Francis, Kamas and Coalville

A beautiful day for a ride. After a stop at Jordanelle Resevoir for a photo, I rode through the sleepy little town of Francis, UT at the southern end of the Kamas valley and the entrance to Wolf Creek Pass (another beautiful ride later for later in the summer).

Kamas, UT, known as the “Gateway to the Uintas,” is home to cattle ranching and lumber mills. Freshly plowed fields and the smell of the saw mills accompanied my ride through Kamas and Oakley.

Original inhabitants of the valley were Native Americans of the Ute, Shoshone and Snake tribes. Kamas was settled in 1859 under the direction of Brigham Young not long after the Mormons settled in Utah. A famous resident of Kamas, Thomas Rhodes, was shown by members of the local Ute tribe a gold mine from which he could extract ore to assist in the building of the Salt Lake Temple. The only condition made by the Utes was that Rhodes keep the location of the mine a secret—which he did until his death. The “Rhodes Mine” is now considered lost, but its legend survives in several books which have been published on the topic.

Parley P. Pratt, one of the original Mormon settlers, was sent to the Kamas valley in 1850 to locate a suitable site for a settlement along the Weber River. Although Rhodes was the first white settler to winter in the valley, Pratt’s original report was, “. . . a good valley, abundant grass and plenty of water”. Originally called Oak City, the town of Oakley was settled in 1868. The famous Oakley 4th of July Rodeo is a great event to get a taste of a small town rodeo and is visited by thousands of people every summer.

Originally called Chalk Creek, Coalville was settle in 1859 when a Mormon freighter noticed that spilled wheat started to grow and convinced other settlers to join him in the valley. In 1854 the territorial government in Utah offered a $1000 reward to anyone who could find coal within 40 miles of Salt Lake City. Four years later, Thomas Rhodes found a coal vein in the Chalk Creek area, and coal mining began in earnest. Hundreds of tons of coal were shipped to Salt Lake City, and soon a narrow gauge railroad was built. The settlement was renamed Coalville as a result of this early coal mining success.

A little over an hour out of Salt Lake City, this is a great ride through some very beautiful mountain valley towns. A fun ride and relaxing afternoon.

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1 Comment

Filed under Utah Rides

One response to “Francis, Kamas and Coalville

  1. Pingback: Kamas Valley on Memorial Day 2012 | Quiet Roads

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