early history is largely defined by a trail. The road through Echo Canyon taken by a series of immigrant groups, some famous for the disasters
that befell them, others for the success of their colonization efforts,
became the line that drew history in this mountainous canyon to the
northeast of the Salt Lake Valley. A number of communities sprang up
along the road: some were supply stations for the bands of travelers,
and others were permanent settlements of farmers anxious to try agriculture
in the Great Basin.
of one such settlement, Coalville, was chosen by chance. In the fall
of 1858 on a freight run between Salt Lake City and Fort Bridger, William
Henderson Smith stopped to camp near Chalk Creek. He noticed that wheat
that had fallen to the earth from earlier travelers' wagons had taken
root and ripened without any attention. He took samples of the wheat
with him into Salt Lake City and by the next spring had convinced two
other men, Andrew Williams and Leonard Phillips, to join with him in
the area's settlement. By April 1859 they were joined by Henry B. Wilde,
Joseph Stalling, and Thomas B. Franklin and their families.