Wayne County, Utah
A Brief History of Wayne County*
Wayne County lies entirely within the colorful Colorado Plateau geographical province and includes portions of Capitol Reef and Canyonlands National Parks. The Fremont River flows south into the county from Fish Lake and then east to join the Dirty Devil, a tributary of the Green River. The Green marks the county's eastern border.
Scientists have identified the remains of extinct Pleistocene species such as the sloth, horse, mammoth, bison, and camel in Wayne and dated Archaic and Fremont Indian sites (Cowboy Caves) to between 6300 B.C. and 450 A.D. Horseshoe (Barrier) Canyon and the Maze section of Canyonlands in eastern Wayne contain spectacular pictographs. In historic times the county was part of the Ute Indians' domain.
Wayne was created in May 1892 from Piute County. Most of its towns were settled after 1880 because of the remote location and limited resources. Raising livestock is the oldest and most important industry. Beef cattle produce the most income, but dairy cows, sheep, and poultry have all contributed to the local economy in the past. Getting cattle to market was difficult. Until good roads were built in the 1930s stock was driven some 100 miles north to the railroad at Nephi and later to a Denver & Rio Grande branch line in Sevier County. The creation of national forests in the early 20th century reduced the number of cattle that could be grazed in western Wayne County, and cattle rustling by the notorious Robbers Roost gang threatened ranchers until the late 1890s. The lumber industry and, in more recent years, tourism also provide income for some residents. Uranium has been mined, and tar sands, another energy-related resource, await development. The state operates two fish hatcheries in Wayne.
During the Great Depression the Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided funds to build a county courthouse in Loa. County officials originally met in private homes and rented quarters and later converted a store into office space. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), another federal program during the depression, operated three camps in the county. The CCC built roads, campgrounds, and small water projects. Road building has been a major concern of local government from the beginning. Modern highways now make it easy for tourists to drive to many scenic attractions and give residents easy access to the nearest commercial center and medical and other services in Richfield.
*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: Wayne County
General population characteristics, social characteristics, economic characteristics, and housing characteristics for the county. From American FactFinder, the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Economic Profile: Wayne County
Information on county industry and employment. From the Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUtah).
- Religious Membership Report: Wayne County
Religious denomination for the county. From the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA).
- Wayne County Facts
Labor force, economic and wage information from the Department of Workforce Services County and Statewide Information. See also: Wayne County Demographic and Economic Profile.
- Wayne County Profile
Census, demographic, genealogy & vital records, crime, educational, economic, government, and county data. From ePodunk.
- Wayne County QuickFacts
Find quick, easy access to facts about people, business, and geography from the U.S. Census Bureau's State & County QuickFacts.
- 2002 Census of Agriculture County Profile: Wayne County
Census data on farms, crops, and livestock. From the Census of Agriculture, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- Wayne County Agriculture Profile
Data on land ownership, crops, and livestock. From the Utah State University Extension.
- The Wayne County Insider - Current Issue
Online version of the Insider.
- The Wayne & Garfield County Insider - 2004-Current
Fully-searchable PDFs from Utah Newsearch, a digital newspaper service of the Utah Press Association. Current issues are embargoed for two weeks.