The most striking geographical features of Utah County are the Wasatch Mountains along the eastern boundary and Utah Lake—the state’s largest freshwater lake—to the west. Timpanogos Peak rises to more than 11,000 feet.
Before the valley was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1840s and 1850s, it was the home of the Ute Indians. They were described by Fathers Dominguez and Escalante, who observed them in the summer of 1776, as peaceful and kind. When the priests and their party came down Spanish Fork Canyon, they became the first non-Indians to enter Utah Valley. Provo, named for the fur trapper Etienne Provost, has always been the largest town and it is the county seat. Farming was the most important early activity, followed by mining and industry. The Geneva Steel plan was constructed at this inland location during World War II in case steel plants on the coast were destroyed. Brigham Young University was established in 1875 as a small high-school level “academy” but it has grown to a major university with students from around the world.
Today, Utah County is known for hi-tech startups, such as WordPerfect and Novell and for being one of the most “digitally-wired” county governments in the nation.