History & Culture

Photo of some rock art.The lands managed by the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest have a diverse history. For perhaps 15,000 years this area was home to Native Americans who made their living by hunting and gathering, with one known brief episode of horticulture.

By the time of white settlement in this area, the ancestors of the first Americans were organized into groups historically known as the Ute, Goshute, and the Northwestern Shoshone. As Euro-Americans moved west, Free Photo of Chief WashakiTrappers scoured the mountains and valleys for the furs that fueled the early frontier economy, which in time had a global economic impact. Beginning in the 1840's, the area served as the anchor point for pioneers belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), as they settled throughout the Great Basin and the Intermountain West. Historic Stone Quarries located on the Forest today supplied the materials for the famous LDS Temple in Salt Lake City. Timber harvested from the Forests that would become the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache, was shaped into the railroad ties that connected the Nation at Promontory Point in 1869. These public lands have a long history of multiple use, a tradition that continues today under the management of the USFS.

Jim Bridger photo courtesy of the American Heritage Center: University of Wyoming, Laramie.


Photo of a tie hacker.

The physical traces of this rich heritage can still be found on lands for everyone to enjoy. Archaeological and historic sites hold clues to America's past. If disturbed, a part of our heritage may be lost forever. Sites and artifacts on public lands are protected by Federal Law. If you discover such remains, please leave them undisturbed. Report your discoveries to Forest Service personnel.





“Boxes from the Bowels”
Passport in Time Project
Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest March 2017

Volunteers from around the country recently came to Ogden, Utah for another round of artifact curation as part of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest’s, “Boxes from the Bowels” Passport in Time Project.  This is the fifth year the Forest’s Heritage Program has conducted this PIT project at Weber State University’s Archaeological Lab.  

This year, professional archaeologists and staff with the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and Utah Division of State History worked with volunteers on collections from two historic sites on the forest, Strawberry Valley and Forest City, excavated between the 1980s to the present by the Forest’s Heritage Program.  These collections are important for both public interpretation and scientific research. To prepare these collections, PIT projects have focused on cleaning, sorting, and placing artifacts in archival quality storage, along with gathering and recording information.

Strawberry Valley was the location of a massive military training maneuver conducted in August of 1888 by troops from Fort Douglas and Fort Duchesne, UT, and Fort Bridger, WY.  The collection of artifacts from this site contains some of the most significant historic archaeological finds in the state of Utah, and includes a wide range of material classes from militaria to liquor bottles.  With the help of PIT volunteers over the past five years, this collection of artifacts is now completely cataloged and totals approximately 20,700 artifacts.  This year volunteers focused on correcting data errors and replacing handwritten tags with printed tags from the collection’s database.  

The Forest City site, located in American Fork Canyon, was a large mining camp with a diverse population in the 1870s. The artifact collection contains a significant assemblage of late 19th century artifacts that give specific and detailed insight into how people lived and worked during this time and in this locale.  Volunteers continued to dedicate time to formally cataloging Forest City artifacts which included measuring, weighing, and describing artifacts, and entering data into a digital database.

This PIT project offered volunteers a fun and educational experience through a hands-on glimpse of materials from these two important historic sites, providing a feel for the times and peoples the artifacts represent.  Each participant gained experience in proper archaeological laboratory techniques from Forest Service staff, and was exposed to the process of curation practices.  PIT volunteers have been invaluable to Forest’s Heritage Program as they provide the much-needed help to get artifact collections properly documented and archived in order to preserve these sites legacy and scientific value.