Johnson led settlers to Springville in 1850. Mormon settlers displaced
Native Americans and relegated them to an "Indian Farm," located on
poor ground, unfit for farming, at the mouth of the Spanish Fork River near the Utah
Lake. Mormon settlers developed subsistence farming for fewer families
than was hoped, due to lack of water. Some Springville farmers turned
to hauling freight from California twice a year. Following the Civil
War in 1865, other farmers turned to raising cattle and sheep. Completion
of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 made rail shipment of stock
to market possible, so stockmen used more intensive grazing practices.
The railroad also helped make mining products profitable, and many mines
started to be developed. Beginning in 1878, Springville merchant Milan
Packard built a railroad to bring coal from Scofield to Utah Valley.
The Rio Grande Railroad bought out the line in 1882.
the Native Americans before them, Springville stockmen lived in the
valley during the winter and grazed their animals in the mountains in
summer. Valley precipitation is generally low, six to twelve inches
per year. Above 6,000 feet elevation, precipitation in the mountains
is 20 inches to 30 inches annually. Most of the water comes in the form
of winter snow. Stockmen over-used grazing resources. The stock consumed
most of the grass from the hillsides, leaving surfaces unprotected from
summer cloudbursts and spring runoff. The resulting floods and mud flows
nearly caused abandonment of some rural communities.