(Photo by Kreig Rasmussen)
The first signs of civilization in Sevier County date back over 5,000 years and were discovered during the construction of Interstate 70 in the mid 1980s. The Fremont Indians inhabited the southern portion of the county in an area called Clear Creek. There, they hunted and fished the clear waters until about 1,300 A.D. The remnants of their civilization can be seen at the Fremont Indian State Park (Exit 17 along Interstate 70).
Until the mid 1800s, Sevier County was home to a number of Native American peoples including the Southern Paiute and at times the more nomadic Ute tribe. Because Sevier County is considered part of the "high desert" in Utah and thus, it is more difficult to live off of the land, many of the native peoples lived and traveled in small groups.
The first documented European visitors to Sevier County were Spanish Catholic clerics in 1776. They traveled central Utah in search of a river that Indian legend told, ran west to the Pacific Ocean.
The Spanish clerics never found the river that ran to the Pacific Ocean. They did, however, name one of the more turbulent rivers "Rio Severo" the term that has come to be both the name of the river and the County - Sevier. Interestingly, instead of running south and west to the Pacific, the Sevier River runs north through Sevier County and pours into Yuba Lake.
Two branches of the Old Spanish Trail pass through Sevier County - both to the north and the south. Records indicate that in the early 1800's fur trade and other commerce brought numerous companies through Sevier County. During that time, the Sevier Valley was a popular place for men and animals to rest before continuing their journey.
In 1863, a party of six men from Salt Lake City visited the area while looking for places for future settlements. Their report on the area stated "plenty of deer and other game, besides good farm and grass lands and water." It was at this time that it was concluded that the there would be a large settlement in a place called Big Spring - now known as Richfield.
One year later, in the summer of 1864, the first official settlement of the area occurred. Other settlers soon followed but much of the area was abandoned during Blackhawk War in 1867. Attempts to re-settle the area were not successful until 1870 and by 1874, 753 residents lived in the area.