began settling Utah Valley in 1849. Like the Indians before them, they
chose to settle on the fertile, well-watered strip of land between the
mountains and Utah Lake. More than a dozen towns were established between
Lehi on the north and Santaquin on the south. Provo, named for the French
fur trapper Etienne Provost, has always been the largest town and the
In March 1849
thirty-three families, composed of about 150 people, were called to
go to Utah Valley under the leadership of John S. Higbee to fish, farm,
and teach the Indians. During the next two years - 1850 and 1851 - communities
were established at Lehi, Alpine, American Fork, Pleasant Grove, Springville,
Spanish Fork, Salem, and Payson.
Farming was the
most important early industry in the county, with fruit growing and
the processing of sugar beets being especially important. The first
large-scale sugar beet factory in Utah was built in Lehi in 1890. In
recent years, the center of the fruit industry in the county has shifted
from Orem to the south end of the valley, where orchards are not threatened
by housing developments.
Mining was also
an important industry in Utah County. In the late 1800s and early 1900s
there were many successful mines in American Fork Canyon and in the
Tintic mining district centered near Eureka, Juab County but included
part of western Utah County. Many of the fine homes and business buildings
in Provo were constructed with mining money.