Area: 1,034 square
miles; population: 1,725 (in 1990); county seat: Randolph;
origin of 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; principal cities/towns:
Randolph (488), Laketown (261), Garden
City (193); economy: agriculture, cattle, sheep, recreation; points
of interest: Bear
Lake State Park, Rendezvous Beach State Park, Randolph LDS Tabernacle.
located in the upper northeastern corner of Utah, occupies a long, narrow
area approximately eighteen miles wide and fifty-six miles long, extending
north of Echo Canyon. It is bordered on the east by Wyoming, on the
north by Idaho (with the southern half of Bear Lake extending into the
county), on the west by several Utah counties and the Wasatch
National Forest, and on the south by Summit
visited the Bear Lake
Valley as early as 1811 when Joseph Miller reportedly discovered
River. The area around the Bear River became a favorite spot for
trappers, and the annual trappers' rendezvous was held on the south
shore of Bear Lake in 1827 and in 1828. The Oregon Trail 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 permanent white settler in the area was Thomas L. "Peg Leg"
Smith, who operated a cattle business along with a trading post and
horse exchange for Indians and Oregon Trail
immigrants on the Bear River where Dingle, Idaho, is located today. Brigham Young unsuccessfully attempted
to purchase his business in 1848, but Smith remained in the area until
1863 when he became discouraged and left.