Jensen was first settled in 1877 and named for Lars Jensen, an early prospector and ferryman. Today its main importance is as the Utah entrance to Dinosaur National Monument.
Kennedy Station was a stagecoach and freight wagon stop along the Uintah Toll Road until about 1935. The Uintah Toll Road was well-graded and was designed for fast stagecoach travel. At the time the Uintah Toll Road was considered the best road in Utah. The road connected Dragon (a ghost town) to Vernal. Tolls were assessed on the road to help with the maintenance of the road, bridges, and ferries. The road was part of a transportation system set up to connect Uintah Basin towns to cities in Colorado. Drivers changed horses at this stop and passengers were fed. Many freighters spent the night here. There are not any known pictures of Kennedy Station so take some time and wander about, try to visualize what buildings were there and what it may have looked like. Some older residents in Uintah County may still remember the station. You will see shards of glass, old nails, bits of metal, and remains of building foundations or corrals. Please leave everything as you find it for others to enjoy in the future. Artifacts are protected by law. More of the history of the area can be found at the Uintah County Library located in Vernal.(*)
Vernal, unlike most Utah towns, was not settled by Mormons. Brigham Young sent a scouting party to Uintah Basin in 1861 and received word back the area was good for nothing but nomad purposes, hunting grounds for Indians and “to hold the world together.” That same year, President Abraham Lincoln set the area aside as the Uintah Indian Reservation, with Captain Pardon Dodds appointed Indian agent. Dodds later built the first cabin by a white man in the Uinta Basin about 1868. Settlers began to filter in after that and build cabins in various spots on or near Ashley Creek. In 1879 many came close to perishing in the famous “Hard Winter” of that year.
Naples is in the eastern section of the Ashley Valley on US-40, two miles southeast of Vernal. The settlement was named for the prominent city in Italy. It also had earlier names (not in chronological order) such as Merrill for Porter William Merrill, a local church official; Riverdale, because it was located on the Green River; and Frogtown, because of the large number of frogs in the vicinity. Bishop P. W. Merrill suggested that the name be changed from Merrill to Naples.
The population was 1,300 at the 2000 census. Although Naples was a town in 2000, it has since been classified as a fifth-class city by state law.
Click here to see my list of other places in Utah.