How Much Land Cost Over 150 Years Ago

“Since we planned to build a house on this tract of ground, which we called Sun View, we decided to completely landscape it.”


This article is part of a series on how much homes used to cost back in the day. We’re starting from the ground up with this piece on the cost of land.

The property encompassing Ben Lomond High School passed through a lot of hands over the years. Namely, some North Ogden residents owned parts of it for a time. We’ve traced back all the on-record owners of this property.

First, Union Pacific owned about 80 acres of the land to prepare the way for the railroad in 1883. It cost the company a total of $160 at the time. Then, six years later, after installing the rails, Union Pacific sold the land to a single buyer for $32,000. With a down payment of $17,000 at 8% interest, the property was sold.

That buyer quickly changed his mind; he gave up the land to the county in a quit claim for $1. We can only imagine the personal financial crisis that led to such a decision. Then, in 1898, a man named Carl G. Grandin bought 160 acres of that land for $400, only to sell 16 of those acres to Jacob Larsen for $131.28.

Naturally, Carl got a better deal buying directly from the county than Jacob’s private sale. Perhaps Jacob saw his patch of land as prime real estate at the time, but he also ended up forfeiting his land back to Weber County.

Nephi James Brown was the youngest son of Thomas B. Brown and Eliza White Brown. He had seventeen older brothers and sisters, with both Eliza and Thomas blending children from previous marriages into their family.

Nephi only went to grade school in North Ogden from September 1893 to June 1901 but graduated valedictorian on June 8, 1901. He would have to walk almost a mile to and from school every day. He worked as the Chief Clerk of the Ogden Division of the Utah Power and Light Company from 1914 to 1954. In 1934, he bought 10 acres of that land from the county for $350 at 7% interest. His patch was on the 900 block on the east side of Mountain Road. He and his second wife, Olga Marie Carlson, planted four hardwood shade trees on the southeast corner. This is what he wrote about his plans for the land at the time: “Since we planned to build a house on this tract of ground, which we called Sun View, we decided to completely landscape it, so that they would be well along in growth when we constructed our home.”

By the 40s, Utah Power and Light had transferred Nephi to Salt Lake, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had appointed Olga as a member of the General Primary Board.

An apartment complex caught their eye in Salt Lake City. While they would eventually retire back on their Sun View property, they moved into the complex while renting the rest of the units. In this same year, the Utah Board of Education bought 5.41 acres of land in the area for $10. It would go towards a new high school in the area, now known as Ben Lomond. By 1950, it was evaluated to be worth $15,000. Today, as you might already know, a piece of land that size could cost anywhere between $500,000 to well over $1 million.

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