FILLMORE, Utah

A vast intermountain empire, known as Deseret, was no idle dream prior to the formation of what became Utah. This empire was to be almost square in shape and nearly 500 miles across. The cradle of government for the new empire was to be located in the Millard County area rather than Salt Lake City because it was geographically the center of this vast region. The designation of both the county name and capitol name were in honor of President Millard Fillmore who had been friendly and helpful to the Mormons.

Fillmore Photo 2

In October 1851, Mormon leader and colonizer Brigham Young sent two parties south from Salt Lake City. The purpose of one was to build a statehouse and establish the future seat of government for the rapidly forming state. The other group was to settle the town of Fillmore. They immediately built a fort which was roughly in the shape of a triangle on the banks of Chalk Creek. A log schoolhouse was the first building erected and by February 1852, about 30 houses had been built along the edges to form the south and west walls of the fort.

In August 1853, martial law was declared at the fort because of conflicts with the Indians which later became known as the Walker War. In September, William Hatton was killed while standing guard at the southwest corner of the public corral at the fort, supposedly by Indians. This is not far from the present historical marker located at the corner of Main and Center streets. Little remains of the original fort today, but you can get a map at the Territorial Statehouse Museum with a walking tour showing where everything was.

Development of the territory was slow. Accommodations at Fillmore proved inadequate and too distant from the center of activity at Salt Lake City, so the capital was returned to Salt Lake City in December 1858.

Fillmore Photo 1

Today Fillmore has a population of more than 2, 000 and serves as the county seat for Millard County. It is a bustling town just off 1-15 which is the main freeway in western Utah running between St. George and Salt Lake City. The courthouse at the center of town was completed in 1920. It is part of the Territorial Statehouse Park which includes the Territorial Statehouse Museum, a military monument, an All-American Rose Society garden, and other historic buildings. All services are available in Fillmore and it serves as a good place for going on day trips exploring Millard County.

The Millard County Veterans/Military Monument located north of the Millard County Courthouse was constructed in 2000. It is a beautiful tribute to the men and women who served in all branches of the U.S. military.

The Little Rock School House is located in the Statehouse Plaza. Before the close of 1851, the pioneers of Fillmore had erected a log school room inside the fort. It had split logs for seats, a dirt roof and floor. In 1854, an adobe church was built which served as a school. In 1867, three small school buildings were erected. This is one of them and is the first building financed by taxpayers.

A tour map of the historic homes in Fillmore is available at the Territorial Statehouse Museum. It is a fascinating look at the period construction methods, stonemasonry and architecture of homes built in the area since 1858.

Fillmore is a great place from which to access the 230-mile Paiute ATV trail. This trail has been designed for recreational ATV riding. From the Pahvant Mountain Range east of Fillmore in the beautiful Fishlake National Forest, it crosses three mountain ranges and goes through rugged canyons and deserts. There is an annual ATV jamboree in Fillmore in June.

Fillmore Photo 3

Sources:
Interpretive displays at Territorial Statehouse Park and “Discovering Millard County” magazine.

Location:
Just off I-15 between Cedar City and Salt Lake City.

For more information about Fillmore, Utah, and the surrounding area, visit:
http://www.millardcountytravel.com/
or http://www.fillmorecity.org/