Notch Peak, House Range, Millard County
Area: 6,818 square miles; population: 11,333 (in 1990); county
seat: Fillmore; origin of county name: after President Millard
Fillmore; principal cities/towns: Delta (2,998), Fillmore (1,956);
economy: alfalfa seed, cattle, electric power generation; points
of interest: territorial statehouse in Fillmore, Cove Fort, Old Fort
Deseret, Topaz Relocation Camp, Gunnison massacre site, Clear Lake Waterfowl
Management Area, Intermountain Power Project.
Millard County is bordered on the east by the Pahvant Range, while west
to the Nevada border lie the broad valleys and desert mountain ranges typical
of the Great Basin. The Sevier River, which begins in mountains east of
Cedar City, drains into the sometimes dry Sevier Lake in central Millard
County. A huge granitic upthrust in the House Range, as well as volcanic
cones and numerous fossil beds, provide clues to past geologic activity
and prehistoric animal and plant life of the area.
The county's prehistoric residents, part of the Sevier Culture which disappeared
ca. A.D. 1300, lived in small villages with semi-subterranean dwellings.
Historic Indian groups of the area include Southern Paiutes, Pahvant Utes,
and Goshutes. A small Indian reservation is located at Kanosh.
In October 1851 two groups left Salt Lake City for eastern Millard County.
Some thirty families led by Anson Call made the first permanent white settlement,
while territorial officials, including Governor Brigham Young and surveyor
Jesse W. Fox, selected a site for the capital, Fillmore being near the geographical
center of Utah Territory. The legislature met in Fillmore a few times, but
in December 1856 it voted to move the capital to Salt Lake City because
Fillmore was too far from major cities.
On 26 October 1853 seven members of a transcontinental railroad survey team
led by Lieutenant John W. Gunnison of the Army Corps of Topographical Engineers
were killed by Indians southwest of Delta, a tragic incident in the Walker
War (1853-54) that was apparently triggered by the actions of a group of
emigrants against the Indians.
Ranching and farming developed slowly. In the early twentieth century Millard
County was second to Tooele in the number of sheep on its ranges, but later
cattle became the major livestock interest. The establishment of the Union
Pacific line through west Millard County and the founding of Delta in 1907
led to the most important agricultural development--large-scale alfalfa
seed production amounting eventually to three-fourths of the state's total
crop. The Yuba Dam and other water projects made this venture possible.
Mining and smelting have contributed to the county's economic growth, with
Millard producing significant amounts of fluorspar, copper, manganese, sulphur,
gypsum, beryllium, and salt. The most important industrial development,
however, began in the 1970s when plans were made for the Intermountain Power
Project's huge coal-burning plant near Delta. Southern California buys much
of the electricity generated by the IPP.
Miriam B. Murphy