Amalga: small-town haven and cheese heaven
Usually the first thing people ask when Amalga is mentioned is, "Where is Amalga?"
Take a left at Smithfield Implement Co. on Highway 91 heading north and about three miles later Amalga will come into view.
Why doesn't anyone know where Amalga is?
There is no reason to go through the town unless one is headed for the Cache Valley Cheese Plant, said Amalga City Councilman Jerry Munk. He said the cheese plant is kind of Amalga's claim to fame, that is -- if the city has one.
"They've been real good to us," Munk said of the plant.
One of the reason's the town has such a good water system is because of the plant, Munk said. It is also the reason natural gas was installed in the town 25 years ago, he explained.
Though it's a cheese town now, Amalga didn't used to be -- at first it was sugar beets. The cheese plant was converted from a sugar beet processing plant. When the sugar beet business was thriving back in the 1920s, Munk said the town was home to a hotel and sugar beet company housing where the town park now stands. At that time railroad lines serviced by the sugar beet plant ran through town, but have since been removed.
Why do the town's approximately 450 residents choose to live there?
"I like the rural atmosphere," said Munk. That's the reason most of the people live there, he said.
Amalga isn't like the run-of-the-mill western town. The town doesn't have a post office.
"We have a mailman," Munk boasts.
There is no main street lined with store fronts. Locating stores in the town wouldn't be feasible based on the small population, the city clerk said.
The three main businesses in town are the cheese plant, an autobody shop and Moonlight Diesel, Munk said.
Amalga residents don't enjoy some of the pleasures other Cache Valley residents may take for granted. The clerk said cable isn't available and no one ever seems to be able to get a pizza delivered to the town. There isn't a sewer system, either. Everyone has a septic tank, Munk said.
"Downtown" Amalga consists mainly of Sugar Park, the city building and the LDS stake center. No street bears the name "Main Street." Instead that street is called 2400 West. Munk said 90 percent of the dwellings are on that road alone.
In a day and age when towns in which every resident knows every other resident are a dying breed, Amalga is an exception. Munk calls the town a "tight-knit community" where for the most part, everyone knows everyone else.
"It's good in a lot of ways," he said.