In 1776 the Dominguez-Escalante expedition crossed the county from north to south at the eastern end,
passing near present Nephi. Jedediah Smith traversed the western end
of the county in 1826 and via Fish Springs in 1827. In 1843-44 John
C. Frémont journeyed through the county's eastern end en route north.
Government explorers John W. Gunnison and J.H. Simpson traveled in the
area in 1853 and 1859, respectively. Gunnison touched the extreme southeast
portion of the county while Simpson pioneered the route later used by
the Pony Express and the transcontinental telegraph.
In 1852 the legislative
assembly created Juab County, which extended as a narrow strip to what
was then the western boundary of Utah Territory (now the western boundary
of Nevada). The western portion was removed in 1854 to form part of
Summit County, Nevada, and several other changes in Juab's borders have
been made over the years.
The first settlement
in Juab Valley occurred in 1851 when a group of Mormon settlers arrived
near Salt Creek, at present-day Nephi. Their
economy was based primarily on agriculture.