How They Got The Name: Weber

How They Got The Name: Weber

[This article originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 1970 edition of Pioneer Magazine.]

Colorful and Picturesque Places in Mountain West

By T. Mack Woolley

Weber River is the second largest affluent of Great Salt Lake. Its headquarters are to the southeast in both the Wasatch and Uinta Mountains.

Weber Canyon with its northeast fork, Echo, is the main gateway into Utah, having the lowest altitude throughout the Wasatch. It early became the route of explorers, trappers, immigrants to the Far West, the Union Pacific Railroad in 1868-69, and modern highways.

In 1825 a detachment of Ashley’s Men headed by John H. Weber explored and trapped down the river’s narrow valley. Weber was one of four of William Sublette’s men who circumnavigated Great Salt Lake in 1826. In the winter of 1828-29, John H. Weber was killed by Indians near the river. Sublette, factor of the Rocky Mountain Fur Co., named this important stream for his fallen man.

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Weber County, one of Utah’s original eight, embraces the drainage of Ogden River, a magnificent section of the Wasatch front, and the plain extending westward to Great Salt Lake through which the lower course of Weber River, after joined by Ogden River, meanders to empty into the lake. The county was named from Weber River.

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San Francisco Mountains, are in Beaver County, and are northwest of Milford. These mountains were named for San Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan order of which Friars Dominguez and Escalante were members. It is probable the name was applied in reference to the 1776 expedition headed by them which passed this district southward. Frisco, a defunct mining town in these mountains which centered about the Horn Silver Mine, was named with a corrupted form of San Francisco.

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San Juan River: (Rio San Juan) (Rio San Juan Bautista) The latter is the full Spanish name for the river, from the name “Saint John the Baptist River” and is of frequent occurrence in Spanish America. The headwaters of the are in the mountains of San Juan of southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico.

The main stream heads near Farmington, New Mexico and courses northwesterly into Utah a few miles north of the Four Corners, thence generally westerly across San Juan County. In its lower courses the river has carved a deep canyon with many entrenched meanders and enters the gorge of the Colorado River in Glen Canyon.

San Juan is a name common to contiguous sections of three states – New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. There are two explanations of the origin of the name San Juan River: 1 – In 1598 the Spanish under Don Juan de Onate undertook the conquest and settlement of New Mexico. Onate possessed the Tewa Pueblo Caypa on the east bank of the Rio Grande del Norte north of Santa Fe as headquarters of the provisional Spanish government. He renamed the Indian pueblo San Juan to honor himself by which name is has been known since. 2 – According to J.J. Hill it is possible Rio San Juan was so named by the Escalante group in honor of Don Juan Maria de Revera who in 1765 explored north west from Santa Fe to what is now known as the Gunnison River.

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