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Early Riverton

The first known residents of the Riverton area were the Yo No Indians, a poor tribe living along the Jordan River. Well-worn trails extended from Utah Lake where various tribes wintered, to Bear Lake where they rendezvoused during the summer. Much credit is due for the free use of their byways, exchange of leather goods and furs, relinquishing land, and their general friendly attitude. Four forts erected west of the river were never seriously needed for protection. They were: Wight’s Fort, north by the Oquirrh Mountains; English Fort at the Bennion Cemetery site; Fort Herriman, 5 miles west of here; and Cedar Fort to the south.

Riverton was born of the Pioneer Spirit that moved men and women independently to reach out and wrestle a living from the harsh, untamed land. Many settlers spent their first year in dug-outs along the Jordan River as did the Yo No’s.

In 1855, Abraham Hunsaker, a convert from Illinois and a member of the Mormon Battalion, moved his herds across the river to join Jesse Beckstead and Samuel and Thomas Butterfield who were already using the land for grazing. Abraham was the first man to own land and divert water. But Archibald Gardner was the first to live here and become the largest land owner; so for many years the area was called “Gardnersville.” Judge Charles Smith later named the town “Riverton”.

From 1850 to 1881 most attempts to bring water to the land were inadequate, however, some succeeded. The fertile soil responded, and the permanent expanding settlement was here to stay. Sheep, cattle, alfalfa, beets, minerals, poultry, and dry farming all had their “hey day” and contributed greatly to the growing economy.

Sons of Utah Pioneers historic marker #7 was located here at Riverton City Park (1452 W 12600 S in Riverton) – see the original monument here – it was later split into two separate monuments, this one and “The Magnificent Dome Church,” both still located here at the park.