other settlements in Utah, Ashley Valley was not a "called" by Mormon leaders to be settled. Beginning in the early 1870s, Mormon ranchers
and other whites from the Indian Reservation began filtering into Ashley
Valley, which first served as excellent summer feeding grounds for herds
of cattle. By 1880 there was a permanent population sufficiently large
enough for Uintah County to be established by the territorial legislature.
a decade Gilsonite and other asphaltum minerals were discovered in Uintah
County as well as on the eastern edges of both Indian reservations.
National and local pressure soon mounted to have the two Indian Reservations
opened to white development. However, it was not until the passage of
the Dawes Act of 1887 that there was federal means were established
to have both Uinta Basin Indian reservations opened. By 1898, following
an effective campaign by national and local mining interests, the Uncompahgre
Indian Reservation was thrown open to miners and settlers. The Uintah
Reservation followed in the summer of 1905, after allotments of 160
acres were made to each adult male married Indian, (lesser amounts were
allotted to single males, single women and orphaned Indian children).
In August of 1905 thousands of potential homesteaders rushed to Grand
Junction, Colorado, and to Vernal, Price, and Provo, Utah, to register
for the land drawing which was held at the end of the month in Provo.
Only a fraction of registrants actually took up homesteads and many
of those eventually gave up on their efforts to secure cheap farmland.
A sizeable portion of Strawberry Valley was reserved for reclamation
purposes. Additional lands were added to Ashley and Wasatch National
Forests. And some lands located along the foothills of the south flank
of the Uintas were reserved for Indian grazing grounds.