Provo’s First Colonizers Soon Moved from a River Site to Higher Ground

In September, 1849, only six months after Provo’s original colonizers had build Fort Utah near where I-15 today crosses the Provo River, Brigham Young told the colonists to move onto the slightly elevated land to the east where there was not as much alkali in the soil and where they would be safer from floods.

By the next April, only a year after the colonists had established Fort Utah, they began their very gradual relocation to Fort Provo about a mile east of Fort Utah in what is now North Park at 500 West and 500 North. Colonists used logs salvaged from their old cabins and the palisade around Fort Utah, as well as newly cut logs, to build cabins around a 1,500-foot square at the new site.

The doors and windows of the cabins faced the inside of the square, exactly as they had been at Firt Utah. Some settlers made portholes in their cabins facing outside for defense against the Indians. Inside the square, workmen built a 50-foot-long log structure which they used as a school, church and civic building.

Surveyors began mapping a town play south of the fort in the summer of 1850. They started with the northwest quarter, with the road west of the fort (now 500 West) as Main Street.

Like at Fort Utah,the settlers did not inhabit Fort Provo very long. That fall, settlers began moving out of the fort and occupied lots along Main Street. By the spring of 1852, most of the colonists had moved to lots in town. Fort Provo stood almost deserted by that fall, but the land where it once stood has since been used for a variety of very important public uses, one being an ice skating rink.

This plaque is part of this series of historic plaques and is located in Riverside Park and along the Provo River Trail in Provo.