This is the fourth in a weekly series of stories highlighting interesting facts about cities in Utah County.
Payson celebrated its 165th birthday in January, but did you know these interesting 10 facts about the southern Utah County city?
-- Stacy Johnson, Daily Herald
Payson is the third-oldest city in Utah County.
Payson was incorporated on Jan. 21, 1853. Only two cities in Utah County were incorporated before Payson — Provo and Lehi.
It was originally called Pacen.
According to L. Dee Stevenson, author of “Payson — An Historical Summary,” the settlement of Peteetneet Creek was settled by early Mormons at the request of Brigham Young. Payson was named after an early settler named James Pace. It was called Pacen at first, and the name was later changed to Payson.
It was home to the first high school in Utah south of Salt Lake City.
According to Payson City, a high school was established in Payson, the first in Utah County south of Salt Lake City. It closed in 1876 because of the rise of of Brigham Young Academy in Provo.
There are 19,810 people who live in Payson.
U.S. Census Bureau 2016 estimates show the population at 19,810, making Payson the 10th largest city in Utah County by population behind Provo, Orem, Lehi, Spanish Fork, Pleasant Grove, Springville, Eagle Mountain, American Fork and Saratoga Springs. There are 14 cities and towns smaller than Payson.
The city is growing, but not as fast as much of Utah County.
The city has seen a 6.9 percent population increase since 2010, according to U.S. Census Bureau information.
There are 18 cities and towns in Utah County that have higher growth rates than Payson and only five that are growing slower — Cedar Hills, Cedar Fort, Provo, Goshen and Fairfield.
Payson has been home to some famous people.
Singer/songwriter Jewel, who first rose to fame in the mid-‘90s, was born in 1974 in Payson. She lived in the city until age 2 when her family moved to Homer, Alaska.
Also from Payson is Don Bluth, a Disney animator and producer, livedi n Payson during his youth, according to Ray Wilson. Bluth worked in films such as “Anastasia,” “An American Tale” and “The Land Before Time.”
It has also been home to several rodeo stars.
Along with a famous singer and movie maker, Payson is home to world famous rodeo stars. Lee Robert Staheli was a famous cowboy who performed in rodeos, horse shows and western movies. According to the Peteetneet Museum, he died at age 91 in 2008.
Kaycee Feild, four-time bareback world champion is from Payson.
Troy Lerwill, called The Wild Child, was a clown with Bull and Barrel, and is still performing. He won Comedy Act of Year, six times; NFR Barrel Man, three times; and Coors Man in the Can (barrel) two times according to the Peteetneet Museum.
Several films were filmed, at least in part, in Payson.
Payson has been the filming location for several movies over the years, including the 1984 hit movie “Footloose.” Scenes were filmed at Payson High School, along with other locations throughout the city. The memorable tractor scene in the film was shot in Payson.
Also filmed in Payson were “Warning Sign,” a 1985 thriller; “Banjo the Woodpile Cat,” a 1975 children’s movie; “Baptists at our Barbecue,” a 2005 LDS comedy; “The Outlaw Trail, a 2005 film based on the life of Butch Cassidy and “Hatching Pete,” a 2009 Disney Channel movie.
The city is 8.66 square miles in size.
Payson covers 8.66 square miles of land, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, making it on the smaller end of cities in Utah County. The only cities and towns smaller than Payson in terms of land size are Highland, Lindon, Alpine, Vineyard, Cedar Hills, Elk Ridge, Woodland Hills and Goshen. The population per square mile is 2,111.5.
It is home to more than 1,000 businesses.
According to the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau numbers, the city was home to 1,284 businesses.
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