Bushnell Army Hospital was built specifically to treat US soldiers during World War II, whose injuries required amputation of limbs. From 1942 to 1946, doctors, nurses
, military personnel, wounded patients, and their families arrived in Brigham City to work at Bushnell. The first patient was admitted on 10 October 1942; the last discharged 22 June 1946. At its peak, the hospital was a community of some 6,000 inhabitants, including patients, assigned military personnel, and civilian employees.
The buildings were all connected by ramp ways for wheelchair access, including ramps between the first and second floors. Both steam heating pipes and electrical power lines ran under the ramps and the grounds were meticulously kept by German POWs.
After the war ended, the hospital was no longer needed. After its closure, the buildings sat empty for a short period while the city decided what should be done with the land. In 1948, Brigham City received a proposal to convert the barracks- style housing into a school to teach Navajo Indians and the plan was accepted. President Harry Truman signed the bill allocating the money and authorizing the school’s construction in May 1949. The land was then donated by the city to the Federal government. The former Bushnell Hospital was converted into the campus of Intermountain Indian School, where Navajo children, bused from Arizona, attended elementary through high school.
On June 4, 1949, the newly-hired superintendent and a few assistants began work. By January 1950, 542 students were accepted at the federally-run school. In 1954, twenty-four students graduated from high school, and by 1955 that number jumped to 188. By 1981, 5,319 students had graduated from IIS. The school even boasted its own medical facility and printing press.
Despite its success as a Navajo boarding school, Navajo enrollment dropped in the early 70s, so the school began accepting Native American students from other tribes. During the 1974-75 school year its name was changed to Intermountain Inter-Tribal School, teaching students from nearly 100 tribes.
After the school closed in 1984, city officials submitted a master plan to get the 17 acres along U.S. Hwy 91 back from the federal government. The agreement deeded the site to the city, with the understanding that the land remain open space and not be used for anything other than recreation.
Brigham City developed much of the open land into Eagle Mountain Golf Course, then sold the rest to fund the course’s construction. The former dormitories have been turned into townhouses called “Eagle Village.” Various churches and businesses have been housed at the former Intermountain Indian School site. Many of the buildings stood vacant for several decades, but in early 2013 most of these buildings were demolished to build the Brigham City campus of Utah State University.
The letter “I” representing Intermountain Indian School, is still visible on the mountainside adjacent to Sardine Canyon. For over 20 years, former its students held an annual reunion the third week of July at Wheatfields Lake near Navajo, New Mexico.
Source: Wikipedia 2021 Brigham City, UT, Intermountain Indian School; bcutah.org 2021