Area: 2,014 square
miles; population: 263,590 (in 1990); county seat: Provo; origin of
county name: after the Ute Indians; principal cities and towns: Provo (86,835); Orem (67,561); American Fork (15,696); Springville (13,950); Pleasant Grove (13,476); Spanish Fork (11,272); Payson (9,510); Lehi (8,475); economy: steel industry, light manufacturing, agriculture;
points of interest: Fairfield Stagecoach Inn, historic downtown Provo, Brigham Young University (Monte L. Bean Life Sciences Museum, Museum
of People and Culture, Harris Fine Arts Center), Utah Lake, Timpanogos
Cave National Monument, Springville Museum of Art, Hutchings Museum
of Natural History in Lehi, McCurdy Historical Doll Museum in Provo, Bridal Veil Falls, Sundance ski resort.
The most striking
geographical features of Utah County are the Wasatch Mountains along
the eastern boundary, and Utah Lake, the state's largest fresh-water
lake. The high mountains, rising over 11,000 feet, receive heavy snowfall
which feeds the numerous rivers and creeks that flow into the lake.
Though large in surface area, Utah Lake is very shallow--18 feet at
its deepest point.
Before the valley
was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1840s and 1850s it was the home
of the Ute Indians. They lived along the eastern shore of the lake and
used fish from the lake as their main food source. These Indians were
described as peaceful and kind by the Spanish Catholic priests Dominguez
and Escalante, who observed them in 1776. Dominguez and Escalante were
trying to find a route between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and what is now
southern California. When they came down Spanish Fork Canyon in the
summer of 1776 they were the first non-Indians to enter Utah Valley.