Sevier County, Utah

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A Brief History of Sevier County*

Sevier County is located in the High Plateau country of central Utah. Most of the towns lie near the Sevier River in a fertile valley bordered on the west by the Pahvant Range and on the east by the Wasatch and Fish Lake plateaus. National forests cover almost half of the land. The area is seismically active, and a number of earthquakes have centered in the southern part of the county on the Sevier Fault.

Sevier County, Utah

Many prehistoric Indian sites have been found. Sudden Shelter, an Archaic site on Ivie Creek, contains one of the longest cultural time records in Utah east of the Wasatch 7080 to 80 B.P. (before the present). Fremont Culture sites continue to be found, especially during construction projects. Fremont State Park preserves artifacts from a recently uncovered prehistoric village.

Travelers on the Old Spanish Trail and mountain man Jedediah S. Smith were among those who crossed the county before white settlement. The Southern Exploring Company under Mormon Apostle Parley P. Pratt visited the area during the winter of 1849-50, and George W. Bean explored the Sevier Valley in 1863. Early in 1864 ten men settled in the Richfield area. Several other towns were founded in the next few years. However, violent confrontations with the Ute Indians during the Black Hawk War (1865-68) forced abandonment of all the Sevier settlements in April 1867. Attempts to resettle did not succeed until 1870.

The area grew rapidly. Richfield, with 8 families and 12 men in 1871, had 753 people by 1874 and was on its way to becoming a major regional commercial center and, eventually, the provider of hospital, airport, and other services for a large area. Many of the county's early settlers were Scandinavians who brought distinctive building styles and cultural practices with them.

The Deseret Telegraph extended its line from Gunnison to Monroe in 1872, providing a vital communications link to the territory's larger cities. The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad reached Salina in 1891 and Richfield in 1896, improving the marketing of Sevier agricultural products. The building of Interstate 70 in the 1980s linked the county to the national freeway system.

Sheep and cattle remain important to the local economy as do dairy products, field crops, and, in recent years, turkey raising. Trade and manufacturing -- including food processing clothing and building products -- have contributed to the county's growth as well. Sevier is the state's leading producer of gypsum, a mineral used in building products such as plaster and plasterboard produced in Sigurd. The county has coal mines and natural gas reserves in the northeast and major geothermal resources that could be tapped for energy production.

*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 Sevier County
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Sevier County History

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Sevier County Quick Facts

Area: 1,976 Square Miles
County Seat: Richfield
Origin of Name: Sevier River
Population: 20,802 (2010 Census), 18,842 (2000 Census); 19,640 (2006 Estimate)
Bordering Counties: Beaver, Emery, Millard, Piute, Sanpete, and Wayne