Torrey, Utah is full of rich Native American and Mormon history.

History of Torrey

One of the gateways to Capitol Reef National Park and other parks in the area.

Discover the history of Torrey, UT, a town founded by settlers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1880s. Originally known as Youngtown, it was later named after Jay L. Torrey, a member of the Wyoming legislature who gained national attention for his role in creating three volunteer cavalry regiments during the Spanish-American War. Don't miss the chance to learn about Torrey's fascinating past, including Torrey's commission as colonel of the "Rocky Mountain Riders" regiment.

The town of Torrey was founded in the 1880s by settlers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as Mormons. The group first arrived in Utah in 1847 and began to settle down across the state. In 1880, a group led by Pardon B. Davis settled in what is now Capitol Reef National Park, near the Fremont River. An agreement was made between the local Paiute tribes and Davis' group that allowed them to purchase land in the area, which would become known as Youngtown.

Native American History

Though much of the area's native population had been displaced by the settlers, there is evidence that some Paiute tribes continued to live in and around Torrey. These tribes left behind petroglyphs and artifacts that can still be seen today in the Capitol Reef area. The Paiutes also had a strong presence in the nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument; as late as the 1960s, local Paiute families were living in Escalante and near Torrey.

Mormon History

The first settlers at Torrey were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They established a small community with a few stores, a church and a schoolhouse. Over time, the town grew to include more than 300 inhabitants. In 1882, Youngtown was officially renamed Torrey in honor of Jay L. Torrey, an attorney from Wyoming who had gained national recognition for his role in creating three volunteer cavalry regiments during the Spanish-American War.

Torrey was a typical Mormon settlement, with the church and its teachings at the center of life for many of its citizens. In the late 1800s, the town was an important stop on the Pony Express route between Salt Lake City and St. George. The residents were mostly farmers who grew wheat, corn and other grains to support their families. Many also raised cattle, sheep and other livestock.

The 20th Century and Beyond

As the population of Torrey grew, so did its infrastructure. In 1910, a post office was established, and the town continued to thrive in the years leading up to World War I. In 1920, an electricity company opened in Torrey, providing power to the area for the first time. The town also began to draw more tourists, who were drawn by its rugged beauty and its proximity to the national park.

The Great Depression had a significant impact on Torrey, as it did on many farming communities in the region. Many of the town’s residents were forced to leave or move away in search of work. By 1940, the population had dwindled to just 176 people.

In recent years, Torrey has seen a resurgence in popularity as visitors flock to Capitol Reef National Park and surrounding areas. The town now boasts more than 200 permanent inhabitants and a growing tourist industry. It has become a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts, as it is close to several trails, campgrounds and recreational areas. Despite its small size, Torrey remains an important part of Utah’s history and culture. Visitors can take in the town’s old buildings and learn more about its past by visiting the local museum or talking with the friendly locals. Torrey is an excellent place to explore and discover the unique history of the region.


Today, Torrey continues to be a thriving rural community. It remains popular with tourists, who come to explore the nearby national park or take advantage of the area's outdoor recreation opportunities. Despite its small population, Torrey still has a post office, several restaurants, stores and the annual Torrey Pioneer Days celebration.

Torrey is a fascinating place with a rich history that spans more than 130 years. From its early settlement by Mormon pioneers to its present-day popularity as a tourist destination, Torrey has something for everyone. So come and explore this small Utah town and experience its unique history for yourself!