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History of the Uinta Basin, Utah
Taken from the Utah History Encyclopedia (Links Added)
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The Uinta Basin has been susceptible to frequent economic boom-bust cycles. For the most part these have been connected with the discovery or development of various natural resources coupled with national and international economic conditions. The first of these cycles was the rush for fur-bearing animals in the 1820s to 1840s. This was followed by the discovery of Gilsonite and other asphaltums. A railroad line was planned but never fully materialized. The third boom-bust cycle was the opening of the two reservations which increased the white population sufficiently that Duchesne County was carved out of Wasatch County. Commercial oil production was begun 1948 but was not fully exploited until the 1970s with increased the price of crude oil. This in turn spurred private and public ventures to develop an inexpensive process for separating oil from oil shale and tar sands. Shortage of housing, increased school enrollments, and a vigorous economic activity was experienced in the 1970s because of this oil activity. However, in 1980 international oil prices began to fall. Correspondingly the economic health of the Uinta Basin fell sharply. The development of water resources for the Wasatch Front has been yet another economic stimulus but this, too, has been only temporary.

There is little that remains in the Uinta Basin from these economic flourishes. What does remain is a small population base of whites and Indians supported by a fragile economy based on agriculture and some tourism. The Uinta Basin continues to remain in the shadows of the Wasatch Mountains and the Wasatch Front.

Craig Fuller

See: G. E. and Billie R. Untermann Guide to Dinosaur Land and the Unique Uinta Country (1972); W. R. Hansen, The Geologic Story of the Uinta Mountains (1969); J. W. Powell The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons (1961); David Lavender Colorado River Country (1982); Charles Kelley, editor, "Journal of W. C. Powell," Utah Historical Quarterly (1948-49); Dale L. Morgan "The Exploration of the Colorado River in 1869," Utah Historical Quarterly (1947); Tamarack: Stories of the Uintah Basin (1976); and G. E. Untermann, Geology of Dinosaur National Monument and Vicinity, Utah-Colorado (1954).

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