Kane County
History / Geography


The first inhabitants of Kane County and the surrounding area were a part of a primitive culture known as the Basket Makers. Archeologists generally place the date of their dwelling on the area between 200 A.D. and 1300 A.D.; however, this latter date has been called into question because of recent, very cursory, explorations. The phase-out of the culture might be better placed at 1500 A.D. At first, the Basket Makers were generally nomadic, but in time they developed dwellings in the high cliffs and began to practice some primitive agriculture.

After the Basket Maker culture died out in the area, there is some evidence of a primitive Pueblo culture. Traces of their existence can be found around the town of Kanab, in Johnson and Cottonwood Canyons. No reason can be given for their departure from this region. They were followed by the Paiutes and then by the Navajos.

History records that the first white man in the general area was a lieutenant in the Spanish conquistador army of Cornado by the name of Cardenas. The group had been searching for the fabled seven cities of Cibola (cities of gold). They had been exploring the Colorado River. It is believed that Cardenas had discovered the Grand Canyon. He probably passed through Kane County.

In 1776, history is clear that Kane County was visited by another Spanish exploring party trying to find a shortcut from Santa Fe to the Pacific Coast. This group was led by Father Escalante and Father Dominguez. Padre Escalante has left his name behind in many areas, especially in eastern Kane County with Padre Bay, the Crossing of the Father, and Escalante Canyon.

After the Spaniards came the mountain men- John C. Fremont and his scout, Kit Carson, in 1811. Jacob Hamblin, the Mormon Peacemaker to the Native Americans, was the next notable entering the area in 1858.

In 1864, the Utah Territorial Legislature established the boundaries for Kane County. People were sent from the Dixie area to establish homes in the Long Valley area.

Glendale was established in 1864, Alton in 1865, and Kanab in 1874. Orderville came only a short time later after a disagreement among individuals who had lived in Mt. Carmel (The Muddy Mission).


Kane County is strategically placed at approximately the mid-point between Salt Lake City and Phoenix. The flow of travelers between these two cities contributes significantly to the level of economic activity in the communities in the western portion of the County.

The legislative boundaries for Kane County are: beginning at the middle of the main channel of the Colorado River where intersected by the line separating townships 37 and 38 south, thence west to the line separating ranges 9 and 10 west; thence south to the boundary of the state; thence east to the middle of the main channel of the Colorado River, thence northeasterly up the middle of said channel to the point of beginning. (U.C.A. 17-1-16).

The distance between Kane County and the more populated areas to the north and south contributes to its appeal as a convenient stopping point for weary travelers. It is the same distance which serves to isolate the county from being directly influenced by the population and economic growth experienced in these other areas.

With it's established facilities and services, Kane County has benefited from the number of tourists visiting adjacent scenic attractions. The number of people attracted to Kane County for recreational purposes will increase dramatically with a better road system. The lack of an adequate transportation mode has served to deter industrial development for the county.

One of the County's most popular attractions forms the eastern boundary of Kane County. Lake Powell, which was created when the Bureau of Reclamation constructed the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River, has become a favorite vacation spot for the people living in the southwestern region of the United States.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon, one of the most notable natural attractions in the world, is accessed primarily from Kane County, even though it is located in Arizona. This wonder, combined with Lake Powell, are principal magnets drawing in tourists.

Major emphasis in developing the original Kane County Master Plan was necessarily placed on planning facilities to accommodate the growth in numbers of people visiting part of the county where comparatively few people had traveled until the Glen Canyon Dam was under construction between 1956 and 1964.

The mineral wealth of the county is becoming more apparent. The oil, gas, coal and uranium resources are manifestly documented. Of lesser impact are copper, magnesium, lead, gold, and silver all of which are deposited throughout the entirety of the county.

The cattle industry has been a mainstay of the economy of Kane County. Through federal mismanagement of the land resources and the general economy, the cattle industry has become less impactual. This segment of the economy must be revitalized to meet the growing consumer needs of our general area and the nation as a whole. It must be allowed to prosper to enhance the depressed economy of Kane County.

The 4,373 square miles, or approximately 3,798,720 acres of land in Kane County makes it larger than the states of Rhode Island, Delaware, and the District of Columbia combined, and almost as large as the entire state of Connecticut. The sheer size of this area requires effective planning and administration if the future land use developments are to be in the best interest of the general public as well as private individuals.

Of this entire area, only 218 square miles are private deeded lands. The remainder is controlled by the State of Utah (487 square miles) and the Federal Government (3,718 square miles) through the agency of the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Park Service.

This is a land rich in natural beauty, natural resources, and great potential. It is a land that has been "found" by the tourists as well as by the geologists, miners, and developers. The role of the people in Kane County is preserving those areas that are important.

See Also: History of Kanab

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