"One Vast 'Contiguity of Waste'" : Documents from an Early Attempt to Expand the Mormon Kingdom into the Uinta Basin, 1861
Utah Historical Quarterly
Brigham Young had several reasons for wanting to send a company of Latter-day Saints to settle the Uinta Basin. One reason was to stop the "gentiles" from settling it, another was because some earlier scouting reports of the Basin were favorable. Brigham Young called several people to settle the Uinta Basin on August 23, 1861. It was decided that before the main party of settlers went out a small scouting party would be sent to gather information about the Basin, and to determine the best spot for a settlement. There were actually two companies that set out about September 2, one from Salt Lake, and another from Provo. Little is known about the Salt Lake company, other than what Rogers gathered from the journal of L. John Nuttall, and from the official report that was submitted to Brigham Young after the expedition was over. Nuttall was the only one in the Salt Lake company who kept a journal. Both the journal and the official report are reproduced in the article. From these records it is apparent that the company was disappointed with what they found in the Uinta Basin. The official report described the valley as "impregnated with alkali and salt," and advised against a settlement. After receiving the report, Brigham Young immediately called off his settlement proposal. With Young's approval, President Abraham Lincoln set aside a large portion of the Basin as a reserve for the Ute Indians on October 3, 1861.