History of Vernal, Utah
Taken from the Utah History Encyclopedia (Links Added)
On 29 September 1879 the Meeker Massacre occurred in Colorado, with the White River Utes killing their agent, Nathan Meeker, among others. Renegade Utes then rode to Ashley Valley to convince the Uintah Utes to join them in killing all the white people in the area. Instead, the Uintah chiefs advised the settlers to "fort-up." A fort was built on the Bench due to its open expanse. Many settlers of Ashley Valley took their cabins apart, moving them to the fort site. The incident was settled, but the people remained in the fort that winter. The winter was severe, killing most of the animals. The humans also suffered. Much of their grain had been gathered from the ground, since grasshoppers had knocked it from the plant stocks; it became moldy. Diphtheria took its toll. It was March before they could get out of the valley for supplies.

Many families moved their cabins back to their homesteads, others remained in the fort. A town grew out of the fort and became known as Ashley Center. A store was opened and the residents applied for a post office. The name Ashley Center was requested, but it was too similar to the town of Ashley; therefore, the name Vernal was assigned to the community by the U.S. Postal Department.

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