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Bear River Opera House

Bear River, Utah

Bear River City incorporated on 1 March 1886.   Its first mayor, Carl Jensen, also served as the bishop of the LDS ward for the area.   A church house was built in Bear River in1899, followed by an Opera House and Amusement Hall in 1904.   The wood frame structure was equipped for theatricals, dances, and other amusements at a cost of $6,000.[1, 2]

While cleaning the hall for a dance on 15 February 1913, a janitor tried to hurry a smoldering fire in the stove.  Flames leaped out of the open stove door and ignited scenery on the stage.  Once the fire started, the opera house “burned like tinder.”  “. . . the place was in roaring flames almost before the astonished janitor could realize what had happened.  As it was he had to hustle to get out and then the crowd that assembled was compelled to stand helplessly by and watch their splendid hall crumble to ashes.”   The town had no water works and a bucket brigade was “wholly ineffectual.”  Only the rock foundation remained.  The building was insured for only $2,250.[2]

A larger recreation center replaced the opera house and was still standing in 2007.[1]


1. “Opera House Consumed by Fire”, Box Elder News, 20 February 1913
2. “Bear River City”, boxeldercounty.org, copywrite 2007 – 2012, retrieved December 2012