Vernal, Utah is a city located in northeastern Utah and was settled by Mormon pioneers in the late 1800s. The first settlers were led by James A. Hendrickson, who formed the settlement around 1879.
Vernal grew steadily over the next few decades and by 1900, it had a population of 312. A railroad depot was built in 1906 and that same year saw the incorporation of Vernal as a city. This allowed the city to begin constructing its first public facilities, including a post office, hotel, and school.
Prior to the arrival of settlers, the Ute Indians had lived in the area now known as Vernal for centuries. The Utes were a nomadic tribe that moved around depending on the availability of food and water sources.
The US government eventually removed the Utes from their lands in 1881 and relocated to reservations in Utah and Colorado. In the late 19th century, some Ute families returned to their land and settled in Vernal, establishing a community known as Ashley Valley or "The Indian Reservation".
Today, the Uintah-Ouray Indian Reservation in northeastern Utah continues to be home to several Ute tribes, including the Northern Utes, Southern Utes, and Uncompahgre Utes.
Discover the unique history of Vernal, a town in Utah that stands apart from the rest. Unlike other towns settled by Mormon pioneers, Vernal's origins date back to a scouting party sent by Brigham Young in 1861. Initially, the area was dismissed as suitable only for nomadic purposes and hunting grounds for Indians. However, President Abraham Lincoln recognized its value and established the Uintah Indian Reservation that same year. Captain Pardon Dodds was appointed as the Indian agent for this reservation, making Vernal a place rich in cultural significance and untold stories.
The fascinating history of this now-thriving area started in June 1878 when the David Johnston family moved onto the Bench, a barren cactus flat. With his children's safety in mind, David cleared the cacti and propped his wagon on logs to avoid ground-dwelling creatures. The arrival of Alva Hatch and his family, along with his father's two wives, Jeremiah Hatch, in May 1978, marked the beginning of an influx of settlers to the valley the following fall.
Vernal, a town set up by the LDS Church in 1884, didn't become a city until 1897. The unique aspect of Vernal was that it remained tax-free for 15 years. However, in 1948, Vernal witnessed its first oil boom which turned it into a boom and bust town. Despite the instability, Vernal has managed to sustain itself through a thriving tourist business at Dinosaur National Monument, wildlife rearing, and agriculture production.
Flaming Gorge History
Breathtaking Flaming Gorge was originally inhabited by the Ute Native American tribe who named it after the striking red cliffs. Thanks to dedicated conservation efforts by state and federal agencies, this natural wonder remains preserved for all to enjoy. Major John Wesley Powell first surveyed the area in 1869, but a group of Inuit hunters coined the name "Flaming Gorge" after witnessing the sun's vibrant display of red and orange hues on the cliffs. Prepare to be mesmerized by the stunning rock formations that resulted from this phenomenon.
In 1958, the damming of the Green River created the reservoir known as Flaming Gorge Reservoir, which provides a valuable source of water for cities such as Vernal. You can explore this awe-inspiring landscape by boat, where you'll be able to spot different types of wildlife and fish that call these waters home. Boating is also an excellent way to access the numerous trails that are found throughout the region.
Today, Vernal is a thriving and vibrant city with a unique history of its own. From Native American tribes to Mormon pioneers to the construction of Flaming Gorge Reservoir, this area has seen its fair share of changes over the years while remaining true to its roots and offering visitors a meaningful look into Utah's past. In addition to its incredible history, Vernal is home to various outdoor activities and attractions, making it a great place to explore in the summer months. From fishing and camping at Flaming Gorge to taking a hike through Ashley National Forest, there are plenty of ways to experience this region's beauty and charm.