The Oquirrh Mountains lie on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley, extending north and south about thirty miles. The highest elevation is Lewiston Peak at 10,676 feet. Communities located on the eastern slope include Magna, Copperton, and Cedar Fort; and on the west slope Tooele, Stockton, and Ophir. The name Oquirrh (pronounced O-Ker) was taken from the Goshute Indian word meaning "wooded mountain." Early visits to these mountains were undertaken by the Indians, mountain men, government explorers, and Mormon pioneers. They encountered heavily forested canyons with large maple trees, scrub oak, and red pine with trunks as large as three feet in diameter.
The first attempt to settle in the Oquirrhs occurred in 1848. At that time two Mormon pioneer brothers, Thomas and Sanford Bingham, set up camp at the mouth of Bingham Canyon. They had been sent to the area by Brigham Young, who had requested that they take a herd of horses and cattle belonging to himself, the Bingham family, and others, up to the high land around the main canyon. For the next year or so, the Bingham brothers spent their time in what became known as Bingham Canyon, herding cattle and, to a limited degree, prospecting for valuable minerals. Some ores were found, but the brothers were advised by Brigham Young not to engage in mining at that time. The ore finds were soon forgotten after 1850 when the Binghams left on a mission to settle Weber County. For the next decade, the Oquirrhs continued to be used as a grazing ground as well as a valuable source of timber for the Mormons.