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Cache County

Cache County

Quick facts
Interesting facts
What is the land like?
A bit of prehistory and early history
Settlement
Economy and development

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Quick facts

Area: 1,171 square miles
Population
County seat: Logan
Where it got its name: from the French verb cacher, "to hide," because early trappers hid their pelts and supplies here for safe-keeping
Main cities/towns: Logan, Smithfield, Hyrum, Providence, North Logan
Economy: manufacturing, trade, education, agriculture, dairying
Interesting places: Cache National Forest, Logan Canyon, Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area, Beaver Mountain ski area, Hyrum Lake State Park, Ronald V. Jensen Living Historical Farm, Logan LDS Temple and Tabernacle, Wellsville LDS Tabernacle, Logan Historic District, Utah State University (Old Main, Nora Eccles Harrison Art Museum).

Interesting facts

rock house

William Barrett home, the first built house in Mendon.

What is the land like?

family, horse and buggy, and house

The L. Joseph Howell family in front of their home in Wellsville. This house, built in 1883, became the first house in the valley to indoor plumbing. Joseph Howell became Representative to Congress in 1902.

Cache County, located at the northern edge of Utah, is a land of mountains and a green, fertile valley. The Wasatch Mountains border the county on the east, and a spur of the Wasatch, the steep Wellsville Mountains, border it on the west.

The Bear River flows through the northwestern corner of the county. The Little Bear, Blacksmith Fork, and Logan rivers add their waters to the Bear.

A bit of prehistory and early history

Hunters and gatherers occupied Cache Valley as early as 10,000 years ago. Much later, the valley served as a gathering place for Plains Indians and the local Shoshone.

Trappers and explorers frequently visited the valley. John Weber and Jim Bridger came through in 1824; Peter Skene Ogden and James Beckwourth followed in 1825.

Settlement

students at typewriters

Typing class at the Utah Agricultural College. Those things on the desks? They're called typewriters.

In July 1855 a group of Mormon settlers drove a herd of cattle into the valley and camped at Haw Bush Spring, later known as Elkhorn Ranch.

Summer was lovely, but the winter of 1855-56 was so ferocious that the settlers gave up and drove the cattle back to the Salt Lake Valley.

But in 1856 the LDS church sent Peter Maughan to settle Cache Valley for good. He founded a town called Maughan's Fort, now called Wellsville. More settlers began to arrive. By 1859 they had formed five more towns: Providence, Mendon, Logan, Richmond, and Smithfield.

The territorial legislature created a large Cache County in 1856. Eight years later, the legislators split off the eastern part of the county to form Richland (now Rich) County.

Economy and development

In early 1873, the Utah Northern Railroad between Brigham City and Logan was completed. Later, this railroad extended into Idaho and also connected to the transcontinental railroad. The presence of the railroad helped Cache residents to prosper. It provided jobs and also opened new markets for their crops, especially grain and dairy products.

By the 1880s, Cache County farmers were doing even better. They were using new dry-farming techniques and new techniques for building canals and reservoirs. They began to sell fruits and vegetables. New grain elevators built in the 1890s let them store their crops and wait for good prices before they sold.

Meanwhile, the county's sheep population exploded--from 10,000 in 1880 to 300,000 by 1900. Sheep owners made lots of money, but all those sheep eating and trampling vegetation damaged the valleys and canyons. Around this time the Forest Service began to regulate grazing.

By 1910, 16,000 dairy cows lived in the county. Commercial creameries, flour mills, woolen mills, and knitting factories developed around Cache's booming turn-of-the century farm production. Today, Cache continues as the state's leader in dairy products and as a major producer of hay, alfalfa, and grain.

historic building on fire

Utah State University's beautiful Old Main building burned in 1984. The university decided to restore it, and it is now the jewel of the campus.

In 1888 the founding of Utah State Agricultural College (now Utah State University) in Logan provided an important key to the county's future. USU's scientific research, agricultural extension services, and experimental farms have benefited farmers locally and in every part of the state.

With some 17,000 students currently enrolled, USU has grown to be the county's largest single employer—and a major cultural resource for the community.

Today, Cache County’s economy also includes manufacturing, retail trade, and services (including government services).