during the winter and looked after during the summer. Some years the ranch had large herds of pigs, over 100, that would wander the foothills eating last years acorns and eating from the many pig feeders that were stationed at the springs located about three miles from the ranch house. The ranch house itself has an interesting history. The Shuler's were kept busy remodeling and repairing the frame house that was once built and owned by Jesse Knight, a famous man in the early days of Utah County. It had been on Mr. Knight's farm in West Mountain (west of Payson). It was moved to the ranch by Herman Tagge and at that time was the only home at the south end of Utah Valley. Dave and Erma Shuler remodeled the home and added the rock work. It now sits on the west boundary of Elk Ridge and is owned by Hal Shuler.
Dave Shuler died in 1965 and his once famous Goosenest Ranch was divided among his five children and his wife, Erma. His son, Hal, bought a few hundred acres from his father and after the death of his father bought some of the land that was owned by his two sisters. The land owned by his brother Howard was sold to Mr. Jim Winterton of Provo. Mr. Winterton and Dave's son, Keith “Bish”, started the county subdivision of Salem Hills. Roy Broadbent, manager of the First Security bank in Payson, shared the ideas and aspirations of the developers and made it possible for them to proceed with the development of Salem Hills. The original water rights were agricultural farm water rights and in 1970 were transferred into culinary rights to be taken from the underground source of a well. Keith Shuler drilled three wells that provided enough water for the initial development and the county neighborhood of Salem Hills was started. In 1970 a dirt road wound its way up the hillside and the very first homes built were condominiums. The idea and plan was to rent out the condos while homes were being built. Sewer lines were installed, with open ponds located at the area of the present roads of Star LN and Olympic LN, the utilities were buried and parcels of land were sold. The Goosenest Ranch where the deer and the elk had roamed undisturbed and where acres of alfalfa and wheat made a patchwork pattern of this end of the valley was now given way to homes and people. The first home completed in Salem Hills was the Gary and Rhonda Proctor home located at 62 South Clark Lane. They moved here from Aurora, Colorado, into one of the condominiums in 1972. Their home on Clark Lane was finished in June of 1973 and they moved in at that time. The Proctors still live here but over the years have moved to a home located on Highland Circle. In September, 1973, the dirt roads were improved to oil, sprinkled with gravel. Most of the roads were built on existing grades with no road base. Today, we face the problem associated with that method of road construction as we see heavy loads cause failures in certain areas. The first time the snow plow came through, the gravel and oil ended up by the side of the road with the snow. The winter of 1975-76 will be remembered by the twenty families living here as a very severe winter with a great deal of snow. The roads were torn up again and the families were snowed in several times. During the summer of 1976 the main road was asphalted and it was not until 1978 when most of the streets received their asphalt surface. On May 31, 1973, a home owners association was formed to help govern the improvements and growth in the subdivision. When a lot was sold the buyer was assessed $2,000.00 for the water and sewer. Providing water for the residents was a problem from the very beginning. The original pumps did not have an automatic shut off and any time the electrical power went off, someone had to turn the pumps back on manually. During the winter months, residents had to put on snow shoes and hike to the pumps to turn them back on.
The original water tank was installed in 1972 and held 33,000 gallons of water. In 1977, two additional 40,000 gallon tanks were installed in the upper area of Salem Hills. These tanks had been owned by the Fisher Brewery in Salt Lake City and were used to age beer - many jokes were made about the great water the residents now had. In 1982 a 500,000 gallon water tank was built and buried in the south hillside and in 1992 another 500,000 gallon tank was built and buried up on the mountain. All three of the small tanks have been moved and given to other people that have had need for them. The development soon approached the time when it had 100 residents living within its boundaries and according to Utah County rules the development had to incorporate into a city. On December 22, 1976, the Salem Hills development was incorporated into the town of Salem Hills. The first Council members of the newly formed town were: Kenneth Harris, Gary Proctor, Glen Royle, Dale Bigler, and John Peterson. Ken Harris was appointed the Mayor and Zola Hales was appointed the City Recorder. These citizens were appointed for a one-year term by the County Commission. The first regular election was held in 1978. There was much work ahead and many challenges to be addressed. The Council members and other residents spent many hours working on the numerous charters and plans needed for incorporation. A Planning Commission and a Board of Adjustment were organized and members appointed to fill those positions. Ed Knolton was the first Building Inspector and he still lives here in the home he built in the 70's. Contracts were entered into with Utah County for police protection and with Salem and Payson for fire and ambulance service. Because of the confusion with the town of Salem, Salem Hills was changed to Elk Ridge at a special meeting of the town by a vote of the people on June 15, 1978. This name was very appropriate because the elk could still be seen nearly every winter morning and evening as they journeyed from their mountain home wandering through the town to graze in the fields and orchards at the north area of the community. The children attended school in Payson and the bus, in the early days would pick them up at the spot called the “Gravel Pit”, near the three-way stop on Goosenest and Elk Ridge DR. By September 1974, there were 14 children attending school so the bus came up the hill. In 1979 a well was drilled at the north end of Elk Ridge. The well could pump 350 gallons of water per minute and was 950 feet deep. The cost to pump the water to the upper tanks was very expensive so at that time was rarely used. Two other small wells were drilled in Loafer Canyon in 1978 and 1979. In 1993, a new well was drilled in the canyon at the extreme south end of Elk Ridge within the private gated area. It supplies the community with an exceptional amount of water that once brought to the surface has gravity flow to the storage tanks. By the summer of 1980, the population was 381 and there were 99 homes in Elk Ridge. The first youth baseball league was organized that summer. During the summer of 1981, work was started on the seven acre site that was set aside for the city park. This park site was donated by the developers Hal Shuler, Keith Shuler, and Jim Winterton. The baseball diamond was graded by the Utah National Guard Engineering Unit based in Springville. The labor and equipment was donated as a work project and the town paid for the lunch and fuel. Council meetings were held in the homes of the Council members until a city building was completed in 1984. We received a grant from the government to help with the new city building, however; many, many more hours were donated by volunteers to complete the building. Between 1976 and 1981 several changes were made to the City Council. In the November 1981 election, a new slate of officers was elected. The mayor was John Peterson and the Council consisted of Cregg Ingram, Hal Shuler, Wayne Shute, and John Thomas. The new council faced many problems common to a growing city. The most critical problem was sufficient water storage. During the heat of the summer, residents experienced a shortage of water on many occasions. During the peak hourly flow, without the wells pumping, water storage was depleted in one hour. In March 1982, the city applied to the Utah Board of Drinking water and Water Resources for financial assistance in increasing the water storage capacity. The summer of 1987 saw the completion of the pavilion, which was almost, completely, done by the residents of Elk Ridge. We did receive a matching grant from the government to help build the pavilion. In September 1984, the first LDS chapel was completed. On May 28, 1988, the Gladstan Golf Course was opened. Elk Ridge donated land to Payson to help build the golf course. In the fall of 1985, Cable TV was introduced to part of the city. In June of 1988, Elk Ridge and Salem completed their combined new sewer plant. Building of homes was slow, after seventeen years of growth, only 157 had been built by 1989. Between 1984 and 1990 the Fire Department became well organized. Regular training sessions were held and equipment and tools were purchased. Elk Ridge was tied into the emergency “911” phone system. The City Council and Fire Department sponsored a Fourth of July celebration each year. In the beginning, the Scouts would help organize a program and the Saturday morning breakfast was prepared and served by the Fire Department and EMS group. Races, a parade and various sporting activities, as well as, a carnival are a part of the celebration.
In 1990 the Census recorded a population in Elk Ridge of 771 people. By January, 1994 the town had grown to 230 homes. Presently in 2008, we have approximately 550 homes and an estimated population of 2,500 people.