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Utah Counties
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Utah Counties

There are twenty-nine counties in the State of Utah. There were originally seven counties established under the provisional State of Deseret in 1849: Davis, Iron, Sanpete, Salt Lake, Tooele, Utah, and Weber. The Territory of Utah was created in 1851 with the first territorial legislature meeting from 1851-1852. The first legislature re-created the original counties from the State of Deseret under territorial law as well as establishing three additional counties: Juab, Millard, and Washington. All other counties were established between 1854 and 1894 by the Utah Territorial Legislature under territorial law except for the last two counties formed, Daggett and Duchesne.

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Utah Counties: History and Information

Find a brief history of Utah CountiesBrief history of Utah Counties: Flags of Our Nation

In 1850 the Utah Territorial Legislature created six small counties. Each contained an area of early white settlement. County borders and names were changed about 100 times before the creation of Daggett County in 1917 gave Utah its present 29 counties.

Counties are units of local government, but state laws define their form and powers. Three-member county commissions govern 28 of Utah's counties. In 1987 Cache County changed to another form of government allowed under state law and is now run by an executive officer and a seven-member council. The commission or council must hold regular meetings, open to the public, at the county seat. Other elected officials usually include county clerk, treasurer, attorney, recorder, assessor, auditor, surveyor, and sheriff. In the early settlement period, county and town officials were often LDS church leaders.

Counties may do many things. Like all units of government they raise money to operate by taxes, fees and licenses, fines, and when approved by the voters, bonds. Counties may license and regulate local businesses, zone property and plan development, build and maintain roads, and build and operate a variety of facilities including schools, libraries, jails, hospitals, fire departments, senior citizen centers, airports, golf courses, parks, zoos, and planetariums. Counties issue marriage licenses and record property ownership. They may also provide such services as water, waste disposal, electric power, flood control, welfare, and animal control.

Probate courts operated in each county until statehood and from 1852 to 1874, when federal law banned the practice, they often heard civil and criminal cases as well as probate matters (wills and estates).

In 1896 the new state constitution created seven multi-county judicial districts. A district court must meet at least three times a year in each county seat within the district. Counties also have justice-of-the-peace courts where cases involving violations of county ordinances are heard.

About three-fourths of Utah's land is owned by federal, state, or local government. This has profoundly affected the development of almost every county. Government is the leading employer in two-thirds of Utah's counties and number two or three in others. In the early 1970s Utah's counties formed voluntary, multi-county associations of government. Seven such regional associations presently operate in Utah to deal with planning issues and problems that transcend county boundaries, especially in the areas of health, social services, and economic development.

County history information comes from Beehive History 14, 1988, published by the Utah State Historical Society, and Utah History Encyclopedia, 1994, published by University of Utah Press.

Find a brief history of Utah Counties
County 2000
County Seat Created
Beaver County 6,005 2,590 Beaver 1856
Box Elder County 42,745 5,724 Brigham City 1856
Cache County 91,391 1,165 Logan 1857
Carbon County 20,422 1,479 Price 1894
Daggett County 921 698 Manila 1919
Davis County 238,994 304 Farmington 1850
Duchesne County 14,371 3,238 Duchesne 1913
Emery County 10,860 4,452 Castle Dale 1880
Garfield County 4,735 5,174 Panguitch 1882
Grand County 8,485 3,682 Moab 1890
Iron County 33,779 3,298 Parowan 1850
Juab County 8,238 3,392 Nephi 1852
Kane County 6,046 3,992 Kanab 1864
Millard County 12,405 6,590 Fillmore 1851
Morgan County 7,129 609 Morgan 1862
Piute County 1,435 758 Junction 1865
Rich County 1,961 1,029 Randolph 1864
Salt Lake County 898,387 737 Salt Lake City 1849
San Juan County 14,413 7,821 Monticello 1880
Sanpete County 22,763 1,588 Manti 1849
Sevier County 18,842 1,910 Richfield 1865
Summit County 29,736 1,871 Coalville 1854
Tooele County 40,735 6,946 Tooele 1849
Uintah County 25,224 4,477 Vernal 1880
Utah County 368,536 1,998 Provo 1849
Wasatch County 15,215 1,181 Heber City 1862
Washington County 90,354 2,427 St. George 1852
Wayne County 2,509 2,460 Loa 1892
Weber County 196,533 576 Ogden 1849
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