Emery County was named after territorial governor George W. Emery. Its eastern boundary is the Green River, which was first explored by the one-armed Civil War veteran, Gen. John Wesley Powell in a fabled journey in 1869. Another vital water source—the San Rafael River—originates in the Wasatch Plateau from three creeks that flow into Castle Valley—Huntington, Cottonwood and Ferron Creeks.
Occupation of the San Rafael region dates back thousands of years to include people of the Archaic Period who were followed by those of the Fremont Culture. Evidence can still be found in numerous pictograph and petroglyph panels, such as those in Temple Mountain Wash, Muddy Creek and Buckhorn Wash, all sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Travelers also passed through the present county along the Old Spanish Trail.
In 1875, livestock growers from Sanpete brought cattle and sheep into Castle Valley to graze. Mormon homesteads formed in what would become Huntington, Ferron, Orangeville and the county seat of Castle Dale. Development of the coal mines forever changed the economy and the population grew in the 1970s when large power plants were built in Castle Dale and Huntington by Utah Power and Light. Today’s points of interest include the Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, Goblin Valley State Park and the vast San Rafael Swell.