Summit County History



Summit County History

Organized in January 1854, Summit County wraps around the southwest corner of Wyoming. Nearly one-half of the County is mountainous and much of the High Uintas Wilderness Area is located within its boundaries. Summit County borders Rich County to the north, Morgan County to the northwest, Salt Lake County on the west, Wasatch and Duchesne Counties on the south, and Daggett County on the east. The county got its name because of the high mountains which offer fantastic outdoor recreation in both summer and winter.


However, recreation is not what the pioneers were looking for at the time they settled this area. They probably chose this location for settlement because of the abundance of timber to build homes, game for food and clothing, and water. Each spring water flows from the mountain creeks and rivers into the lush, green valleys. In fact, four of the major Utah Rivers start in the High Uintas in Summit County. They are Duchesne, Provo, Weber and Bear Rivers.


Summit County may well be considered "the entrance into Utah," for it is this area that the pioneers first entered as they exited the Wyoming Territory. The pioneers traveled first through Echo Canyon, named such for the strong echo effect the narrow canyon created. Even the oxen seemed spooked as they could hear the echo of their own footsteps and thought there were other oxen ahead. William Clayton gave the following description of Echo Canyon in his diary: "There was a very singular echo in this ravine. The rattling of the wagons resembled carpenters hammering at boards inside the high rock. The report of a rifle echoed from rock to rock for some time. The lowing of cattle and the braying of mules seemed to be answered beyond the mountains. Music, especially brass instruments, had a very pleasing effect. The echo imitated every note. The high rocks on the north and high mountains on the south with a narrow ravine for a road formed scenery at once more romantic and more interesting than any I had ever witnessed."


Brigham Young directed W. W. Phelps to take a large exploring party through Utah in 1853 to locate places suitable for settlement by the immigrants. William Gardner and a few men started from the mouth of the Weber River on September 2, 1853, and followed it to its source in the High Uintas. From there they followed the Provo River to its mouth. It is from this expedition that most of the communities in Summit County evolved. The towns of Henefer and Echo are part of the area where the pioneers first came. From there, the Weber River meanders through the meadowland where Coalville, and Hoytsville are located. This was one of the first areas where coal was mined. The river then passes by the town known as Wanship, and just beyond there was the community knows as Rockport which is now covered by the water of the Rockport Reservoir. Still following the meandering river, the scouting party approached the areas now known as Peoa, Oakley, Marion and Kamas. Just beyond Kamas two towns were settled called Francis and Woodland which are located along the Provo River. Most of the pioneer communities in Summit County were built along the Weber River from its source in the High Uintas to the border of Morgan County. The exception to this is Park City and nearby communities (Snyderville) that were mainly established because of mining in this area.


SOURCE: Daughters of Utah Pioneers