By Travis Schiffman Strength, love of learning, deep commitment to education and students, tenacity, perseverance, and an unconquerable spirit are just a few words one might use to describe Snow College, its faculty, staff, students, and alumni who proudly called themselves “Badgers.” There is no coincidence that this caliber of individual is so prevalent at Snow College when you reflect on the College’s past 125 years of excellence and consider the type of people who forged it in its humble beginnings.
Snow College’s Scandinavian Start Although the first white settlers of the Sanpete County area were British and American born, recent converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Scandinavia left the greatest imprint on the area, and this imprint continues to this day. Upon arriving in Salt Lake City, many were directed to various settlements throughout Utah, but most eventually ended up in Sanpete. By 1870, nearly 95 percent of Ephraim’s population was of Scandinavian descent. The early Scandinavian settlers arrived in the Sanpete Valley amidst trouble with the native inhabitants of the area, the Ute Indians. What began as a peaceful relationship soon turned adversarial. To protect themselves, the settlers were forced to build forts, such as the one erected in Ephraim and occupied by Scandinavians during their first few years in the valley. The settlers would face other challenges as well. Even though they were used to a difficult life in the “Old Country,” their lives were already established. Now, as new inhabitants of the Sanpete Valley, they would have to start over, clearing land, digging irrigation canals, building roads and bridges, and erecting homes. While they brought with them few material goods from the old country, they did bring their acquired skills and a propensity for hard work. Within a relatively short period of time, they began working the land and planting crops. Eventually, with the development of an irrigation system, farms flourished throughout the valley.
Sanpete Stake Academy – Snow College in Embryo In 1867, a Norwegian by the name of Canute Peterson moved, along with his family, from Lehi to Ephraim on assignment from the LDS Church as a bishop. Prominent leaders of the church were frequent visitors to the Peterson home, which led to many extensive discussions of the need for a nonpublic school in Ephraim. Canute seized the opportunity to pitch the idea of a higher institution of learning to his captive guests. Just months before the Manti Temple was dedicated (May 17, 1888), local LDS Church members were being urged to prepare themselves to help build an academy. The Ephraim Town Square was proposed as the future site for the academy, land was purchased, and a letter was received from President Wilford Wood20 1 3 | S N OW CO L L EG E M AG A ZI N E