Mammoth Mine, Juab County, 1905
Area: 3,412 square miles; population: 5,817 (in 1990); county
seat: Nephi; origin of county name: from the Ute word meaning flat
or level plain; principal cities/towns: Nephi (3,515), Mona (584),
Eureka (562), Levan (416); economy: agriculture, manufacturing, mining,
recreation; points of interest: Historic Tintic Mining District,
Little Sahara Recreation Area, Old Pony Express and Stage Route, Yuba Reservoir,
Goshute Indian Reservation, Tintic Mining Museum in Eureka, Mount Nebo Wilderness
Area, Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge.
Juab County is a part of the Basin and Range physiographic province. Most
of the fertile farming land in the county is located in the Juab Valley
near Nephi at the base of Mount Nebo (11,877 feet). The western portion
of the county consists of broad, semi-arid valleys and low desert mountains.
The Wasatch Mountains are located to the east, and moving west there are
the East Tintic Range, West Tintic Range, Thomas Range (Topaz Mountain 7,113
feet), Fish Springs Range, and the southern tip of the Deep Creek Range
in the extreme northwest corner of the county.
Archaic and Fremont-Sevier cultural sites have been found in Juab County.
Nephi Mounds north of Nephi is one of the most important Fremont agricultural
sites in the eastern Great Basin. A portion of the Goshute Indian Reservation
is located in the northwest corner of the county.
In 1776 the Dominguez-Escalante expedition crossed the county from north
to south at the eastern end, passing near present Nephi. Jedediah Smith
traversed the western end of the county in 1826 and via Fish Springs in
1827. In 1843-44 John C. Frémont journeyed through the county's eastern
end en route north. Government explorers John W. Gunnison and J.H. Simpson
traveled in the area in 1853 and 1859, respectively. Gunnison touched the
extreme southeast portion of the county while Simpson pioneered the route
later used by the Pony Express and the transcontinental telegraph.
In 1852 the legislative assembly created Juab County, which extended as
a narrow strip to what was then the western boundary of Utah Territory (now
the western boundary of Nevada). The western portion was removed in 1854
to form part of Summit County, Nevada, and several other changes in Juab's
borders have been made over the years.
The first settlement in Juab Valley occurred in 1851 when a group of Mormon
settlers arrived near Salt Creek, at present-day Nephi. Their economy was
based primarily on agriculture.
From 1860 to 1863 Goshutes attacked an overland mail station at Willow Creek.
As a result, the U.S. Army established a camp at Cedar Summit and a cantonment
at Fish Springs in 1863.
In 1869 precious metals were discovered in the Tintic region, changing the
economic and industrial destiny of Juab County. The towns of Diamond, Silver
City, Mammoth, and especially Eureka became the main areas of the Tintic
Mining District, which by 1899 was labeled one of the foremost mining districts
in the country. From 1870 to 1899 Tintic produced approximately $35,000,000
in mineral wealth. The metals in Tintic consisted of silver, gold, copper,
lead, zinc, and some uranium at Topaz Mountain. Mining continued through
the 1950s, and even today some mining operations continue on a small scale.
In recent years, several small manufacturing firms have helped to diversify
Recreation at the White Sand Dunes, Little Sahara Recreation Area, has been
very popular, attracting tourists and outdoor enthusiasts to the western
portion of the county.
Philip F. Notarianni