Native American History
The Fremont Indians were the first residents of the area. They used stone tools, crafted pottery and constructed earthen dwellings known as pithouses. They lived in small villages scattered throughout the region, and their artwork is still visible on rocks and cliffs in the park today. The Fremont Indians relied heavily on hunting, fishing, gathering and trading for survival. Unfortunately, they eventually disappeared due to disease and warfare with other tribes.
Many other Native Americans have lived in the area over the centuries. The Ute Indians, who were hunters and gatherers, arrived in the late 1800s. In 1915, they established a reservation near present-day Vernal. A variety of cultures ranging from Paiute to Navajo also left their mark on this region.
Today, Fremont Indian State Park is a place for people to explore these ancient cultures. Visitors can view petroglyphs, which are images etched into rocks by the Fremont Indians, as well as other artifacts that provide insight into their lives. The park serves as a reminder of the rich Native American history in Utah and the surrounding area.
When white settlers arrived in Utah in the mid-1800s, most Native Americans had left the area, leaving behind a rich archaeological record. The first settlers were Mormon pioneers, who used the area for grazing livestock. By the late 1800s, miners had also arrived and began to extract coal from nearby mines.
In the early 1900s, local ranchers and farmers settled in the area. They built log cabins as well as small irrigation systems to water their crops. The community began to grow with a post office, stores, a church and even a school. These settlers helped shape the landscape of Fremont Indian State Park by constructing roads, buildings and other infrastructure.
Establishing the Park
The inspiration behind the Fremont culture was a result of archaeological findings in 1928 near Capitol Reef National Park. This discovery uncovered distinct structures and artifacts that differed from those found in Anasazi sites to the south. These unique characteristics included new pottery types, never-before-seen moccasins, clay figurines, and petroglyphs with trapezoidal body shapes.
In 1983, the largest Fremont Village was stumbled upon during the construction of Interstate 70 through Clear Creek Canyon. Recognizing the importance of preserving this valuable collection of rock art and archaeological sites, the Fremont Indian State Park and Museum was established by the Utah Legislature after two years of rigorous archaeological work.
The park is intended to serve as an educational resource, providing visitors with the opportunity to learn about the Fremont culture and its role in Utah's history. The museum contains artifacts from the archaeological sites, many of which are on display for visitors to view.