Where is Snake Valley?

Snake Valley and the Town of Garrison
Snake Valley & Garrison
Snake Valley & Garrison. Photo Kirsti Fillman

The Snake Valley, named after the Snake Indians, is 100 miles long and 16 miles wide and runs northeast to southwest, from Millard County, Utah across the state border into White Pine County, Nevada. To the west are the Snake Mountains, which in the south rise to Wheeler Peak (3 982 m) in the Great Basin National Park. In the east, the Confusion Range and Conger Range form valley walls. Snake Valley has plentiful water supplies and hot springs but also salt marshes. The valley around Garrison, south of Gandy and the same latitude as Wheeler Peak, is very green, irrigated with the water from Pruess Lake on the Nevada-Utah border south of Garrison, Utah and north of Burbank, Utah. To the west is the Snake Mountain Range, home of the Great Basin National Park.

See a modern map of the Snake Valley and Gandy here

The primary value of Preuss Lake exists in providing irrigation to farmers downstream in the Snake Valley. As you drive across the vast Snake Valley, you will see patches of green where farmers have utlilized water from the many streams that flow from the Snake Range. In 1855 Brigham Young sent a group of elders to establish a mission and plant crops in “Grease Wood Valley”, the original name for Snake Valley, which came from a species of trees which grew there.

 Lehman Caves

The Lehman Caves in the Snake Valley (now part of the Great Basin National Park) and noted for remarkable stalactites and stalagmites, were discovered in 1885  by Absalom S. Lehman. There are said to be at least 40 accounts of how they were discovered. Many accounts agree that the first party of people to enter the cave included most of Snake Valley’s early citizens. These include Ab and Ben Lehman, William Burbank, Dan Simonsen, E.W. Clay, Ed Lake, William Atkinson, Isaac Gandy, George Robinson, D.A. Gonder, P.M. Baker and Nettie Baker, who was probably the first white woman to see the cave. (NPS)

The Town of Garrison

“Close to the Nevada border,….several adobe and log cabins mark the site of an outlaw camp that later became a farm town and still later a ghost town. Garrison had its birth as an outlaw ranch. There, Utah cattle were fattened up before being driven across the Nevada border, where buyers asked no embarrassing questions about the variety of brands in the herd. It remained an outlaw hideout until Mormon settlers began moving into Snake Valley and settled nearby Burbank. In time the new arrivals crowded out the criminals. As they left, Garrison began looking like a town with a future. A post office was established, named Garrison for one of the settlers, and a general store opened by “James & Clay” became a favourite meeting place for valley farmers.”

Excerpt from “Some Dreams Die” by George A Thompson, Dream Garden Press, Salt Lake City 1982 and 1999.