Garfield County, Utah
A Brief History of Garfield County*
The Colorado River and Lake Powell mark the eastern border of remote, sparsely populated Garfield County. Other geographical features include the Henry Mountains in the northeast and the forested, high plateaus in the western half of the county. The two areas have 11 peaks over 10,000 feet. The Sevier River system runs north through western Garfield, and the Escalante River empties into the Colorado.
Traces of the two major prehistoric formative Indian cultures -- the Fremont and Anasazi -- have been found in the county. In historic times Southern Paiutes and Utes used the land.
The first white settlers made the difficult trip from Beaver and Parowan through the mountains to the Panguitch area in March 1864. The village, abandoned during the Black Hawk War (1865-68), was not resettled until 1871. The territorial legislature created the county in 1882 and, at the suggestion of Gov. Eli H. Murray, named it after assassinated President James A. Garfield. Boulder, settled in 1889, was the most isolated town in Utah until the mid-1930s when Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers constructed a road from Boulder to Escalante. The CCC also reseeded ranges and built telephone lines, ranger stations, and trails.
Vast rangelands and some of the state's largest forest reserves have made cattle ranching and lumber Garfield County's most important industries since pioneer times. The forests also provide many recreational sites, and Panguitch Lake is one of the state's prime fishing waters. The creation of Bryce Canyon National Park in 1928 increased the importance of tourism to the local economy. The large sections of Capitol Reef National Park and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area that lie within the county remained largely inaccessible in the late 1980s. The proposed, controversial paving of the Burr Trail through the Waterpocket Fold area of Capitol Reef would, however, expand travel in eastern Garfield. The seasonal nature of lumbering and tourism often gives the county higher than average unemployment.
The Upper Valley oil field in central Garfield is a sizeable oil producing area. The county also has large coal fields as well as tar sands and uranium, but these energy-related resources have not been developed. Mining for other minerals has been very limited.
*Used by permission. Beehive History 14: Utah Counties. 1988. Utah State Historical Society, 300 Rio Grande, Salt Lake City, UT 84101-1182, 801/533-3500.
- 2010 Utah County Fact Book
The information in this book describes the economic, demographic, public safety, and financial characteristics of each of Utah’s 29 counties. Published by the Utah Association of Counties (UAC). Previous versions are available from UAC as well.
- Census 2000 Demographic Profile: Garfield County
General population characteristics, social characteristics, economic characteristics, and housing characteristics for the county. From American FactFinder, the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Economic Profile: Garfield County
Information on county industry and employment. From the Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUtah).
- Garfield County Facts
Labor force, economic and wage information from the Department of Workforce Services County and Statewide Information.
- Garfield County Profile
Census, demographic, genealogy & vital records, crime, educational, economic, government, and county data. From ePodunk.
- Garfield County QuickFacts
Find quick, easy access to facts about people, business, and geography from the U.S. Census Bureau's State & County QuickFacts.
- Religious Membership Report: Garfield County
Religious denomination for the county. From the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA).
- 2002 Census of Agriculture County Profile: Garfield County
Census data on farms, crops, and livestock. From the Census of Agriculture, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- Garfield County Agriculture Profile
Data on land ownership, crops, and livestock. From the Utah State University Extension.
- Garfield County News - Archives
Available issues from Utah Digital Newspapers: 1913-1943 (Also contains the Panguitch Progress, 1913-1919). Search all newspapers, select a specific newspaper or browse by county. This project was funded by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and digitized at the University of Utah.