Prehistoric people occupied the Richfield area for more than 7,000 years. Fremont culture remains are found near most community sites in the Sevier area and are dated from approximately CE 1 to CE 1000. In the late summer of 1776, Father Escalante and his party of Spanish explorers passed through the general vicinity, looking for a trail to link Nuevo Mexico and California. During the late 1820s, Jedediah Smith and other fur traders crossed the area. Sevier County lies on one of the variants on the Old Spanish Trail between Santa Fe, New Mexico and California and was used by travelers between 1830 and 1850.
In the early part of January 1864, a party of ten men under the leadership of Albert Lewis came from Sanpete County, Utah and arrived in what is now Richfield. The Mormon settlers found fertile soil, good water and wood in the nearby hills. They decided that it was a desirable site for a settlement. These pioneers made a dwelling place for all ten men, which they called ‘The Hole in the Ground.’ They carefully covered this hole with brush willows and other materials and made a crude chimney of rocks. This dugout was located on today’s Main Street. These men spent the remainder of the winter in this dwelling, planning and preparing for the time when they could bring their families.
The early Mormon settlements were abandoned in 1867 due to the conflict known as the Black Hawk War. But, when resettled in 1871, Richfield grew to become a regional center. The coming of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad in 1891 opened the valley for expanded agricultural commerce and mining.
In 1939, Utah Governor Henry H. Blood vetoed a proposal for a junior college in Richfield. Fifty-seven years later, Snow College opened a Richfield campus, which serves about 600 students per year.