History of Hanksville, Utah

The region has always been sparsely populated. Small communities of several cultures of prehistoric peoples occupied the canyons and piedmont of the Henry Mountains. The first recorded Europeans to pass through the area were a party from the Powell Survey, led by A. H. Thompson, who crossed the mountains in 1872. In 1875, G. K. Gilbert, also part of the Powell Survey, was there for the first of two trips that resulted in his classic geological study. From the 1870s to about 1900 the Henry Mountains, along with the more famous Robbers Roost just across the Dirty Devil River, provided sanctuary for many outlaws of the time. Several settlements were established in the Henry Mountains in the 1880s. All were on the Fremont River, and all but one were guided and assisted by the Mormon Church. In the early 1890s the combined population was more than 550. Two catastrophic floods and an honorable release by the church in 1909 contributed to a population decline to less than 225 by 1920. Elijah Behunin and his family settled at the present site of Caineville on 28 November 1882. Groves Valley was established in 1883 at the present site of Hanksville. The name was changed when a post office was built in 1885. Blue Valley, later named Giles, was settled in 1883. Mesa, also known as Elephant, was founded three miles east of Caineville in 1887. About 1889 Clifton, also called Kitchentown, was settled at a site east of Blue Valley. Only Hanksville has survived to the present. Gold was discovered in 1890 but the resultant community of Eagle, on Crescent Creek, lasted only until 1900, when most of the mines failed. Ticaboo, a company town in the southern part of the study area, is a consequence of the uranium boom of the 1950s.

Tony R. Mollhagan, Ph.D.

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