In 1880 a mile-square townsite was surveyed on the Prickly Pear Flat, a bench south and west of the creek. The first structure erected on the new townsite was a 40-foot by 60-foot log meetinghouse, which was completed in time for an all-night New Year's Eve party on 31 December 1880. Most of the townsite was without water until the completion of the Huntington Canal in 1882. Settlers drew town lots and built homes in town as they proved up on their homesteads. The first homes, some of which were still occupied until recent years, were typically of sawed log or plank construction or of adobe sheathed with lumber. The erection of a new LDS meetinghouse in 1896 inaugurated a twenty-year building boom that saw the completion of many brick homes, schools, and commercial buildings.
Huntington's early economic base was agriculture and stockraising. Alfalfa seed was an important cash crop at the turn of the century, and honey produced by local apiarist Christian Ottesen won first prize at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1903. For most of its history, however, Huntington has drawn its main income from coal mining. Small "wagon mines" in Huntington Canyon provided limited employment. The coal camp of Mohrland, eight miles to the north, active from about 1909 to 1938, was virtually an extension of Huntington, with many residents dividing the year between the mine and the farm. With the coming of better highways in the 1940s and 1950s, many miners commuted daily from Huntington to Hiawatha and other Carbon County mines.