Lambs Canyon was explored shortly after the Utah Pioneers entered Salt Lake Valley in 1847. A cooper, Abel Lamb, built the first road in the draw in 1850, over which he and his sons hauled wood from the canyon forests to make barrels, tubs, washboards, churns, and water-buckets sorely needed by the settlers in the valley. Abel Lamb’s beef barrels “were hooped with strong willows called hoopoles which were split and circled around the barrels.” The Lambs built a home in the canyon. When food was scarce, they lived on sego roots, pig-weed and beet-top greens.
The Deseret News dated October 12, 1854, announced that “Fourteen miles east of this city, near the top of Parley’s Canyon in Rocky Hill Canyon (now Lamb’s Canyon) is erected a new sawmill. Builders and cabinet makers who want an article of white or red pine lumber will find it at my mill or lumber yard, near my cooper shop, on East Temple Street (now Main Street).” Signed Able Lamb.
Lamb’s sawmill was sold to James Bullock. In 1864, Phippan Bassett moved with his family into Lamb’s Canyon to operate a steam sawmill by Brigham Young’s Family. Janette B. Gibson Mailin, a native pioneer of 1863, records in her history that she used to accompany her grandmother, during the late 1860s and early 1870s to the mouth of Lambs Canyon where the elder women took charge of the toll gate. At this gate a collection of 25 cents was taken for each team that passed through it. The funds collected defrayed costs of road repair.
While the pioneers were appreciative of the picturesque mountains in close proximity to their homes, they also looked upon them as gifts of God. To Lambs Canyon they went for water to quench their thirst, for timber to build their homes, for logs to burn in their crude fireplaces, and for deer and fish to increase their meager food supplies. As the heat of the valley became more than they could endure, they sought relief in the coolness of the canyon.