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.
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.