Adapted from: Huchel, Fredrick M. A History of Box Elder County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1999; “Elwood Town History.” http://www.elwoodtown.com/history.htm. Accessed April 27, 2020; “Elwood History.” http://www.boxeldercounty.org/elwood-history.htm. Accessed April 27, 2020.
The area that became Elwood was initially a squatters territory, belonging to a man by the name of Davidsen. The details of this early history are unclear, as not even Davidsen’s first name is known. By 1879, Davidsen had sold his land. Accounts differ as to whether he sold the land to both Abraham and Allen Hunsaker, or if he sold the land to Abraham Hunsaker, who in turn sold it to Allen Hunsaker. Allen Hunsaker is known in Elwood as the city’s founder. Other settlers came from nearby Bear River City to work the land in the summers, eventually settling permanently in Elwood. As canals in the area were completed, additional settlers came to the area.
Elwood went through several name changes. In 1889, Lorenzo Snow, at that time the stake president of the area, came to the area and remarked on the town’s “fair view.” The church branch in the area took the name Fairview, which was apparently applied to the settlement as well. The same year the town applied for a post office, and it was discovered that there was another town in Utah called Fairview, which could have confused mail delivery. The name Manila was suggested, but there was also another Manila, Utah. The Post office suggested Elwood, and the community agreed, although the ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the area was known as the Manila ward for a year before becoming the Elwood ward, to match the name of the post office.
Elwood encountered some significant challenges with farming, even as it seemed that things were going the settlers’ way. As the settlers were able to bring more land under irrigation and cultivation, they discovered that their irrigation had raised the water table, which had leached alkali from the soil and made the land next to useless for farming. Fortunately for the farmers of Elwood, the Utah State Agricultural College in nearby Logan pioneered the use of tile drains to lower the water table and leach out the alkali. The Elwood drainage district, organized by Elwood farmers, installed miles of underground tiles, which restored the productivity of the land.
Agriculture was the mainstay of Elwood through World War II, though with the arrival of industries such as Thiokol, most residents began to move away from small scale farming and towards working in nearby industries. This was reflected in the town’s schooling system as well, with the Elwood Elementary school closing in 1963. The students were bussed to Tremonton and Bear River City. The population, which had been in steady decline from 648 in 1920, began to grow again in the seventies, and Elwood’s population now stands at a little over 1,000.