The first white
men to enter the present area of Grand County were Spanish explorers
who discovered a crossing of the Colorado River at the site of the present
highway bridge at Moab. Later Spanish traders and American fur trappers
developed the route known as the Spanish Trail, of which that crossing
and another ford across the Green River above the site of the present
Emery County town of that name were a part.
The first attempt
by Mormon colonists to settle the Moab area was a failure. The Elk Mountain
Mission reached Moab Valley in 1855 and established a small community,
but the Indians who were already farming the fertile Colorado River
bottoms regarded them as competition and drove them out after they had
been there only a few weeks. Not until the late 1870s and the 1880s
did a few Mormon families find it possible to build permanent homes
in the area.