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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.

Rich County, Utah

Rich County Education, Geography, and History

Rich County, Utah Courthouse

Rich County is a county located in the state of Utah. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 2,264, making it the third-least populous county in Utah. Its county seat is Randolph, and the largest town is Garden City. The county was created in 1864. It was named for an early LDS apostle, Charles C. Rich.

Etymology - Origin of Rich County Name

Two versions exist-(1) named for the fertility of the Bear River Valley (the county was first called Richland), (2) named for Charles C. Rich, a Mormon apostle, instrumental in the settlement of the Bear Lake area


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Rich County History

Rich County in the northeast corner of Utah occupies a long, narrow area approximately 18 miles wide and 56 miles in length, extending north of Echo Canyon. It is bordered on the east by Wyoming and on the north by Idaho with the southern half of Bear Lake extending into the county. Rich is noted for a so-called buffalo jump kill site where game was slaughtered by Early Man.

Fur trappers visited the Bear River Valley as early as Donald Mackenzie's first Snake River expedition of 1818-19 when Michel Bourdon gave the Bear River its name. The area around the Bear River became a favorite spot for trappers, and trappers' rendezvous were held on the south shore of Bear Lake in 1827 and 1828. The Oregon Trail over which thousands of immigrants to the Northwest traveled cut through a corner of the county. Dr. Marcus Whitman and his wife, Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, the famous Oregon pioneers, traveled on this trail in 1836. The first white settler in the area, Thomas L. "Peg Leg" Smith, operated a cattle business, trading post, and horse exchange on the Bear River near present Dingle, Idaho. Brigham Young unsuccessfully attempted to purchase his business in 1848, but Smith remained in the area until 1863 then he became discouraged and left.When Congress passed the Homestead Act of 1862, Brigham Young became anxious to obtain control of the land before non-Mormons did. In August 1863 he called Charles C. Rich to lead an exploring party into the Bear Lake Valley to select a site for settlement. The fist settlement, known as North Twin Creek and later Paris Creek, was made near present Paris, Idaho. Since Bannock and Shoshone lndians also used the valley, Rich obtained their permission to settle there in order to minimize conflicts. Other settlements were founded, including Round Valley in 1863; Kennedyville (Garden City) and Laketown, 1864; Woodruff, 1865; Randolph, 1870; and Argyle, 1875.Originally part of Green River County, which was formed in 1852, it became Richland County in 1864; the name was shortened to Rich in 1868, and a final alteration occurred in 1872 when part of Cache County was added to it by the territorial legislature.Harsh winters affected the settlement of the Bear Lake Valley. Woodruff averages only 57 frost-free days a year and holds the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in the state (-50 F. degrees on February 6, 1899).Even though much of Rich County is highland, it also has fertile lowlands that support productive farms and livestock, and three fourths of the county's land is used for agriculture, primarily grazing. livestock and livestock products account for the greater part of the county's income. The development of Bear Lake as a popular recreation area with resorts, public beaches, and summer homes has helped to diversify Rich County's economy.

*Sources: Beehive History 14: Utah Counties. 1988. Utah State Historical Society, 300 Rio Grande, Salt Lake City, UT 84101-1182.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,086 square miles (2,813 km2), of which, 1,029 square miles (2,664 km2) of it is land and 58 square miles (150 km2) of it (5.32%) is water.

The Bear River Valley is created by the Bear River and consists of the east-central portion of the county. The towns of Randolph and Woodruff lie in this farming-oriented valley. Its high elevation makes this region one of the coldest areas in the state. Woodruff has a record low of −50 0F (−45.6 0C) and temperatures rarely exceed 90 0F (32 0C) during the summer. Snow is heavy in late autumn, winter, and early spring and remains on the ground for the entire winter.

Further to the north lies the southern half of Bear Lake Valley, which contains Bear Lake. This lake is famous for its deep blue water, beaches, and surrounding mountains. The Bear River Mountains lie along the western edge of the county, and Logan Canyon opens up to the west of Garden City, which is a quaint tourist town that lies on the western edge of Bear Lake. Laketown lies at the southern edge of the lake. Three sections of the coastline are protected by Bear Lake State Park. The eastern slopes of the Bear River Range is an increasingly popular location for cabins.

In both of these major valleys, temperature inversions are a major problem during winter. These temperature inversions can bring extremely cold temperatures, fog, smog, and haze to the valleys, sometimes for more than two weeks at a time.

Rich County is bordered by Cache County to the west, Weber and Morgan counties to the southwest, Summit County to the south, Uinta County, Wyoming to the southeast, Lincoln County, Wyoming to the northeast, and Bear Lake County, Idaho to the north.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Bear Lake County, ID to the north
  • Cache County, UT to the west
  • Franklin County, ID to the northwest
  • Lincoln County, WY to the east
  • Morgan County, UT to the southwest
  • Summit County, UT to the south
  • Uinta County, WY to the east
  • Weber County, UT to the southwest


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