Situated in the heart of Utah...
Situated in the heart of Utah Valley between the east shore of Utah Lake and the towering Wasatch Mountains is the city of Provo. Mount Timpanogos (elevation 11,957 feet) dominates the northern view from the city. Other rugged mountains east of the city provide one of the most picturesque backdrops for a Utah city.
Utah Valley was the traditional home of Ute Indians, who settled in villages close to the lake both for protection from bellicose tribes to the northeast and to be close to their primary source of food--fish from the lake. The first white visitors to the Provo area were Fray Francisco Atanasio Dominguez and Fray Silvestre Velez de Escalante, who visited Utah Valley in 1776. Only a retrenchment in Spanish New World colonization and missionary efforts prevented establishment of settlements promised by these Franciscan missionaries.
Fur trappers and traders frequented the area in the early decades of the nineteenth century, and it is from one of these trappers, Etienne Provost, that Provo takes its name.
Provo was settled by Mormons in 1849, and was the first Mormon colony in Utah outside of Salt Lake Valley. Troubles with Indians gave rise to a popular saying in early Utah: 'Provo or hell!' When President James Buchanan sent United States troops to Salt Lake City to put down the 'Mormon insurrection' in 1858, thousands of Mormons, including leader Brigham Young, moved to Provo. 'The Move South' came to a quick end as the Mormons were 'pardoned' and new governor Alfred Cumming made peace with the Saints. Provo remained the second largest city in Utah until Ogden became Utah's primary railroad terminus in 1869. Provo lost in its bid as a transcontinental railroad stopping place, but thereby retained its distinctly Mormon flavor. It soon came to be known as the 'Garden City' because of its extensive fruit orchards, trees, and gardens.
In 1875 Brigham Young Academy was founded. From humble beginnings, this institution has grown into Brigham Young University, the largest church-affiliated university in the United States today. The city and the university have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship and have grown together. Today, the university has helped generate a fledgling high-technology industry in the Provo area and sometimes attracts national attention through its academic and sports programs.