Home Abandoned Brigham City Indian School

Brigham City Indian School

by Jennifer Jones
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Since the Intermountain Indian School, better known as the Brigham City Indian School closed it’s doors on May 17th, 1984 rumors quickly spread about it’s supposed haunted past.  As urban legends are apt to do the longer the buildings sat empty, the bigger and more fanciful the legend grew.

Brigham City Indian School

Brigham City Indian School - The Dead History

The buildings quickly took on a life of their own and every paranormal team and ghost chaser had it on the top of their list of places to investigate.  Like the Old Mill and Pioneer Village in Lagoon, this was one place that was always kept off limits.  The only people that got in there did so illegally.  So what is the truth behind the old school?

Before the site was the Intermountain Indian School, it was Bushnell General Army Hospital.

Construction began in May 1942 and it officially accepted it’s first patient, James Davis, on 10 Oct 1943.  At the time, Bushnell was the 5th largest military hospital in the world, with the capacity to hold 2000 patients.  It specialized in amputations (treatment & rehab), treatment of malaria, neurology / neurosurgery, and psychology.  It was one of the first places to experiment with the use of penicillin, plastic prosthetics,  and had state of the art x-ray capabilities.

Brigham City Indian School - The Dead History

Photos Courtesy of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

Brigham City Indian School - The Dead History

Photos Courtesy of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

In the four years that it was a functioning hospital, over 13,000 patients were treated. I’ve combed through every single death certificate in Box Elder County from 1942-1946 and found that 93 people died there, or were brought there immediately after their death.  Most of those that perished here died due to disease or injuries that occurred during combat. A very small percentage committed suicide. Overall, the death rate for the hospital was less than 1%.  This truly was an amazing facility, with state of the art treatments available to treat very difficult maladies.

Foreign POWs and celebrities….

Bushnell was also home to quite a few POWs.  Both German and Italian Prisoners of War were kept here and performed a variety of jobs at the hospital.  The ones who died while being held at Bushnell were buried at Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City.

Because the hospital was so prominent, it also attracted a lot of attention from celebrities and other well-known people.  Just a few of the famous people who visited the hospital were: Helen Keller, Harry S Truman (prior to becoming president), Nat King Cole (who performed for the patients in the psychiatric ward), Clark Gable, Bob Hope, Shirley Temple, and many others.  Bob Hope and Bing Crosby actually put together a fundraising concert in Salt Lake City to raise money for a golf course at Bushnell, but unfortunately, the hospital was closed before the golf course became a reality.

Brigham City Indian School - The Dead History

After the war, Bushnell fell out of favor with the Army…

This was mainly due to it being “classified as semi-permanent because it was constructed with wooden floors and frames. It is not located in a densely populated area and if the total army hospital load decreases as anticipated, its retention would require diversion of patients from other hospitals located in the proximity of their homes. In addition to a few other specialties, the hospital has been employed as an amputation center. However, the majority of army amputees are rapidly approaching the point where they will have received maximum hospitalization and will be ready to return to civilian life.”  By June of 1946 the Army declared the hospital as surplus and by July of 1949 control of the property was transferred to the Department of the Interior.

By 1950, the buildings had undergone a $3 million renovation and the Intermountain Indian School was formed.  At first, the school only had 542 students, but it quickly reached it’s capacity of 2,150 students, often being over capacity by 150 or so.  The children would live at the school for a good part of the year, but would return home during the summer.  It functioned as a typical high school but also had vocational training in a variety of skills.  All the articles and papers I’ve read while studying these buildings had nothing but good things to say about the school. From all accounts, it was very successful in that it had a high graduation rate.  Other than a minor riot in 1975 which resulted in 3 police officers being injured, I could find no traumatic events or deaths at the location while it was a school.

Brigham City Indian School - The Dead History

Brigham City Indian School - The Dead History

The Brigham City Indian School was in use until 1984 when it closed and the buildings sat abandoned until 2013.  Shortly after writing this article all buildings that had not been converted for other uses were demolished.  I was given the opportunity to walk through the buildings and was amazed by how intact they were, although a lot of the buildings were falling apart.

Urban legends and spooky stories….

In the 29 years that the buildings sat empty urban legends and stories about paranormal activity began to spread. While it would not surprise me if the Brigham City Indian School was haunted because of it being a hospital in the past, I don’t believe that should be what the location is remembered for. The truth is that this was an amazing historical site that was incredibly important to not only Brigham City and Utah but to the entire country during WWII and during its use as a school.

This is my favorite then / now picture.

Brigham City Indian School - The Dead History

Update: 5/22/2016 I’ve added a bunch of pictures I took before they tore the buildings down. Enjoy!

 

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80 comments

Robert Boyce June 28, 2013 - 7:54 am

Thanks for the article! My grandfather, George A. Boyce, was the superintendent there from 1950 to 1961. That's him in the cowboy hat in the photo marked 1949.

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mer May 25, 2016 - 3:28 pm

That’s awesome

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Cheryl Merrell September 4, 2013 - 4:20 pm

Does anyone know about a reform school for wayward boys that was on the Indian School campus in 1960-3? I remember visiting my brother there when he was made an award of the state of Utah and placed there because of bad behavior?

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Gyrlsmylee July 7, 2014 - 3:13 pm

It could be called Moweeta or Moweeda or Moweepa. I am not sure of the spelling.

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Rich May 15, 2016 - 8:00 pm

Moweda was an acronym name for Morgan Weber Davis providing juvenile services for those 3 counties.

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mer May 25, 2016 - 3:29 pm

Moweda and that was in Roy bit looked the same just small,

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Dodie Larsen August 9, 2016 - 10:00 am

Moweda

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orevhil January 3, 2015 - 8:23 pm

My dad told me stories about going to school here; and the ghosts he would hear in the dorm hallways and it three days to get there from New Mexico

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Jennifer January 3, 2015 - 8:27 pm

@orevhil I would love to hear some of the stories! I didn't realize they bused in the kids from as far away as New Mexico.

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Elle August 25, 2018 - 6:36 pm

Jennifer – I think it would be prudent to interview people who actually attended the school. Your description seems to be a very watered down version of actual experiences.

There are countless stories of kids and teens from across the nation who were forced to attend schools far from family, in an attempt to “educate and immerse” them in “white American” culture. The tactics used included corporal punishment for use of native language, tradition, holidays, and many other types of brutal, abusive punishment for school infractions.

While you’re looking into it, be sure to inquire about “The Lost Ones.” These are students who never came home from Indian School, including the one located in Brigham City.

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Jennifer Jones August 25, 2018 - 6:59 pm

Hi Elle, thank you for your comment. I see that you presupposed that I am not fully aware of the losses faced by Native Americans from boarding schools. This is an article about the school/hospital’s spooky history and the urban legends connected to it. Furthermore, I have been in contact with those who attended the school and was invited to their annual reunion before it was discontinued in Brigham City a couple of years ago. If people want to read about the history of Native American boarding schools in the United States there are much better websites they can find to read about it.

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Bob Burnham July 16, 2015 - 8:56 am

The indian police academy was also stationed there for some time.

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Squibbley July 16, 2015 - 10:52 am

My great-grandpa worked there! And when I was a kid (after the school had closed) we played indoor soccer in one of the buildings. Fun times.

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Fatima Sandoval July 16, 2015 - 2:57 pm

Wow I grew up in brigham city I never new the story til now thanks

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Tara Bennett July 16, 2015 - 2:58 pm

2 of my uncles would be bussed in from Zuni the hated the drive but made the best out of it

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Tara Bennett July 16, 2015 - 3:01 pm

My grams and gramps both worked there for over 20yrs. My grams (Navajo / Zuni ) was in the placement program growing up n lived with a family here in brigham. Then got a job in the recreational dept… she has thousands of photos n letters from the students. We were just going through them the other day. They all love her so much….

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Carolyn August 9, 2016 - 11:17 am

Do any of the pictures you have, have names on them my spouse qent to school there i think 1950- to maybe mid. 60’s his name is Tom Singer.

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Marilyn begay August 12, 2016 - 6:39 am

Do they have pics of 1946 plus? My mom and dad went there at ages 12 to 18.

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Warren N Debbie Brantner July 16, 2015 - 3:24 pm

Moweda or however it is spelled no longer exists but it was never at the Indian school. It was a juvenile detention center. As a kid my parents warned us if we weren't good they would send us there. Never been inside just drove by many times. It was located in Ogden area pretty close to the Harrisville Walmart. There's some sort of campus there now.

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Kim Edwards July 16, 2015 - 7:17 pm

Its Moweda. A juvenile detention center located in Weber county, used by Morgan, Weber, and Davis Counties.

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Della Miller May 25, 2016 - 3:21 am

It’s located in Roy city

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Tresa Enright July 17, 2015 - 6:35 am

I worked for a company that remodeled several of the buildings into condos. It was quite the process. They had to go in and remove asbestos first. The are very unique condos and are now owned by current residents.

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Lori Roach July 17, 2015 - 12:41 pm

The state school for boys was on north st, just north of the harrisville Walmart. It's now the WATC campus. Moweda was in the southern part of weber county in sunset, I believe. It's possible that the land was haunted long before the buildings were built. There is a rich history of native Americans living in the area for hundreds of years.

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Elaine Roberts July 17, 2015 - 4:48 pm

My father taught body and fender repair at Intermountain Indian School for 30 yrs.

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Aubree Homer July 17, 2015 - 8:30 pm

sorry this is actually AuBree's mother Melanie

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Aubree Homer July 17, 2015 - 8:36 pm

moweeda or however it was spelled was not at the Indian school in Brigham, rather it was in Ogden where the Ogden Weber Applied Technology Center is now

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mer May 25, 2016 - 3:32 pm

That place is called archway and it’s east of the WATC bit same Brick

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Aubree Homer July 17, 2015 - 8:52 pm

I may have been mistaken on where moweda actually was but I do know it was not in Brigham. The state school for boys I believe was at the A.T.C. just not sure if the two was one in the same

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A. Lee Crawford July 19, 2015 - 6:42 am

I can't really see that being used as much of an indigenous camp. There isn't a water source nearby that a nomadic people could make use of, so I doubt it was heavily used. There are much better sites around. Personally, I think it's more likely that the visitors wanted to be scared, so they encountered scary sounds and apparitions. Your brain can do that to you. Incidentally, folklorists call the practice of going to allegedly haunted locations “legend tripping.”

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alaskan coy July 19, 2015 - 12:41 pm

I grew up in Brigham and was just thinking about this school yesterday, wondering why we didn't interact more. Thanks for sharing

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treesmom August 6, 2015 - 9:22 pm

Lee Crawford your name sounds familiar. People have see full apparitions there. There was a private school there in the 90s the saw men in uniform from the 1940s.

THIS IS A WONDERFUL article. Some of the histories fron union station in Ogden said that some of these patients that went to Bushnell we actualy chained to the floor.
Moweeda was in roy I believe.

The Indian school had a detention center for the students that went there. I know there were deaths from fights and alcohol poisoning.

They will not be tearing all the original buildings down, some have been repurposed as housing, condos and elderly housing and an apartment building. Some of the original vocation building have businesses in them.

When I was in high school it was rumored that devil worshipers and an underground lair.
I wonder if they are going to change the I on the mountain?

I don’t believe the spirits will go just because the buildings do. My views of spirits are somewhat different than others.

Great article.

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Shawn December 4, 2017 - 9:59 am

The rumor of devil worshipers are true. We had police officers tell us stories about what they found and the experiences they had there. They were not fans of having to go into the buildings.

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Sherron King August 7, 2015 - 1:23 am

My mother worked at the Bushnell I remember her telling me stories about the prisoners.

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Littleace August 7, 2015 - 11:48 pm

I lived in Brigham most of my childhood life. When I was really young I went into one of the living quarters buildings with my mom and brother. We had to climb up a 2X8 board to get in through a broken window. In the room there was a pentagram in what looked like blood and a dead dog in the corner. We walked around for a little while and then we heard voices and decided to leave. So I can personally say that yes devil worship was going on in some of the buildings. I also used to Rollerblade at the skating rink that was owned by the Aire family right behind the old Kmart. I personally have experienced paranormal activity in the buildings that were once in place there. They had a tunnel system set up when it was a hospital that connected each building together. I was told that they transported the patients from place to place through out WWII.

By the way moweeda was located just off of 12th Street in Ogden. I know because I had a few friends that got sent there by their parents for being really bad and having drugs in their house.

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treesmom September 14, 2015 - 5:03 pm

Little lace. Just off of 12 th street is called Mill creek. It has been in uuse for over 20 years. Moweeda was in Roy/Saracuse area.
The ATC by Harrisville Walmart was a Detention Center from the time my father was a boy in the 1940s through the time I was a young girl in the 70’s.
My father and both my grandmother’s wrote that boys would escape and come begging for food at their homes.

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lena October 19, 2015 - 12:59 pm

Doing research of Intermountain Indian school; I knew a House Mother named Mrs. Lincoln, at one of the girl’s dormitory in about 1952-1953. She had a daughter. I do not know the daughter’s name. I would like to contact her to tell her I knew her mother and how great her mother was to the girls she cared for at her dormitory.

I’m interested in any information or photos that anyone might be willing to share for my research. Thank you.

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ben January 4, 2016 - 8:31 am

Everything written about ghost stories at Intermountain Indian school (IMS)is false. When the door closed in 1984, there was no evil drawings left on walls, buildings, etc. These were done by stupid white kids who broke into buildings. We as Native american has much respect for this school because this was where we were educated and served as our second home. The staff were loving and caring. They taught us well. We love IMS .

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Kb May 24, 2016 - 10:57 pm

Do you know why the school had to close its doors?

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Shawn December 4, 2017 - 10:07 am

The ghost stories and experiences people had there were not false and how exactly do you know all the people who ever broke in there and the destruction that was done was carried out “by stupid white kids”? I would be very curious Ben how you came by this concrete information.

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BENNY BAHE January 11, 2018 - 3:26 pm

I WAS A STUDENT THERE FROM 1970 TO 1976. WHEN I GRADUATED EVERYTHING WAS INTACT. IT HAS TO BE WHITE KIDS AND OTHERS WHITE THAT DEFACED THE BUILDINGS. AS LONG AS I WAS THERE I NEVER EXPERIENCED ANY PARANORMAL AND ETC. BELIEVE ME, WE THE DINE’ STUDENTS LOVED THIS SCHOOL. WE HAVE MUCH RESPECT FOR THE STAFF AND BUILDINGS. WE WOULD NEVER MAKE UP ANY SUCH BAD STORIES ABOUT THE SCHOOL. WHO ELSE COULD IT BE THAT VANDALIZED THE BUILDINGS? ALL THE NATIVE AMERICANS WERE GONE BY 1984 WHEN SCHOOL CLOSED. SO IT LEAVES ONLY YOU SHAWN AND YOUR WHITE PEOPLE.

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l mason January 15, 2016 - 3:44 pm

I grew up at intermountain and lived there many years then. Worked for maintenace. There i eas almost in every square inch of the buildings. And never saw any ghosts. Mason

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Christy February 26, 2016 - 10:59 pm

I love hearing and reading about the past. I just wish instead of tearing it down why not turn it into a museum. Tell about the building and about Brigham City.

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Jenn February 28, 2016 - 9:27 pm

I wish they could have, but it was so incredibly damaged from sitting empty for so long. Utah State was supposed to save one building for a museum, but if they did I haven’t heard of it being open yet.

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Miguel May 25, 2016 - 6:29 pm

Jenn – One building still stands and is designated to eventually become a museum.
But don’t hold your breath… they were also supposed to develop soccer fields.

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Jenn May 25, 2016 - 8:56 pm

I’m hoping! They told us when they allowed us to go in they were saving one small building for a museum. I’ve seen a small building still standing. They also said they saved a mural done by a well known Native American artist that was inside the school for display when the museum was done. Hopefully one day!

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2liz4 August 10, 2016 - 9:32 am

There is one buildng that remains that will host as a museum. The others that remain have been repurposed as businesses or homes for residents of Brigham City.

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Denise Celaya September 21, 2016 - 8:51 am

Isn’t a portion of it an Antique store? Is that gone too?

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Jenn September 21, 2016 - 6:13 pm

No, it’s still there and has great stuff. Was just there the other day! 🙂

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armygirlvet February 29, 2016 - 11:32 am

It is not torn down. Many of the buildings have businesses operating in them while other buildings have been converted into apartments.

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Jenn February 29, 2016 - 11:34 am

Correct, but 90% of the original structures are gone.

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Barkmark February 29, 2016 - 10:36 pm

I just looked up the location to where Moweda was. It was located in Roy. Thanks for this article and all the comments after. So interesting. I’ve driven past this place hundreds of times and always wondered about the history. Would love to know more. I have also shopped in one of the buildings. Great antique shop.

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Mylena April 23, 2016 - 12:30 am

Just a question for anyone who can help.
I came across & recieved the original blueprints of the entire indian school grounds. Its a very thick folder what holds how all the buildings on the property were going to be built. Even how the garages were to be built. And also how the insides look. My great grand father was actually the main contractor on the job. It even includes pictures of after building them. I was wondering if this was worth anything. And if no one had a clue then maybe help me to find someone who would know.
If you can and are serious and interested then can you please give me a text or call at
385-383-4037.
I would greatly appreciate it.

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Mp May 20, 2016 - 9:43 pm

I would check with the store that is in one of the old buildings. It’s called the room loft. It’s a furniture store but they have an antique section and they may be interested in that information.

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Leslie May 24, 2016 - 8:49 pm

You might want to contact the director of the Brigham City Museum Gallery. Sharp gal, and I’ll bet she could help you.

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Andrew Schenavar June 30, 2016 - 12:05 pm

Scanning this paperwork and making it freely avaliable to download would help to preserve the memory of the hospital/school, and the legacy of your great grandfather.

Just an idea.

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unknown May 23, 2016 - 12:00 am

My husband’s grandpa was a chiropractor that would visit the Indian school on a regular basis. Alot of the times he was paid in jewelry,my husband has a couple of the rings that were handed down to him.

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BENNY BAHE January 11, 2018 - 3:29 pm

LMAO…ALL MEDICAL EXPENSES WERE PAID BY US GOVERNMENT.

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Mishelle Zito May 23, 2016 - 6:42 am

In the 1990’s there was some satanic ritualistic gatherings that were in full function in a few of these abandoned buildings. I believe that most of them have since been torn down.

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john May 25, 2016 - 4:41 pm

i would like to view those pics. i am a former student there.

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Gypsy May 25, 2016 - 9:00 pm

When I was a child from idaho my grandpa was a bus driver that went to Arizona to bus the students in. He always enjoyed the trip, and I always got candy from, big rock candy mountain. Thanks for the article and memories.

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Dominique castellon August 9, 2016 - 8:31 pm

I have these on video, we filmed our version of “grease” as kids at the bldgs. Lived in Brigham Heights growing up for years. Amazing article.

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Susan August 10, 2016 - 9:28 am

I remember my mom telling me that she work there to help the nurses and doctors when it was a hospital and I grew up knowing it as the Indian School and going to school with some of the kids whose parents work there

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margaret August 11, 2016 - 4:05 pm

I graduated from Intermountain Indian School in 1966. Thanks for the memories.

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Melissa Tapia August 11, 2016 - 4:15 pm

I remember my grandma working there. I love the article.

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Eliza August 12, 2016 - 2:25 pm

For those that went to school there, was it manditory or choice for you to attend?

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Debbie May 25, 2017 - 11:00 pm

It was a choice for me, I traveled first by plane then later by bus from Washington state. I had attended school there from 1977-1980.

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Karla Nosie May 14, 2017 - 6:40 pm

I hv a fren that went to sch there,until it close, he ended up graduating at Phoenix Ind Sch, class of 1985,he says he was one of the top Cross Country runner! He’s hoping sm one will read this messg n share sm pic fr 1982,83 & 84,, name is Clement Ortiz, thank you kindly for taken t time to read this messg,,you can find me on Facebook Karla Nosie,,,

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Melannie Chee May 23, 2017 - 11:38 am

My grandpa is ethe Native American artist that painted the mural. Ive heard the mural was torn down. Is this true? Or is it being preserved somewhere?

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Jennifer Jones May 23, 2017 - 3:46 pm

When we were there while they were demolishing the buildings we were told a large mural was going to be preserved. I haven’t heard what happened to it since then. Utah State University should know.

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Violet May 24, 2017 - 12:30 am

Drove by here on way to SLC. Always looked forboding to me. After closure of the Indian school it took on a really creepiness about it!

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Lee May 24, 2017 - 11:46 pm

Actually Moweda is still in existence it has been called Weber Valley Detention for some time. I would like to know what happened to the information about the abuse that took place here. It may have done good things but it was also home to horrific problems from what I have heard

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Debbie May 25, 2017 - 11:04 pm

There was students from back east as well as southern and northern tribes, we came from all over the place.

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Shawn May 30, 2017 - 9:51 am

Went through those old buildings several times with between six to nine people and had several interesting experiences. Between it and The Baron Woolen Mills we had some good times and crazy experiences that will last a lifetime. In sorry that they both are gone. My family and I will be camping/ghost hunting at the old Dove Creek Camp this summer. It should be fun.

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Tracy Norr May 30, 2017 - 1:07 pm

I remember going there to watch my high school team get beat in basketball (haha). It was probably in the 74/75 school year. We were warned to stay with our group and we were watched closely walking from the bus to the building as it was “dangerous.” Must have been when the riot happened! Years later I worked for Brigham City when they took ownership of the property and built the golf course.

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Matt May 30, 2017 - 11:03 pm

My mother peggy worked there in its final years teaching art and still has lots of pictures and student art if any past students or staff would lile to contact her i could get you her email

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Betsy December 3, 2017 - 11:50 pm

I was going through some of my deceased aunt’s things today and found a button from the school with the name and 1953 on it. A student must have given it to her as she never worked or went to school there. She taught at St Michael’s School near Window Rock, AZ for many decades. Nice article!

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Kathy Clark May 28, 2018 - 5:43 pm

I went to this property today. My biological father attended the school in the late 1950s. His name was Joe (James) Billy. If anyone knew him or his family, I’d love to hear from you.

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Iris Oosh Campbell class of 82 July 1, 2018 - 5:52 pm

I went to school at Inter-Mtn from 1979 to 1982, it was by choice, I enjoyed attending inter mountain as I met many friends from all over the United States as well as had opportunities I would never had experienced if I hadn’t attended. It wasn’t haunted , at least I never had any scary experiences. It closed due to budget reforms in the BIA department.

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Ellen November 8, 2018 - 2:22 pm

Did you have a classmate named Aldean. He played a lot of sports and seems to have enjoyed being at the school. The was a great huge eagle on the side of the gymnasium, so you remember this and does anybody have a picture of it by any chance? Can you tell me something unique and interesting about the school or going there? How enjoyable was the inter-tribal experience from attending school with other students from such a range of tribes and backgrounds? What might be the top 2 best things about the school and was there any negative about being there. It sounds like the children were treated very well, much better than the horror stories of some of the other Indian schools, am I correct?

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Ellen November 8, 2018 - 2:15 pm

Did you have a classmate named Aldean? He seems to have loved being at the school and played a lot of sports there. There was a great huge Eagle on the side of the gymnasium – do you know anything about this, or possibly have a picture of it?
About how many students were in your class. Can you tell me anything really interesting about attending the school and how it was with the rich inter-tribal interactions?

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