On April 21, 1869, Probate Judge Joseph H. Wing, proceeded to organize the County of Piute, Territory of Utah, at Bullion City. The name Piute was taken from the Piute Indian Tribe, the name Bullion from the gold-laden mountains of the Tushar Range . Today Bullion City no longer exists but Piute County is one of Utah 's most promising counties.
Piute County is located in the central southern portion of the State and at present is one of the smallest in both area and population of Utah 's twenty-nine counties. Its area is largely covered with mountain. In fact, it would probably be one of Utah 's largest counties if it were ironed out flat.
There are two narrow valleys in the County, one east and one west, which furnish tillable land for agriculture. The western valley of the Sevier River runs from Marysvale on the north to Junction, Kingston and Circleville on the south. This valley is about 27 miles long and 6 miles wide at its widest point. The eastern valley is the Otter Creek Valley . It is about the same length and width beginning at Greenwich area on the north and running to the Angle-Antimony area on the south. These valleys produce some of the finest potatoes in the world due to the high altitude and rich soil. They are truly mountain grown.
Kingston is a beautiful area for picnicking, camping, hiking and fishing. The rock formations in the canyon are varied and interesting with many Indian caves to explore. The town of Kingston is a treat to visit. It is beautifully rural and has many historic and human interest sights. The crumbled remains of three open air dance halls in the County are reminders of the excitement and romance of the 1930 to 1950's. The open air dance hall just outside of Kingston was called "PURPLE HAZE." It has had some work done on it and has been used for dancing on special occasions through the years.
There are three reservoirs located within the county boundaries, the two largest, Piute and Otter Creek, supply water for the counties to the west and north of Piute. The other, the Box Creek Reservoir, supplies water for the Greenwich area.
The Kingston-Circleville area is irrigated from the waters of the Sevier River . The balance of the county's farms and ranches are irrigated from the numerous mountain streams.
Junction is the County seat. A beautiful old courthouse built with hand made adobe bricks in Junction in 1903. It has been in use as County offices and very functional until March 1, 1997 . In 1971 it was placed on the National Register of Historical Buildings.
Ground breaking for a new Piute County Courthouse Complex was held April 1, 1996 at 1:00 p.m. It will be on 550 North Main Street in front of the Piute High School . In one year the Complex was finished and operating. The old courthouse was sold and remodeled on the inside for a family residence. The outside of the building is to be kept as it was. The open house was held February 28, for the completed new courthouse. All offices moved into the building March 1, 1997 . There are also new post office and District school offices in this complex. It is beautiful, and the County is enjoying the beauty and space provided.
Highway 153 which goes from Junction to Beaver is a special scenic drive climbing from 6000 to 10,000 feet in beautiful mountain country abounding with deer and elk.
Snowmobiling and skiing are becoming a growing sport and this highway takes sportsmen to good snow county.
Our major source of income is from beef cattle. Dairy cattle and sheep also contribute to the economy of the county. There is considerable summer range in the high mountains and spring and winter range in the low hills.
Piute County at one time held a vast mineral wealth, from uranium to alunite, from gold to talc. Piute County has the world's largest alunite deposits and is the largest producer of primary type uranium ore (Autunite Uraninite) in the United States . The rail yards of the D. & R. G. W. Railway which ended at Marysvale accommodated the shipments of ore and other machinery and materials to and from the county. The mountains of Marysvale would produce a steady stream of mineral wealth for nearly a hundred years and each year would bring forth new finds of promising prospects. Uranium was unknown in Piute County until 1948. It was found then by a local prospector and since then has produced millions of dollars worth of uranium ore. As said before mining was once a booming industry in Piute County . Gold Silver and other valuable metals brought prospectors and miners to the area from the 1860's through the early 1900's. Some of the mining camps like Bullion, Webster, and Alunite became large communities in their heyday.
The Kimberly Mine, located in the Tushar Mountains , was once the Queen of Utah gold camps, employing 300 miners around the turn of the century. The town flourished until its mines closed in 1907. It is no w a ghost town. Visitors can see some of the old mines along the 2.5 mile " Canyon of Gold Driving Tour " that starts at the Fishlake National Forest boundary in Bullion Canyon west of Marysvale. A brochure, available at the trail head, interprets historic mining features including old mill sites, mines, the foundation of a boarding house, remnants of an 1870's toll road and an arrastra which may be of Spanish origin. The highlight of the tour is Miners' Park. An easy quarter-mile trail winds around interpretive displays of authentic late 1800’s and early 1900’s mining equipment. Other features include a mine portal and shaft, a fully furnished cabin, and a blacksmith's shed. A picnic area is available.
Piute County is rich in mineral treasure and rich in scenery, too. Several scenic drives take you into the heart of the mountains and unfold magnificent mountain views.
The Tushar Mountains and Parker Range , laced by mountain streams, form the roots for recreational areas and as we are located in the midst of the largest mule deer herd in the United States . Many hunters enjoy the beauty of Piute County during the fall deer hunting season. Fishing is also good in Piute County and there are State Boating Parks at both Piute and Otter Creek Reservoirs. These Parks offer boat docks and camping areas for the water skier, fisherman, camper and boating enthusiasts.
Circleville boasts of their famous (or infamous), Robert Leroy Parker better known as Butch Cassidy, who spent his youth there during the 1870's and 1880's and his boyhood home still stands, near U.S. 89, two miles south of town and in the summer months it is open for visitors. Piute County is Butch Cassidy Country in more ways than one, and here he is thought of with a little more kindness and tolerance than one might expect. It was in Circleville that he grew up, and here that he learned how to change cattle brands and evade the law.
In the GLOBE newspaper the following item was written and published on December 20, 1988 . YOU CAN'T BELIEVE THE MOVIES! BUTCH CASSIDY DIED IN BED Romantic outlaw Butch Cassidy didn't die with his six-guns blazing in a murderous shootout with soldiers in Bolivia , as many historians believe. He passed away peacefully in bed--with his boots off. Cassidy's nephew, John Betenson, says his uncle and his fast-draw partner Harry Longabough, the Sundance Kid, spread the story about their deaths so that detectives, who were hot on their trail, would call off their manhunt. "There was a battle with soldiers and two men did die that afternoon," explains Betenson, a 68year-old retired rancher in Circleville , Utah . "It was two lesser members of the outlaw gang who bit the dust. Butch and Sundance simply assumed their identities. "The Bolivian soldiers who captured them were told they had killed the infamous train robbers, and the troopers were happy enough to believe it." The trick worked, and once the trail was cold, Butch and Sundance rode off into the sunset and anonymous retirement. "I know that's the chain of events" says Betenson. "My mother, who died in 1980 at the age of 96, was Butch's sister, and he visited her in 1925, when I was just five years old. "I remember that if the subject of my uncle came up at the dinner table, we were taught to act as if we had never heard of him. Of course, everybody around these parts knew he was my mother's brother."
True or false, the Bolivian shootout provided a rip-roaring finish to the smash-hit movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kind, which starred Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Betenson told GLOBE that Butch was using the alias William Philips when he died of cancer in 1937. But he won't say where the outlaw is buried for fear that trophy hunters might try to unearth his remains. "My uncle's real name was Robert Leroy Parker," he says. "An outlaw named Mike Cassidy took a liking to him when he was 16 and showed him how to shoot. He was so fond of Cassidy that he took his last name."
Betenson adds: "Butch told my mother he had run into the Sundance Kid in Texas a few years before, so we know both men escaped death in South America ."
The little tree-covered town of Kingston is interesting because of its unusual history where during the years 1878-1884, the people lived under the Mormon United Order. The old woolen mill, grist mill, etc., stood for many years but all were burned in a fire.
Kimberly, one of Utah 's most beautifully situated but least known ghost towns has had a varied career of boom, death, and resurrection. Today little remains to testify of its days of vibrant activity except some huge waste deposits and a few crumbled or crumbling buildings, but a good graded road leads to the site--and the drive alone is worth a visit to Kimberly which is located at about 9,000 feet, high in the Tushar Mountains, nestled in an evergreen forest and overlooked by majestic peaks
Marie Bertleson, now known as MARIE WINDSOR was born and raised in Marysvale , Utah . She was a graduate of Marysvale High School . She attended Brigham Young University in Provo and determined to become an actress, she made her way to Hollywood, staying at the then famous Hollywood Studio Club for aspiring actresses, and studied acting with veteran star MARIA OUSPENSKAYA. She was given her first screen role in "ALL AMERICAN CO-ED," with Frances Langford, John Hall, Wallace Beery, Jr. and Alan Hale Jr. She has since gone on to make 73 additional films, and on television she has been seen in episodes of "Fantasy Island", "Simon and Simon", "Charlie's Angels”, The Incredible Hulk", and "Barnaby Jones."
FISHING - Anglers will want to have a good grip on their poles when they fish at Otter Creek Reservoir. The magic in the water makes rainbow, cutthroat, and German brown trout grow big and fast, producing some of Utah 's largest and fastest growing trophy size fish. Boat rentals are available and shore fishing is also excellent. Open all year, the large reservoir is popular for ice fishing in the winter.
Nearby Piute Reservoir is also a popular year round fishery. The trout-stocked mountain lake is located seven miles north of Junction. A large boat ramp provides boating access to the lake's 2250 acres of water.
The Sevier River along US 89 and the East Fork of the Sevier River above Otter Creek Reservoir offer good trout fishing. During the summer, anglers can cast their lines for rainbow, brook and cutthroat trout at LeBaron and Puffer Lake located high in the forested Tushar Mountains .
RECREATION - Exploring Piute County unveils a world of things to see and do, all year round. Outdoor enthusiasts will discover a recreational paradise on the 12,000 foot high Tushar Mountains and the Fishlake and Dixie National Forests . Mountain biking, hiking, horseback, and ATV riding, fishing, rock hounding, camping and picnicking are some of the popular warm weather activities. In winter, the snow-covered mountains are perfect for snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and downhill skiing at Elk Meadows Ski and Summer Resort. In the fall, the forests are ablaze with brilliant golden aspens and deep green pines and spruce.
In the lower elevations there are rodeos, rafting, gold panning, horseback riding, and sightseeing. Otter creek and Piute Lake State Parks offer boating, fishing and water sports in the summer, and ice fishing in the winter.
Visitors will find interesting buildings with Victorian architecture in the small old western towns located throughout Piute County . They'll want to browse the unique, old-fashioned shops like the general stores where they can step back in time, search for antiques and crafts at the Hawks Nest, or watch rag rugs being woven on antique floor looms at Lizzy and Charlie's Rag Rugs in Marysvale. They can drive by Hamptons ’ Western Village , and stop for a snack at the old fashioned Ice Cream Parlor in Circleville.
Five national parks are within an easy drive of Piute County : Bryce Canyon , Zion , Capitol Reef, Grand Canyon North Rim, and Canyon lands National Parks, and Lake Power/Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
PAIUTE ATV TRAIL - ATV riders will find leisurely family type riding along the Paiute ATV trail. The Paiute ATV Trail is a 272 mile-long loop course that crosses mountain ranges, rugged canyons and deserts in south central Utah . The unique trail has been rated one of the best 15 trails in the country by Dirt Wheels magazine.
With the diverse terrain and climate, riders can experience the thrill of descending from mountains to dense forest, stop to see vistas of the surrounding countryside or watch herds of deer or elk.
Riders can enter the trail at any point: there is no beginning or end. Mountain bikers are also welcome.
Circleville, Marysvale, and other towns along the trail permit ATVs on designated streets so riders can go directly from the dirt trail to motels, restaurants, grocery stores and service stations. Otter Creek and Piute State Parks are also easily accessible from the trail.
At lease two ATV events are scheduled in Piute County each year. Write or visit www.piute-county.com for information.
ORIGIN of the COUNTY NAME - was evolved from the Paiute (Pah Ute) Indians.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND - Originally, the Piute County region was possibly inhabited by cliff dwellers. However, the only inhabitants discovered by the first white men to enter the County area were the Piute or Pah Ute Indians. Denis Julian was one of the first white men to pass through the Piute County area. Julian's name, along with the date 1836, can be found scratched on rocks within the county boundaries. In the late 1850's and early 1860's a fe w a dventurous men, searching for new places to settle, wandered into the Piute County region where they found grasses suitable for grazing stock. In March 1864, Circleville was settled by a group of Mormon colonist from Ephriam and Sanpete County . Junction, the present county seat, was settled in the same year.
The original spelling of the Indian name was PAIUTE but the "A" was dropped. Before the Mormon settlers came they had learned to raise wheat, melons, amaranth and indigo. To water these crops they built crude irrigation ditches leading from the small streams. They occupied mostly small places where the land was flat. During the warm months they needed little shelter but in winter they built wickiups. They wore little clothing, children wore none, except in the cold months when they wore rabbit skins for covering, and at times the men wore leggings. Moccasins were known but seldom worn. The women wore basketry hats to protect them from pitch while gathering pinion nuts. They made basketry hats, burden baskets, seed beaters, winnowing and parching trays, flat trays, water jugs or ollas, and bowls.
The Paiutes were a peaceful people; weapons were used almost exclusively for hunting and food gathering. Besides the bo w a nd arrow, they used a club and flint knife. Rodent hooks were used in helping to dig small animals from their holes; they were long sticks with a slightly forked end.
Fire was made by use of a stick drill twirled between the palms of the hands while an assistant held some bark tinder in which to catch the spark.
Indian writings are hard to find now because of the wind and weather covering and erasing them but they have been found, along with arrow heads, in many parts of the County both north, south, east and west. They are especially to be found around Circleville and in Kingston Canyon where there are still Indian Caves , along highway 62.
There were three different expeditions through Piute County . The Old Spanish Trial became the established route of the Spanish slave trader, before 1830. These slave traders terrorized the Paiutes by stealing their children and taking them to California to be sold as slaves, sometimes they would take the women also. The second expedition was sent out in the fall of 1849 by Brigham Young, President of the L.D.S. Church . He selected fifty men to go into southern Utah and explore the country for settlement, with Parley P. Pratt as President, David Fullmer and W.W. Philips as councilmen and John Brown as Captain.
The third expedition was the party of Colonel John C. Fremont, a party without a guide. They left Westport (now Kansas City ) in late September 1853. From a point near the town of Green River , Utah , present Emery County , the explorers then proceeded southwestwardly through Wayne County , exploring carefully the valleys and streams of this noted wonderland. They crossed the mountains into Circle Valley, Piute County and thence proceeded southward to a point near the modem town of Panguitch, near Bear Valley, where they turned westward across the mountains into Parowan. They had a very rough time getting over the mountain. It was February 8, 1954 , when the 400 Mormon citizens of Parowan, welcomed and gave relief to Fremont 's party, who had been for forty-eight hours without food of any kind. From Parowan Fremont followed the Old Spanish Trail to Southern California .