In 1861 Brigham
Young sent a small party to explore the basin for possible settlement.
They reported "that all that section of country lying between the Wasatch
Mountains and the eastern boundary of the territory, and south of Green
River country, was one vast contiguity of waste and measurably valueless."
With this report, Young decided not to send settlers there.
That same year,
President Abraham Lincoln created the Uintah Indian Reservation, thus
beginning the relocation of many Utah and Colorado Indians to the Uinta
Basin. In the 1880s the Uncompahgre Reservation (now part of the Uintah
and Ouray Reservation) was created in the southern portion of Uintah
County. Ashley Valley was not part of either reservation, and by 1880
enough ranchers and farmers had settled there that the territorial legislature
created Uintah County, taking most of the land from Wasatch
County. The county seat, originally in Ashley, was later moved to
the larger community of Vernal. With the building of irrigation canals
other towns were founded, including Jensen, Maeser, and Tridell.