A Hyrum businessman, Soren Hanson, and his massive empire built of eggs.
The economy of Cache Valley in northern Utah began to evolve in the late 19th century from its pioneer subsistence roots to specialized private enterprise. A leading figure in this transition was Hyrum businessman Soren Hanson, who also served as postmaster, city councilman, and mayor.
In the 1880s, local farmers still bartered with retail merchants, and eggs were often the medium of exchange. Hanson built a profitable business by taking the eggs off the merchants’ hands – for as little as 8 cents a dozen – and then reselling them for many times that amount. By 1895, his business had grown to the point that he needed a modern storage plant, which he built modeled on facilities he had seen back East. Hanson’s new egg house was a two-story building kept cold with huge ice tanks that could store about 4,000 cases of eggs.
By 1897, business was really booming and Hanson sold 120,000 dozen eggs throughout Cache Valley, southern Idaho, surrounding states, and beyond. He once stored several carloads of eggs in Nebraska and resold them within three weeks for a $20,000 profit. With that bankroll, he fulfilled a long-held promise to his wife to build her a proper home. The house Hanson built in 1907 with his egg profits is an imposing 2 1/2-story Queen Anne style home in the center of Hyrum, with ornate gable bays and a circular tower. It cost an estimated $30,000, which was a small fortune at that time and an appropriate reward for his wife’s long years of living in a log-cabin.
By the turn of the century, Hanson was the largest egg dealer in the Intermountain West and his beautiful house – which is now on the National Register of Historic Places – reflected both his business success and the economic power of the lowly egg.
Image: Soren Hanson House. The exterior of the Soren Hanson House on 166 W Main Street in Hyrum, UT. Built around 1905, the Hanson house is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Courtesy of J. Willard Marriott Library.
See Miriam B. Murphy, “Soren Hanson's House That Eggs Built," History Blazer, January 1996, accessed http://historytogo.utah.gov; "Egg Business" in Earle W. Allen, Bessie Brown, and Lila Eliason, Home in the Hills of Bridger Land: The History of Hyrum from 1860 to 1969 (Hyrum: City of Hyrum, 1969); National Register Nomination Form for the Soren Hanson House, Hyrum, by John McCormick and Diana Johnson in Preservation Office, Utah Division of State History, Salt Lake City.