Area: 1,476 square
miles; population: 20,228 (in 1990); county seat: Price; origin of county
name: from the vast amounts of coal found there; principal cities/towns:
Price (8,712), Helper (2,148), Wellington (1,632), East Carbon (1,270), Sunnyside (339); economy: coal mining, transportation
(railroad), energy; points of interest: Helper Historic District, Scofield
Reservoir, Price Canyon recreation area, Western Mining and Railroad
Museum (Helper), College
of Eastern Utah Prehistoric
Museum (Price), Nine Mile Canyon.
In 1894 the territorial
legislature created Carbon County from a portion of Emery
County. Most of the county's residents live in the Price River Valley
and at the foot of the Book Cliffs. The western end of the county rises
to the Wasatch Plateau and slopes down eastward to the Price River,
which cuts through Castle Valley. This valley stretches across the southern
half of Carbon County and continues into Emery County, with the Wasatch
Plateau and Range on the north and west and the Book Cliffs all along
the east. The Green River marks the eastern border of the county. Geographically,
Carbon County is in the Colorado Plateau physiographic province.
Evidence of the Fremont Culture is extensive in the
county. Figurines have been discovered as have many rock art panels,
such as the "Head Hunter," located in the Gordon Creek area. Evidence
of prehistoric life includes many dinosaur footprints found in the coal
Mormon settlements were established all along the Price River in the late 1870s.
The high barrier of the Wasatch
Range and Plateau had delayed settlement until that time. Routes
into the region included offshoots of the Old Spanish Trail and a trail
over Soldier Summit. Farming and ranching became early economic activities,
giving Carbon County a tradition of cowboys and outlaws, with the likes
of Butch Cassidy and "Gunplay" Maxwell
roaming the area. The Nine Mile Canyon freight road from Price to the
Unita Basin became an important transportation link.