Hooper is a town divided. The unusual Wasatch Front community is in the extreme southwest portion of Weber County and the extreme northwest corner of Davis County.
In fact, Hooper (correctly pronounced "Huhp-er" by residents and incorrectly called "Who-per" by those unfamiliar with it) seems to be the only Wasatch Front town truly severed by a county line . . . unless of course you count Draper's as-yet-unpopulated Traverse Ridge annexation that overlaps into Utah County. Hooper is unincorporated, and that's one reason it can exist, in a way, as a two-county entity.Residents of the rural town have watched it grow substantially in recent years, and sometimes shake their heads over the confusion that arises from the boundary line, which complicates addresses, taxes and election balloting, among other things.
Some Hooper history books erroneously state that part of the town was added to Davis County in 1877. There are also corresponding folk stories told by some veteran Hooper residents that explain that the Davis County line was deliberately moved north about a mile that year to separate some undesirable residents from the rest of the town for religious reasons.
But actually the government of the Territory of Utah moved the Davis-Weber line northward 22 years earlier, probably as a way to give five-year-old Davis County more land because it was then - by far - the proposed state's smallest county.
Since one-year-old Hooper had only enough residents to count on one hand in 1855, probably no one thought to consider that the new county boundary was dividing a town.
(Ironically, this boundary change, considered minor at the time, would also be destined to affect the ultimate size of other area towns that didn't exist then, but would be in its path, such as Riverdale and Roy in Weber County, and Sunset, Clinton and West Point on the Davis side.)
The boundary between the Davis-Weber counties has been the same ever since: the center of the Weber River to about Fourth East (Washington Boulevard) in Ogden (or north of the northwest corner of Kingston's Fort in 1855 terms) and then making a beeline for the Great Salt Lake.
The likely reason for the 1877 Hooper/ county division legends are that, coincidentally enough, that was the same year two LDS Wards were created in Hooper - the Hooper Ward (Weber County side) in May 1877 and the South Hooper Ward (Davis side) in June. Some historians probably confused ward boundaries with county ones.
Despite the reason behind the original county split in Hooper, the effects are still felt by the town today.
-Davis County takes up a chunk of land about a mile wide and 2.5 miles long that accounts for about 30 percent of Hooper.
-ALL Hooper residents - even those in Davis County - attend Weber County schools: Hooper or Country View elementaries, Roy's Sandridge Junior High School and Roy High School. (This despite all of their parents paying their taxes in Davis County.) Weber County buses must cross as many as several miles over the county line to pick up the Davis County Hooper students.
-One lifelong Hooper resident, Carl G. Fowers, 63 (whose Davis County residence is almost on the county line), really felt the effects of the town's county boundary split this past fall when neither Davis or Weber county initially wanted to take him as a registered voter. Both gladly offered to take his tax money, but it took a real struggle before Davis County finally took his vote, since that's where he pays taxes and where he had always voted before.
-Fowers was also the catalyst for a 1978 attempt to annex the 3,000-acre portion of Hooper in Davis County, nicknamed "Lapland," into Weber County. However, the annexation was unanimously rejected by Davis County mayors, although Weber County officials favored the idea.
(Davis officials seemed fearful that the town of South Weber would desire a similar annexation procedure from Davis into Weber County if Hooper were allowed to set the precedent.)
"We're worried that someday they may say that our kids have to go to Davis County schools," Fowers said, echoing a fear that many Lapland residents seem to have because they have so many friends and associations on the Weber County side of Hooper.
Davis County Hooper residents are also worried that incorporated towns like West Point may someday annex them into their city without their consent.
"We do a majority of our business in Weber County," Fowers said. "When election times come we don't always know the candidates . . . we often get the feeling we're left out here in Davis County."
Fowers stressed that Hooper is otherwise a good hometown community, with friendly people who are really no different than those in other nearby towns, such as West Point or Clinton.
Frances P. Russell, 98, is Hooper's oldest and longest resident. She's lived there for 91 years and is considered by some to be the town's matriarch.
Russell said she's watched Hooper grow from only several hundred people to almost 5,000. She lives on the Weber side of the town and said she's always felt bad that Hooper was split by a county line, but believes the residents are some of the world's friendliest people.
-The Davis-Weber split of Hooper causes other quirks too. For example:
-Addresses can be really confusing in South Hooper, since they change drastically at the county line. For example, the Fowers' house sits on 50th West in Davis County. But a neighbor, H. Lisle Parker, lives just 150 yards up the street in Weber County and is thus on 59th West.
Fowers said this address difference has caused a lot of confusion for his family over the years, so they have to specify that their address is a Davis County one when ordering mail-delivered items.
-Hooper can also be difficult to find on many maps. The official 1988 Utah state highway map lists Hooper on its index, but the town was somehow left OFF of the full state map itself. This type of treatment is not unusual because Hooper has also been omitted from several other independent highway maps in recent years.
For the record, directly west of Hooper are Ogden Bay, the Great Salt Lake and Fremont Island. To the north are Kanesville and West Warren, to the east is Roy (which is already annexing portions of eastern Hooper), and to the south are the Howard Slough water fowl area, Clinton and West Point.
-The size of Hooper's population is anyone's guess because the community is not incorporated and is split between the two counties.
For instance, the Davis County Planning Commission keeps no specific breakdown on the number of residents in the Hooper portion of Davis County. (In fact, the initial response when asking for Hooper population figures from Davis County is "But Hooper's in Weber County!").
The Weber County Planning Commission made some estimates on Hooper's population (in relation to boundaries proposed by a 1985 town incorporation vote that failed by a 2-1 margin), and the 1988 projection was 3,572 residents.
This population estimate alone would likely make Hooper the state's 59th largest town, out of the 450-plus listed on Utah's highway map. But add a guess of 500 more residents in the Davis County portion of Hooper, as well as 500 more for those in the extreme western edge of the town (Beyond 67th West and not included in the Weber Planning Commission's guess) and the total would be about 4,572, probably making Hooper Utah's 50th largest town and bigger than the nearby incorporated communities of Plain City and West Point.
The Hooper Water Improvement District has 1,197 residential water hookups in Hooper. With an estimated population ratio of four-to-one for each hookup, this works out to an even higher population estimate of 4,788.
There are about 3,200 members of the Hooper Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (LDS Church organization also ignores the county line and all of Hooper attends church in meetinghouses on Weber County ground.)
Such population information is ultimately just a novelty, since an unincorporated town can have no real boundaries, even if it is about 4 miles wide by 4.5-miles deep.
-Hooper is still predominantly a diary farm/farming community, but it is gradually shifting toward a bedroom community status, for there's plenty of land available.
The town has its own post office, two grocery stores, four gas stations, a gift boutique store, a fast-food restaurant, several auto repair shops and other assorted businesses. The town also has two public parks, rodeo grounds and a cemetery with about 2,000 marked graves. Most of Hooper was even wired for cable-TV last year.
Hooper is also known for its quality tomatoes and "Hooper Tomato Days" has been celebrated annually on Labor Day since 1932.