Kane County, Utah

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A Brief History of Kane County*

The high desert landscape of Kane County belongs to the Colorado Plateau geographical province. The waters of man-made Lake Powell on the Colorado River form the county's eastern border, and most of the streams in Kane are part of the Colorado River system. The northwest corner of the county is forested.

Kane County, Utah

The county's prehistoric Indian dwellers were part of the Anasazi Culture.  Archaeologists have recorded hundreds of sites on Fifty Mile Mountain within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, but few have been excavated because of their remoteness. The Southern Paiutes occupied the county in historic times.

Several towns, including Kanab, were first settled in the mid-1860s and then abandoned. Kanab was resettled in 1870 by Levi Stewart and others at the request of Brigham Young. In March 1874 Young encouraged the formation of a United Order at Orderville. Although United Orders were organized in many Utah towns, including Kanab, the Orderville experiment in communal living was more successful and longer-lived, making this town unique among Utah settlements. By the 1880s Mormon church support had become lukewarm, and the United Order of Orderville was dissolved.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries a majority of the county's residents were farmers or ranchers. In 1922 when Deadwood Coach with Tom Mix was filmed in Kane County, the Parry brothers of Kanab led in the development of lodging, food, and other services for film crews, and by the 1930s Kanab was called Little Hollywood because so many movies were made there. The 1920s and 1930s also saw Kanab become a tourist center for visitors to Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Grand Canyon National Parks. During the construction of Glen Canyon Dam near Page, Arizona, which began in 1956, Kanab's population doubled and the economy boomed. The creation of Lake Powell, one of Utah's major recreational sites, brought new service industries connected with boating and fishing to the area, especially the Bullfrog Basin Marina in the extreme northeast corner of the county.

Enormous coal reserves in the Kaiparowits Plateau and Alton fields are Kane County's most important natural resource and may, when environmental issues are resolved, dictate a new economic future based on mining.

*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.

Beehive History A History of Kane County
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Kane County History

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Kane County Quick Facts

Area: 3,904 Square Miles
County Seat: Kanab
Origin of Name: Col. Thomas L. Kane, supporter of Mormon settlers
Population: 7,125 (2010 Census), 6,046 (2000 Census); 6,532 (2006 Estimate)
Bordering Counties: Garfield, Iron, San Juan, and Washington