This idea was hard to accept at the time, and it was just as difficult to imagine how irrigation water could be obtained from the mountain. But a half-dozen people believed, marked out the route of a canal from Johnson Creek, and then went to work to make it a reality. The LDS Church called many of these men on missions, but by 1903 they had returned and completed their work. By April 1905 Albert R. Lyman, Walter's nephew, had pitched his tent amid the sagebrush in the newly surveyed town. By July, five other families were established and the town had started its climb in population.
First known as Grayson (after Nellie Grayson Lyman, wife of Joseph), the town changed its name in 1914 when a wealthy easterner, Thomas F. Bicknell, offered a thousand-volume library to any Utah town that would adopt his name. Grayson vied with Thurber (now Bicknell) for the prize; the two towns split the books and Grayson assumed Bicknell's wife's maiden name - Blanding. However, the people of Blanding were somewhat disgruntled to find that many of the books they received were of poor quality.