Nephi is located
at the mouth of Salt Creek Canyon; the north peak of Mount Nebo is to
the northeast and the Red Cliffs are to the southeast. The city covers
an area of approximately four square miles.
As with most
settlements in Utah, Nephi's founders were Mormons, and the name of
the town came from the Book of Mormon. In the summer of 1851 Joseph
L. Haywood and Jesse W. Fox, the territorial surveyor, were instructed
by church leaders to lay out the town of Salt Creek, so named for the
local salty stream. Haywood served as civic and spiritual leader in
the area for three years. The settlers immediately began to clear ground
and build homes. They also started schools for their children. Nephi
boasted the third high school (and the first rural one) in the state
in 1894. In 1879 a Presbyterian school was opened and later a Methodist school.