Area: 682 square miles; Population: 765; County seat: Manila; Origin of county name: after Ellsworth Daggett who helped develop irrigation for the county; Principal cities/towns: Dutch John (285), Manila (272); Economy: electric power generating, lumbering, livestock; Points of interest: Flaming Gorge Recreational Area, Ashley National Forest.
Daggett County is located on the north slope of the Uinta Mountains which are unique in that they comprise the only major mountain range in North America that runs primarily east and west.
The Uintas also contain the highest peaks in the state. Leidy Peak at 12,028 feet is the highest peak in the county. The Uintas are the source of much of the water for the Green River which cuts through the Uintas at the east end of the range The county is bordered on the north by Wyoming, on the east by Colorado, on the south by Uintah and Duchesne counties and on the west by Summit County.
Rich with trees, water, and wildlife, Daggett County was the summer hunting grounds for Indians of Wyoming and Utah. The first known white men to visit the county were fur trappers who came to the mountains in the 1820s trapping for beaver. Perhaps the most famous of these was General William Henry Ashley. In 1825, after organizing a fur company in St. Louis, Ashley traveled to the Green River country to see for himself the land of the beaver and other wildlife. That same year he floated down the Green into the Uinta Basin and then traveled by horse and foot through Summit County back to southern Wyoming where the first rendezvous was held. Other trappers and traders soon followed in the footsteps of Ashley. In 1837 Fort Davey Crockett was built at Brown’s Hole by Philip Thompson and William Craig. The fort supplied goods to the trappers of the area. Wislezenus, a German traveler, described Fort Crockett as being “somewhat poverty stricken, for which reason it is also known to the trappers by the name of Fort Misery.”
In 1869 and 1871 John Wesley Powell visited parts of Daggett County. Starting at Green River, Wyoming, Powell floated down the Green and Colorado rivers and on each trip he studied the geology and geography, animal and plant life, and the Indians who lived in the area.
About this same time it was rumored that the Uinta Mountains were full of diamonds. Important and wealthy people in America and in Europe invested in the claims, hoping to make a lot of money. They soon found out that the discovery of diamonds in the Uintas was a hoax.
Daggett County was used for the summer grazing of sheep and cattle trailed in from parts of northern Utah and southwestern Wyoming. Until the introduction of irrigation in the 1890s by Adolph Jessen, Ellsworth Daggett, R. C. Chambers, and others made it possible for farmers and their families to live there. The first permanent settlers included the James Warby and Franklin Twitchell families. In 1917 the state legislature created Daggett County out of the northern part of Uintah County, and Manila was named the county seat. Daggett was the last of the state’s counties (29) to be organized.
Daggett County’s economy is based primarily on the raising of livestock, hay, and alfalfa, but it is also an important producer of electric power for Utah and surrounding states. A new town, Dutch John, was built near Flaming Gorge to provide a living place for people who work at the dam. Flaming Gorge Reservoir is a popular place for boating and fishing.