Skip to content

Snow College Marks 120 Years of History

October 31, 2008


Contact: Greg Dart
Snow College School Relations

EPHRAIM - From 1875 to 1911, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was responsible for the creation of 22 academies of higher learning. Today, only six of those remain.

And Snow College is one. It’s also the oldest two-year college west of the Mississippi River.

“We have a lot of tradition here,” said Snow College President Scott Wyatt. “120 years is something to be celebrated.”

Founded as Sanpete Stake Academy, the first classes were held Nov. 5, 1888, in the Ephraim Co-op, a building located on Main St. at the corner of what is now College Ave. In years since, Nov. 5 has been observed as “Founder’s Day,” when the ideals and history of Snow College are celebrated.

Snow has grown from that one-room schoolhouse to Central Utah’s largest institution of learning, spanning two counties and serving about 4,000 students annually/

Beginning Monday, Snow College will be celebrating its 120th birthday, culminating the annual “Founder’s Day” tradition with music, art displays and alumni-sponsored activities.

The festivities will begin with a “birthday party” at the bell tower on Monday. Students are encouraged to wear school colors in honor of the occasion.

The fact that Snow College has survived this long is significant. A Sanpete history book remarks the irony at how “a town as small as Ephraim should have supported any college at all for [over] a full century strikes…as an amazing feat.”

The school was strapped for funds in its early days-so poor, in fact, that members of the LDS Church were called on volunteer “missions” to be teachers and money for the Noyes Building (built over a period of 10 years) was raised by the sale of eggs and other goods. One year, the school had to sell its only piano - a prized possession which had been recently obtained - the make ends meet.

In 1932, the LDS Church was prepared to drop the school altogether. Was it not for P.C. Peterson, a Utah legislator-who bribed his fellow congressmen with lamb legs to encourage them to vote for state takeover of Snow College-it would never have continued as an institution of higher learning. The measure in the Utah legislature succeeded by only one vote.

Despite these successive close-calls of school closure, Snow College has survived for over a century and continues to be a stronghold of education and a local economic boon.

On Friday all of Snow College’s major ensembles will be performing in the Jorgensen Concert Hall in the Eccles Center for Performing Arts starting at 7:30 p.m. Groups like the Snow Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble I, A Capella Choir and Cadence will be topped-off by a guest performance from “The Phat Old Professors.”

The concert is in commemoration of the academic ideals of the college’s founders, Lorenzo and Erastus Snow. It will also pay tribute to the two newest inductees into the Horne School of Music Hall of Fame: Judy Morgan and Carl Allen, both who have contributed significant time to Snow College’s fine arts program.

Wyatt will make a formal announcement during the concert detailing a noteworthy donation to Snow College.