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Fish in Utah Lake and the Provo River Saved Utah’s Early Settlers from Starvation.

Commercial fishing ranked as one of early Utah’s important industries, and Utah lake’s sucker and trout provided food for Utah’s settlers in times of need.

During the spring of 1848, the new settlers of Salt Lake Valley met hunger face to face.  Frost killed many of their young and tender crops, and Mormon crickets helped themselves to what was left.  The hungry settlers turned to Utah lake for food and established the Eutaw Fishing Company.  Its member caught fish in Utah Lake and took them to Salt Lake City to feed the hungry.

The abundance of fish in Utah Lake and the Provo River helped to attract settlers to Provo in 1849.  Fishing companies caught fish, and peddlers sold a portion of them fresh either locally or in Salt Lake City.  Many fishermen salted the rest of their catch and  placed the fish in barrels to sell later.

In 1855 and 1856, swarms of grasshoppers invaded the Great Basin and destroyed crops.  Fishing companies from LDS wards in Salt Lake City camped for weeks in Provo on the banks of the river and the lake.  They caught fish and sent them home to help feed the hungry.

And for a third time in the first ten years of settlement, fish helped feed the colonists in 1858.  During the move south from Salt Lake City, many evacuees camped near the river and lake.  Some of them formed co-operative fishing companies, and the fish they caught helped feed members of the camp.  Once again, fish provided a safety net for those in need.  This important industry continued to provide food for Provo pioneers for many decades.

This is plaque #4 in the Series of Events from Provo’s History and is located in Bicentennial Park in Provo.

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