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Moab City

Grand County, Utah

City of Moab City Hall is located at 217 East Center Street, Moab, UT 84532.
Phone: 435-259-5121.

Arthur Taylor House

Photo: Arthur Taylor House, circa 1894, located on U.S. 163, Moab. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Photographed by Wikipedia Username:Tricia Simpson (own work), 2010, [cc-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed February, 2023.

Beginnings [1]

Millions of years of natural erosion from wind and water left behind the unique landscape that helped shape Moab's way of life. The first evidence of habitation in the Moab area dates back several thousand years. Pictographs and petroglyphs have been found in the area that date from 1,500 to 4,000 years old or older. The most recognized ancient culture to occupy the area was the Ancestral Puebloan, who did not inhabit the region until approximately 900 A.D. The Moab vicinity was the northern limit of Ancestral Puebloan habitation, but sometime between 1250 and 1300 A.D. the Ancestral Puebloans disappeared from the area.

While there is some disagreement regarding the entrance of modern Native Americans into the area, the Ute people were the dominant Native American group in the 18th century. The Colorado River crossing north of Moab provided the ancient people as well as those who traveled here over time a shallow and safe location for fording of the river. This crossing was a key component of the Old Spanish Trail, which ran from Santa Fe to Los Angeles.

By 1855, the Navajo were also living in Spanish Valley, just south of Moab. Around the same time, an area near Moab was settled by a Mormon missionary group. Because of conflicts with native peoples, the missionaries did not remain long. In 1874 the next group of settlers and cattlemen arrived. Ranching was their main livelihood, but some settlers attempted to grow crops including vineyards and fruit trees. By the late 1800s peaches, apples, pears, and grapes were being cultivated and shipped throughout the region. The expense of pumping irrigation water and unpredictable freezes prevented Moab from becoming a major agricultural area.

In 1890, Grand County was created by the Utah Legislature and on December 20, 1902, Moab became incorporated as a municipality. Like settlements of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Moab was laid out according to the "Plat of Zion." This grid pattern, inspired by LDS founder Joseph Smith, featured square blocks that were intended to concentrate homes, and create order. Elements of that design can still be seen today including a uniform grid pattern, a north-south orientation, wide streets and long narrow lots. The first known zoning code for Moab was published in 1954.

During the first half of the Twentieth Century, Moab's economy was primarily agrarian; mainly farming, ranching, and fruit growing. There was limited mining during these years as well. Southeast Utah became known for uranium deposits, and later became a popular area for uranium prospecting when the United States government encouraged exploration to meet the military weapon development programs.

A geologist named Charlie Steen discovered a massive high grade uranium deposit southeast of Moab and a prospecting boom began. During the 1950s Moab grew from a population of 1,275 to over 5,000 residents.

† Moab Planning & Zoning Department, Ciry of Moab General Plan, 2017, www.moabcity.org, accessed February, 2023.