Emery County, Utah

A view of Huntington Canyon, on the eastern edge of the Wasatch Front in Emery County
Huntington Canyon, into the Wasatch Front in Emery County

Emery County is in east central Utah. This is Goblin Valley and Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry country. The eastern boundary is the Green River, just north of Canyonlands National Park. The I-70 bisects the county east-to-west and a long stretch of the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway and The Energy Loop Scenic Byway is here. Emery County was named for George W. Emery, governor of Utah Territory in 1875.

Emery County contains 4,452 square miles of land and 10 square miles of water. The county seat is Castle Dale, the largest city Huntington.

In the early days of European exploration of the area, the Old Spanish Trail crossed through what is now Emery County. The trail route was "braided" but eventually came together on one primary route. And as much as most traffic on the trail was between Santa Fe, New Mexico and southern California, the principal trade that developed between the Spanish outposts and Utah concerned the Indian slave trade. Many of the landmark names still used in the area can be dated back to names given by Spanish travelers on the trail. Kit Carson followed the Old Spanish Trail east in 1849, carrying news of the California gold strike to the rest of the nation.

Settlement didn't start to happen until Brigham Young sent 50 families into the area in 1877 to colonize and occupy the space before any non-Mormons arrived. By 1879, they had laid claim to virtually all the usable land in the county. As usual, the industrious Mormons dug canals and built elaborate irrigation systems to help the land prosper. However, the underlying soils had spent millions of years as seabed and between poor drainage and over-irrigation, by 1903 about 30% of the previously arable land in the county was abandoned because of the salts that had risen to the surface.

The railroad bypassed most of the county, although the station built in Green River led to some real prosperity in that area. Coal mines were small and produced only for local use up until World War I when production was expanded to fuel the war effort. When the war ended, though, production dropped and wages dropped even more. As bad as the 1920's were in Emery County, the 1930's were worse. Things didn't pick up until World War II. Then things really picked up in the 1970's when Utah Power & Light built two coal-fired electric generation plants in the county and expanded the coal mines to feed them.

Looking west across the Green River at Green River
The Green River

Fast Facts about Emery County, Utah

Types of Jobs:
Private Sector, wages or salary: 72%
Government Sector: 20%
Unincorporated, Self-Employed: 7%
Homemaker, Unpaid: 1%
Population Density: 2 People per Square Mile
Cost of Living Index for Emery County: 81.1
Median Resident Age: 30.1 Years
2015 Estimates:
Median Household Income: $48,000
Median Home Value: $103,500
Major Industries:
Educational Services, Mining, Health Care, Government, Construction, Utilities, Agriculture & Forestry, Lodging & Food Services, Information Services, Transportation Services, Finance & Insurance Services

Population Demographics: 2010

Total Population
Population by Age
Under 18
18 & over
65 & over
Population by Ethnicity
Hispanic or Latino
Non Hispanic or Latino
Population by Race
Native American
Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
Two or more
Photos courtesy of TheArmchairExplorer, CA-by-SA 4.0 License