Who was John Walden and What is His Utah Family Legacy?

As an original co-founder of Eagle Mountain in 1996, John Walden‘s name remains linked to the city. He passed away in 2017, seeing the city grow from his vision to one of the fastest-growing cities in Utah.

A picture of John Walden, Founder of Eagle Mountain, and Tiffany Walden, Owner of Tiffany Homes and successful Utah Real Estate Entrepreneur.

Eagle Mountain hasn’t slowed; many new people find the area gorgeous and liveable. Walden’s willingness to take risks and push through challenging times is rarely shared. What is the legacy of John Walden and his role early with Eagle Mountain? He found a way to make plans work.

Early Development

When the idea of Eagle Mountain first started, John Walden and a pair of physicians named Scott Gettings and Andrew Zorbis didn’t know exactly what they were getting themselves into. They all enjoyed the area and owned homes in Park City, and they saw an opportunity to buy 8000 acres of land in the Cedar Valley in the mid-1990s.

Picking it up for just $2.5 million in a bankruptcy auction, it was not much more than water rights. However, John Walden would later find its promise to serve as a thriving community down the road.

With a new focus on development, there was the issue of turning a relatively remote location into a true community. Walden and his team talked to Cedar Pass Ranch and Harvest Haven residents to combine and help build what is now called Eagle Mountain.

Soon after everything started to come together, Walden helped hire a master planner to put together the town. The amount of space in Cedar Valley provided outstanding growth potential with few limitations. They built out the infrastructure, sold buyers on the long-term vision of the area, and Eagle Mountain took off.

By the 2010 census, Eagle Mountain had over 21,000 residents. Wanting the city to be more than just a place for people to sleep after work, the focus started to go on bringing in or building new businesses within city limits. Instead of feeling like another suburb serving bigger cities in Utah, Walden always believed that Eagle Mountain could stand alone.

Handling Growing Pains

A picture of two men using building blocks to show an example of a building; John Walden, Founder of Eagle Mountain, Utah. The founders used techniques such as this to visualize the map layout for Eagle Mountain when first starting to build there.
A picture of two men using building blocks to show an example of a building; John Walden, Founder of Eagle Mountain, Utah. The founders used techniques such as this to visualize the map layout for Eagle Mountain when first starting to build there.

Optimistic plans for city planning can start to cause controversy as time goes on. Starting from scratch lets people plan everything, but decisions sometimes work differently than planned.

One particular decision John Walden received negativity from came when he pushed the state to relocate the prison to Eagle Mountain. He saw it as a great place to rehabilitate people and give them a second chance once out. They’d have a place to work and contribute to society, and the city could spin it positively. Instead, many residents worried about property value, the community’s safety with inmates so close, and countless other negatives.

There was also a stretch of political instability, with ten mayors in 13 years. John Walden viewed this as growing pains, as the city dealt with many firsts during the first few years of existence.

Since then, there’s been a lot more stability on the political side. Throughout history, many cities have dealt with early struggles politically before settling down. Everyone fighting for their personal preferences often turns into heated debates.

Keeping up with demand was a struggle for John Walden, and the city still deals with it. He consistently worked with businesses to come in and work with Eagle Mountain. It’s grown a lot on the job and commercial development side, giving residents food and shopping options close to their homes.

Throughout all the growing pains, John Walden found a way to stick to the bigger picture. A leader can’t be universally loved, but he focused on doing what he thought was best for the city long-term.

Living on through Tiffany Walden

John Walden‘s daughter, Tiffany, found the charm of Eagle Mountain shortly after development started. She’s lived in the area herself for close to 20 years. A real estate investor and prideful citizen, she pushes for continued growth.

As the owner of Tiffany Homes, Tiffany Walden works to meet the needs of current residents and those looking to relocate. Offering a personalized experience for everyone she works with, she wants to ensure that settling doesn’t have to be an option. There are opportunities to buy existing homes in the city, even if many still opt to build new ones on undeveloped land.

As a resident of Eagle Mountain, she’s pushed for development to fulfill her dad’s vision of the city being self-sustainable. She helped with the Facebook Data Center. Bringing high-paying jobs and employers to the region gives locals a chance to stay in the city they grew up in.

Within the last year, several restaurants, department stores, grocery stores, and banks have opened up or are under construction within Eagle Mountain city limits. The demand for commercial development is at an all-time high to reduce travel time for residents. Tiffany Walden has served on committees and taken the initiative to entice developers to see Eagle Mountain’s potential as it grows.

What’s Next for Eagle Mountain?

In just over 25 years, Eagle Mountain has grown to a city with over 50,000 residents. They have a robust government, an extensive list of regional and local parks, a dedicated school system for residents, and a transportation infrastructure ready to handle future growth.

Business and commercial development continually bring optimism to current residents. Big employers find the location affordable and easy to start with open, undeveloped land.

People like Tiffany Walden are part of what made Eagle Mountain what it is now and what it can be. Playing a role in helping the city meet her father’s expectations motivates her. It hasn’t always been easy, but people continue to find the charm of Eagle Mountain as John Walden’s legacy tied to the city lives on.