Hyrum's Foundations: Camp Hollow, the Fort, and the Town
On April 1, 1860, Ira Allen arrived at Maughan’s Fort (Wellsville) in Cache Valley after leading a wagon train of Mormon settlers from Cedar City. On borrowed horses, a few men from the group explored the area for a town site and on April 8th, located a suitable area at the base of the eastern slope of the mountains into the valley, five miles east of Wellsville. Camp Hollow provided fresh water and rich, tillable soil, so they moved their wagons to the new settlement. With rough wooden plows and wooden harrows the settlers planted 100 acres of corn, wheat, oats, and barley just west of Camp Hollow and encircled it with a log pole fence. Twenty-one families (a total of seventy-seven people) lived in the settlement in thirteen dugouts, one cabin, and several wagon boxes. Throughout the month, several more families joined them requiring more water and land for home sites.
By mid-April 1860, Territorial Surveyor Jesse W. Fox had completed a survey of their fields, a town site a mile south of Camp Hollow, and a canal from the Little Bear River nine miles to the south. Building lots were distributed to the heads of households and construction of more permanent structures began. The communal effort to construct homes, farm crops, and care for the cattle was challenged by the increased demand for water, as the heat of summer approached. And by the end of May 1860 most of the families had relocated to the new town site.
In early June 1860, Brigham Young visited Cache Valley and warned the settlers about being so scattered. He counseled, “What would you do, provided the Indians became angry and suddenly attacked you?…Move your families and wagons close together.” So they laid out a fort along the Fox survey line and the current Main Street, beginning at the big ditch, located at what is now 200 East, and stretching two and one-half blocks westward to the center of the present city square. Some reports indicate that it was later expanded approximately one block further west. They hauled logs from Paradise Dry Canyon and built one-room twenty by sixteen foot cabins in two rows facing each other. Thirty-six cabins were constructed or pulled into the fort, plus corral for cattle and horses and a log meeting house was built that winter and used as a church and school.
Beginning in the summer of 1863, settlers began pulling their cabins out of the fort and a year later, a new survey of the town site was completed. County surveyor, James H. Martineau, drew the town with ten acre square blocks divided into eight one and one-fourth acre lots, large enough for a house, a lawn, garden, orchard, livestock and poultry sheds, and barns. The head of each household and oldest son selected building lots by drawing numbers from a lottery for $1.00 per lot. Additionally, each head of household was allotted twenty acres of land for farming.