Bushnell and Brigham City

Bushnell patient pass
A pass like this one allowed patients to leave the hospital to visit family in the Brigham City area. The reverse of this pass shows where the patient’s wife lived in Brigham City. The influx of patient family members put a strain on housing in Brigham City. (Click twice on the item to see the reverse.)

Brigham City celebrated when it was chosen over other Utah locations, like Cedar City and Price, for the location of Bushnell General Military Hospital. Previously, Brigham City had resisted having Utah State University built in its borders, letting it go to Logan instead. In this case, however, the residents were convinced of the benefit of welcoming the government institution, especially with the jobs and economic growth it would bring.

Bushnell bus schedule
This card shows the schedule for the Brigham City-Bushnell Hospital bus in September 1943. Patients might take the bus into town on a pass, and many Brigham City residents found employment at the hospital.
Brigham City cab fares
The reverse of the Brigham City-Bushnell Hospital bus schedule shows the cab fares for various locations around Brigham City in September 1943.

Bushnell would have a far-reaching impact on Brigham City, which before World War II was a small, mostly rural community. The city experienced a population boom and housing shortage starting with the construction of the hospital, to the extent that nearly every vacant room in Brigham City was filled with people working at Bushnell or family members of Bushnell patients who wanted to be close to their loved ones. A taxi and bus service connected the city with the hospital which was, at the time, on its southern edge.

Dances and other activities for the soldiers were common in the community, and girls from local colleges were encouraged to attend. People from throughout northern Utah donated supplies and time to help Bushnell. The hospital employed hundreds of civilians from Brigham City and other parts of Utah while the soldiers stationed at Bushnell or recovering there as patients flooded the city, bolstering local business.

Bushnell also exposed the people of Brigham City to people they would not have met otherwise from a variety of ethnicities, disabilities, and faith traditions. Lifelong friendships formed between locals and families who lived all over the country. In addition, many couples met while working or recovering at Bushnell, and some settled in Brigham City.

A Bushnell patient with his wife and child
A Bushnell patient with his wife and infant son found lodging in Brigham City. Almost every home in the town had extra boarders due to a severe housing shortage brought on by the influx of families coming to be near loved ones in the hospital.

In a show of gratitude to the city for its hospitality during the war years, Colonel Robert M. Hardaway, the commander of Bushnell for most of its operation, later endowed a scholarship at Box Elder High School, named after his son, Tom, who had attended the school and was killed in the Korean War.

Sources for this Page

Andrea Kaye Carter, “Bushnell General Military Hospital And The Community of Brigham City, Utah During World War II” (2008). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 162. https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/etd/162.
Frederick M. Huchel, A History of Box Elder County (Box Elder County, UT: Utah State Historical Society and Box Elder County Commission, 1999), https://collections.lib.utah.edu/details?id=423122.
Allan Kent Powell, “Utah and World War II,” Utah Historical Quarterly 73, no. 2 (2005): 108-131.
Allan Kent Powell, ed., Utah Remembers World War II (Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1991).
“The Brigham City War Veterans’ Oral Histories Collection, 2003-2005,” Utah State Historical Society.