Juab County Travel
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Juab County Information for Students

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LOCATION

Art by Juab County Students

Juab County sometimes called the "Key" County, is located in West-Central Utah and extends westward from the mountains of the Uinta National Forest, near the center of the state, to the arid desert lands on the Nevada border. At its narrowest point, Juab County is 125 miles long and 25 miles wide. It covers an area of 3,412 square miles.

GEOGRAPHY

Juab County’s elevations range from 4,285 feet at Fish Springs in west Juab County to Ibapah Peak of the Deep Creek Range which stands at 12, 087 feet, in the west desert near the Nevada border. Mt. Nebo, in the Wasatch Mountain Range, reaches 11,928 feet in east Juab County. The two mountain peaks are jointed by Rich green valleys containing fertile farmlands and vast desert lands with acres of free moving sand dunes.

CLIMATE

Utah’s four-season climate is stimulating and healthy. The state’s altitude ranges from a low 2,200 feet in Washington County to more than 13,500 feet in the high Uintas. Snow frequently accumulates to depths of 10 feet or more at some Wasatch Mountain ski resorts. Because of the state’s inland location, Utah’s snow is unusually dry and fluffy and is acclaimed by many skiers as the world’s greatest powder snow. Like the state of Utah, Juab County enjoys beautiful seasonal weather, the average July temperature is 76.1 degrees Fahrenheit and average January temperature is 29.2 degrees. Juab County receives an average of 13.5 inches of precipitation annually, with March being the wettest month. Juab County’s growing season averages 155 days.

CITIES AND TOWNS

Juab County’s largest city is Nephi, the county seat, with a population of 4,000. Other major communities in Juab County are Mona and Eureka north of Nephi and Levan to the south. Many smaller towns exist throughout Juab County; they are Callao, Trout Creek and Fish Springs in the west desert; Mills in the southeast part of the county; and Tintic, Mammoth and Silver City all located near Eureka. Juab County’s total population is 6,800.

ORIGIN OF COUNTY NAME

The word "Juab" is of Ute Indian origin and signifies flat or level. It is reported that it was originally spelled "Yoab", and that the Indians probably appropriated it from the Spaniards. As Juab County has been named nearly two years before the arrival of the first settlers, it is improbable that it was named after a friendly Indian who lived on the Salt Creek, as usually reported. It is more probable that the name was selected as descriptive of the flat terrain of most of the county.

HISTORY OF JUAB COUNTY

Juab County lies within the Great Basin drainage area which is characterized by north south tending fault block ranges. The mountains reach heights in excess of 12,000 feet and intervening valleys average 4000 to 6000 feet above sea level. Average annual rainfall in the county varies from 3 to 14 inches. Within the predominately arid region lie abundant mineral resources. Although lacking in natural water resources, the generally favorable environmental and climatic conditions, mineral resources, and central location of the region were significant factors in the early human occupation, settlement and subsequent economic development of Juab County.

B 500 A.D., a recognizably-district culture had emerged, referred to as the Fremont. Although the precise origin of the Fremont are not well-defined, it seems likely that the native people and their culture evolved from other native tribes in the Great Basin area, such as the Anasazi who migrated northward from the Canyonlands area; or those moving west from the central plains. Archaeological evidence exists for multiple theories. The most compelling hypothesis is that the existing people adopted some of the southern Anasazi agricultural strategies (such as planting, ceramics, and the bow and arrow), thereby moving out of their total dependence on a hunter/gatherer lifestyle. Significant remains of the Fremont culture exist in the Nephi Mounds (about 2 miles north of Nephi) which have been placed on the national register of historic sites.

The disappearance of the Fremont culture is as controversial as its origins. Some say that people moved south during the Great Drought of the 13th century. Others maintain that they were assimilated by the encroaching Shoshone Tribes. In multiple locales, there is no apparent time lag between the disappearance of Fremont pottery and the appearance of Shoshone and Paiute ceramics, both occurring around 1150 A.D.

The Shoshone moved in from the Death Valley region, and differentiated into the Shoshone, Paiute, Bannock, and Goshute. The area now called Juab County was split, the western portion being Goshute and the eastern, Ute. There was some intermarrying between the neighboring culture, and inter-tribal relations were generally peaceful. The desert culture necessary for survival had little use for warfare.

In September 1776, the Dominguez Escalate expedition party passed through what is now Juab County. The party camped at three locations in the Juab Valley while traveling south from Utah Lake. The party encountered friendly Indians in the Juab County area.

Other explorers in the region included Jedediah Smith in 1826 and John C. Fremont in 1844. In addition, the Old Spanish Trail ran nearby. This served as a focus for Indian slave trading, a practice which was promulgated mostly by early Spanish Americans. The Ute Indians, in particularly, made a practice of raiding other tribes like the Goshute and Paiute and selling the captives. This continued until the 1850’s when Christian pioneers strongly opposed and ultimately succeeded in bringing slave activity to a stop.

The Spanish Trail was used by Mormon Battalion members in 1847 and 1848 and then later in 1849 by prospectors on their way to California. Parley P. Pratt with his Southern Exploring Company entered Juab County in 1849. George A. Smith passed through in 1850 on his way to Iron County.

White settlement was first established in 1851. Shortly thereafter, Juab County was formally recognized by the government of the territory of Deseret. At that time, Juab County’s western boundary reached all the way to California. The present boundaries became set when Nevada was granted statehood in 1886. The name Juab is believed to have been derived from an Indian word Yoabi that means Thirsty Plains.

Joseph L. Heywood settled at the mouth of Salt Creek in 1851 in the spot that is now Nephi. A few months later, Clover Creek (Mona) was established, but all these people moved to Nephi in 1853 with the start of the Walker War, the first continuous hostile Indian activity between the Ute Indians and the white settlers.

Prior to this event, relations between the Indians and the white settlers had been mostly peaceful. The Mormon pioneers taught the Indians modern agriculture and Christianity. The Goshutes did not take part in the Walker War although some were killed b both the whites and Utes. The Goshutes were subjugated by a war of attrition instead of open hostilities. By 1862, whites controlled most of the tillable land in Juab County. Small Indian bands were forced to raid coaches and steal domestic animals to survive. Many of the limited number of watering areas in the western desert area were claimed by white settlers, which, in turn altered native game habitat.

When the U.S. Army attempted to restore some order, especially after the outbreak of the Black Hawk War in 1855, the Goshute were blamed for many deeds actually perpetuated by the Ute and Shoshone. The treaty of 1865 brought peace but the Goshute did not formally give up their claims to the land until the Deep Creek Reservation was created in 1914.

Mona was resettled in 1860. This year also saw the beginning of Chicken Creek, an original name that was changed to Levan in 1867. Early settlement activity centered around Nephi was Salt Creek Fort was built in 1854 and continued after the end of the Walker War.

It was well documented that most of the agricultural crops were destroyed early in 1855 by a combination of grasshoppers and a cyclone. The Juab Latter-Day Saint Stake Tabernacle was dedicated in 1865, and telegraph lines came a year later. Settlement activity shifted predominately to the north when then first mining strikes were reported in the Tintic area of north central Juab County in 1869 and 1870.

Silver City and Diamond, in the Tintic area, registered the first substantial claims, and Eureka and Mammoth quickly followed them. Mammoth grew to the point that it was incorporated in 1910, though diminishing population finally forced it to relinquish its corporate status in 1929.

Many other mining towns experienced similar booms, and then gradually faded, although the time span for each varied. Soon after the initial mining strike, there was a population boom (Mammoth hit 2,500) followed by a steady decline. Surrounding Eureka, there are seven recognized mining ghost towns. Eureka, itself, however, weathered many setbacks to remain Juab County’s second largest town for many years. The town was half burned in 1893, flooded out around 1900 and suffered a disastrous mine accident in 1914. On the plus side, Eureka was home for the second J.C. Penney store established in America.

Of course, mining did not constitute the only activity in Juab County after 1869. The railroad came in 1875; the telephone in the mid-1800’s, and the first local paper was published in 1887. Dry-land-farming was initiated on the Levan Ridge; there is some question whether this was 1887 or 1897.

Ranching, too, was vitally important to the emerging communities in Juab Valley between 1852 and 1880, including Juab, Nortonville, Starr, Little Salt Creek, and Four Mile Creek. In the western portion of the County the Deep Creek area was settled early and later became the primary area for the Goshute Indian Reservation. In addition to being a ranching community, Callao housed a pony express stop and was on the Overland Stage route. Settlement for farming and ranching also occurred in western Juab at Trout Creek, Fish Springs, and Pleasant Valley.

Over the years, parts of Juab County have been set aside to protect them from the pressures of mining, ranching, and urbanization. Portions of the Uinta National Forest were created in 1897, and Fish Lake National Forest was added two years later. Fish Springs Wildlife Refuge came into being in 1959. One hundred and twenty acres along Sevier Ridge Reservoir were set aside in 1964 as Yuba Lake State Recreation Area. Sixty thousand acres of unique sand dunes became the Little Sahara Recreation area in 1976.

The Tintic Mining District is an eight-square-mile area located on the eastern and western slopes of the central portion of the East Tintic Mountains in Juab County. Prior to the arrival of the mining industry about 1879, this area was inhabited by Ute Indians, who used these mountains and valleys primarily as hunting grounds. The Mormon emigration into Utah in 1847, and their subsequent exploration and expansion into all areas of the region, brought white men into the Tintic area for the first time. Among the first known white men to have entered the area was John Boone, who herded his cattle and horses to the area the early 1950’s. Such use of this area (the Indian’s hunting grounds) by the whites did not go unnoticed by the Indians, who, led by Chief Tintic for whom the area was named, waged a campaign known as the Tintic War in 1956 to drive the white men away.

However, it was the Indians who were eventually driven out, pushed west towards the Utah/Nevada border. Discovery of a float (ore brought to the surface) in Tintic Valley attracted some interested Mormons here in 1869, and by the end of that year the Tintic Mining District was born. The area was quickly transformed from quiet grazing lands into a busting mining district with ever increasing mining activity and population to sustain it.

The two leading cities in the county have always been Nephi and Eureka. They have been responsible for their share of development, improvements, roads, population growth, and county taxes. Both have established good schools, churches, and different industries.

The highest mountain in the county is Ibapah Peak with an elevation of 12,087 feet. Nearby is Haystack at 12,020 feet. Both mountains are in the Deep Creek Range in west Juab County near the Nevada border. The highest peak in the Wasatch Range is majestic Mt. Nebo, rising to an elevation of 11,928 feet. Nephi is nestled at the foot of Nebo while the little settlement of Callao with less than 25 homes, is nearest to Ibapah.

Page 8 of the Acts, Resolutions, and Memorials of the Territory of Utah 1862 says: "An act locating the County Seat of Juab County. Be it enacted by the Governor and the legislative assembly of the Territory of Utah, that the County Seat of Juab County is hereby located at Nephi City in said County. Approved January 16, 1862.

The central location of Nephi had much to do with it being selected as the county seat. Nephi’s main street was the same as the "Old California Trail". The town grew up to the east and west on each side of this "trail" that had been established years before.

Nephi has the unique advantage of being located at the intersection of four main routes of travel. Formerly known as Highway 91, it was the main highway going north and south. State Highway 132 goes east into Sanpete County and connects with Highway 89 which travels through the southern portion of the state. Highway 132 also goes west via Leamington, Lynndyl and Delta and into Ely, Nevada.

LAND OWNERSHIP

The Federal Government controls 1,569,966 acres of 71.90% of the land area in Juab County. Of the 1,569,966 acres 1,442,917 acres are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service controls 109,917 acres and the Fish and Wildlife Department controls 17,992 acres. Private ownership is the next highest category with 382,144 acres or 17.5% of the total land area. The State of Utah owns 178,526 acres or 8.18% of the total. The remaining 52,617 acres or 2.4% belongs to the incorporated cities, the Goshute Reservation, and to roads and railroad rights-of-ways.

JUAB COUNTY POPULATION

Year

Population

% Annual Change

1870

2,034

 

1880

3,474

70.8%

1890

5,582

60.7%

1900

10,082

80.6%

1910

10,702

6.1%

1920

9,871

-7.8%

1930

8,605

-12.8%

1940

7,392

-14.1%

1950

5,981

-19.1%

1960

4,597

-23.1%

1970

4,574

-0.5

1980

5,530

20.9%

1990

5,817

5.2%

1994

6,800

16.9%

RECREATION

Juab County s home to the "Ute Stampede" rodeo held every July. This event is a three-day celebration offering parades, a craft show, a car show, marathon and golf tournament. The rodeo offers world class competitors and great family entertainment.

Yuba Lake is located in the southern portion of Juab County. Yuba Lake is 13 miles long with a sandy beach along the north side. There are two boat ramps, which can be used for a fee. Located near the lake is a campsite operated by Utah State Parks.

The Little Sahara Recreation Area, located in the central portion of Juab County, consists of 60,000 acres of unique sand dunes and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Little Sahara is mainly used for off-road vehicles such as dune buggies, dirt bikes, and 4-wheel drive vehicles. Easter weekend annually attracts large crowds to the area for off-road vehicle races. An estimated 15,000 people visit the area each year during Easter weekend.

Driving along the Scenic Mt. Nebo Loop you will notice lush vegetation and colorful flowers. There are numerous lakes and streams perfect for fishing. The area is abundant with big game and upland birds. In the winter snow enhances the beauty of the wilderness landscape. Snowmobilers and cross country skiers enjoy following the winter trails of the loop.

The marshlands which make up the Fish Springs National Refuge are located in the central western portion of Juab County. There are 31 square kilometers of marsh is this area which are fed by 14 springs or sets of springs. Within the Wildlife Refuge, four caves have been located and nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. The four caves are: Fish Springs Cave, Barn Own Cave, Hot Springs Cave, and Crab Cave. Each of these caves contain artifacts and information which thoroughly documents 4,000 years of history. All of the known human cultures of the eastern Great Basin area have at one time or another occupied this area dating back at least 9,000 years. These were the Archaic group, the Fremont, Sevier, and finally the Paiute-Shoshones.

BASEBALL

The first baseball game played in Utah (some reports say the first game played this side of the Mississippi River) took place in Nephi on January 1, 1875. In October of that year when Samuel Gibson challenged George C. Whitmore to each pick 9 men for a ball-game and each of the men on the winning team was to receive a "quarter of beef". They found out they had no set rules for an umpire to go by. It was necessary to send to New York for a rule book and it was December 27th before the book arrived. Rather than postone the game until spring some men scraped the snow off almost the entire Pioneer City Park. The game lasted from 10:30 AM to 3:30 PM. There was an interruption when after the first innings the backstop for Gibson’s team was called home because of the arrival of a new son. It was necessary to find a replacement. The game ended with a score if 87 for the Whitmore team and only 17 for the Gibson team.

From then on baseball was a favorite sport of many Nephites for many years. During the late 1930’s and early 1940’s three softball leagues were in operation. A large group of sports fans spent nearly all their Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays cheering for their favorite teams. The Commercial League was sponsored by many local businessmen. The Recreational League sponsored by Nephi Junior Chamber of Commerce, city employees, Battery E and Ostler’s Oilers. The Central Utah League was composed of teams throughout Central Utah Cities and fierce competition produced great teams.

JUAB TRAVEL COUNCIL
P.O. Box 71
Nephi, UT 84648
435-623-5203

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