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Juab County

Juab County

Quick facts
Cool facts
What the land is like
Some prehistory
Some history
The economy today

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Quick facts

Area: 3,412 square miles 
Population 
County Seat: Nephi 
How it got its name: from the Ute word meaning flat or level plain 
Main cities and towns: Nephi, Eureka, Mona, Levan, 
Economy: manufacturing, mining, recreation 
Interesting places: Historic Tintic Mining District, Little Sahara Recreation Area, Old Pony Express and Stage Route, Yuba Reservoir, Goshute Indian Reservation, Tintic Mining Museum, Mount Nebo Wilderness Area, Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge

Cool facts

historic photo

The hoisting system at the Colorado Mining Company terminal in the Tintic Mining District, 1908

What is the land like?

historic photo

Threshing wheat in the early 1900s on a dry farm near Nephi

Juab County is a part of the Basin and Range physiographic province. Most of its fertile farming land lies in the Juab Valley near Nephi at the base of Mount Nebo (11,877 feet).

Also in the east of the county is the rich Tintic mining district and the rolling sand dunes of Little Sahara Recreation Area.

Broad semi-arid valleys and low desert mountains fill the western part of the county. Moving from east to west, Juab’s mountain ranges are: the Wasatch, the East Tintic Range, West Tintic Range, Thomas Range (Topaz Mountain, 7,113 feet), Fish Springs Range, and the southern tip of the Deep Creek Range.

Some prehistory

Archaic Period sites have been found in Juab County. The Archaic people often lived near marshes like Fish Springs, where they could find plenty of animals and plants to use for food, clothing, and shelter.

Later, Fremont people found good places to settle in the Juab area. Many settled near the present town of Nephi. North of town, 30 mounds of different heights and diameter show where some of them lived and farmed.

The University of Utah excavated the mounds in 1965 and found evidence of many dwellings. Most of these were made of adobe. They also found pottery, food scraps, smoking pipes, figurines, stone tools, fire pits, and more. The Nephi Mounds site became one of the Great Basin’s most important archaeological sites.

Goshute Indians, who didn't farm but instead hunted and gathered their food, lived on the land later. They successfully lived on the desert's scarce resources until Euro-Americans began coming through and settling.

Some history

drawing of station

The Pony Express station at Willow Springs, near Callao (by Francis L. Horspool)

Contact with “white” people

The newcomers took over some resources and ruined others. The Goshutes, unhappy with this situation, Goshutes attacked mail stations and raided and stole from the newcomers. inally, they signed a treaty agreeing to stop their fighting.

They received a reservation--though much smaller than their traditional lands--within those lands.

Early explorers through the county included the Dominguez-Escalante expedition, Jedediah Smith, John C. Fremont, John Gunnison, and J. H. Simpson. John C. Fremont journeyed through the county's eastern end on his way north. In 1859 Simpson located the route later used by the Pony Express and transcontinental telegraph.

Settlers and miners

historic photo

The George C. Whitmore home in Nephi. A thriving livestock and distribution center in the early 20th century, Nephi was sometimes called Little Chicago.

The first settlement in Juab Valley occurred in 1851 when a group of Mormon settlers arrived near Salt Creek to live by farming. This settlement became present-day Nephi.

In 1869 prospectors discovered precious metals in the Tintic region. The finds changed the economic and industrial destiny of Juab County. The towns of Diamond, Silver City, Mammoth, and especially Eureka became the main areas of the Tintic Mining District. By 1899, Tintic had become one of country's most important mining districts.

From 1870 to 1899 Tintic produced about 35 million dollars in mineral wealth. The metals in Tintic consisted of silver, gold, copper, lead, zinc, and some uranium at Topaz Mountain.

The economy today

Mining continued through the 1950s, and even today some mining operations continue on a small scale. In recent years several small manufacturing firms have helped to diversify Juab's economy.

Recreation at the White Sand Dunes at Little Sahara Recreation Area remains very popular, attracting tourists and visitors to western Juab.

historic photo

Telephone service truck and crew at Eureka, in 1921.