is located in the central portion of the Uinta Basin, which extends
sixty miles into western Colorado. The northern rim of the basin is
formed by the Uinta Mountains, the western rim by the Wasatch
Mountains, and the southern rim by the Roan and Book cliffs. The
basin is the geological remains of prehistoric Uinta Lake, formed during
the late Tertiary period, the same period when sediment was deposited
in the lake bottom to form gilsonite, oil shale, tar sands, and oil.
Ashley Creek and the White, Uinta, and Green rivers are the major streams
in the county. The Green, the largest of the four, slices through the
central portion of the county.
sites suggest that the Uinta Basin was inhabited thousands of years
ago by Archaic and more recently by Fremont
peoples. In historic times it was part of the Utes'
domain. The first white men in the area were Fathers
Dominguez and Escalante who traveled through the Uinta Basin in
1776 searching for a land route to Monterey, California. In his diary
Escalante called the basin "a fine plain abounding in pasturage and
fertile, arable land, provided it were irrigated." Nearly fifty years
later American and French trappers found the Basin rich in beaver and
other wildlife. In 1831-32 Antoine Robidoux, a French trapper licensed
by the Mexican government (Utah was part of Mexico until 1848), built
a small trading post near present-day Whiterocks where trappers could
trade beaver pelts for supplies. The post was abandoned in 1844 because
of difficulties with the Indians.