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About Duchesne

Duchesne (pronounced /duˈʃeɪn/) is a city in and the county seat of Duchesne County, Utah, United States. The population was 1,408 at the 2000 census.


Duchesne is located at 40°9′52″N 110°24′2″W / 40.16444°N 110.40056°W / 40.16444; -110.40056 (40.164388, -110.400607). just west of the junction of the Strawberry and Duchesne rivers in the Uintah Basin of northeastern Utah.

Duchesne river is connected to the Strawberry Reservoir and to Green River.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.3 square miles (6.0 km²), all of it land.


18 September 1776 The Dominguez-Escalante expedition came from the east where they crossed blue bench and descended into Utahn north of the present day town of Duchesne. "We ascended a not very high mesa(blue bench)which was level and very stony, traveled about three quarters of a league including ascent and descent, crossed another small river (Duchesne river) which near here enters the San Cosme (Strawberry river), named it Santa Caterina de Sena, and camped on it's bank's" "Along these three rivers we have crossed today there is plenty of good land for crops to support three good settlements, with opportunities for irrigation, beautiful cottonwood groves, good pastures, with timber and firewood nearby."

Duchesne is strategically located not only due to its location at the junction of the rivers but it is also at the mouth of Indian Canyon, one of the major historic routes into the Basin from the railroad towns of Colton and Helper.

1905 - 1906 On June 7, 1905 the Secretary of the Interior directed the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to select one or more tracts of land in the Uintah Reservation suitable for townsites, so they might be reserved as such under the Statutes of the United States. Three sites were designated which are the current sites of Duchesne, Myton, and Randlett. A month later President Theodore Roosevelt approved the selections and declared these lands reserved as Townsites. On August 28 the US government opened up the Uintah Basin to settlement of land they had acquired from the Ute Indians under the allotment act of 1891. A "land lottery" was held in Vernal, UT where each person was given a ticket with a number. On August 28 numbers 1 through 111 were allowed to make their claim. August 29 the next 111 people could make their claim and so on. Sixty people, forty six adults and fourteen children, settled on the townsite that is now Duchesne and called it by its first name "Elsie"(Glen). Government surveyors laid out the streets and the survey was accepted by the government on 18 October 1905. The first cabin was built by Charles Dickerson and Charles Ragland, in October 1905. A.M. Murdock with the help of a few men put up a large circus tent to act as a trading post and post office. The name of the town was changed to Dora for a short time, after Murdock's 23 year old daughter, then changed once again to Theodore, in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt. Sept 15, 1905, Robert Duchesne Marsh was the first "white" child born in the townsite. The first winter was harsh and the residents were living in tents or other temporary shelter. When spring came the high water of the Duchesne river overflowed it's banks flooding the town. Many of the homesteaders dreams died after the first winter and they sold their claims off for next to nothing. Judge M.M. Smith recalls "one man asked me to write out a relinquishment for him, remarking, 'I must either give up my claim or my wife. She wont live here.'" Dykes were quickly built up but washed away and some of the town was under two feet of water until June. Tents and houses were moved around to avoid the flooding problem before the next spring.

The flooding continued annually until 1910 when $5000 was finally given to make the four river cut-offs needed to fix the problem. In 1906 the first bridge was built by Wasatch County across the Duchesne river in east Theodore.

1907 - 1914 The men of Theodore organized the Boosters Club and the women organized the Standard Bearers in 1907, both groups became a forceful factor in the early development of the town. With the flooding of the rivers every spring, the Boosters club was finding it hard to attract people and business to the "muddy" little town. The Boosters club raised $500 to build a bridge across the Strawberry River at the mouth of Indian Canyon. The bridge was completed in 1908, and later replaced by the state in 1914. In 1908 A.M. Murdock took down the tent and built the first store, barber shop, and post office , the "Pioneer Supply". A town hall was built by the citizens in 1907. After the flooding issue was resolved the town grew quickly. In 1910 the population of "Theodore" was 929 . The towns first newspaper, The Duchesne Record, started publication April 8, 1909. By 1910 the citizens had decided to change the name to Duchesne. The Post Office kept the name Theodore until the town's petition to change the named was acknowledged on May 5, 1911. The town was incorporated in 1913 and A.M. Murdock was the first mayor.

On July 13, 1914 "Wasatch County was divided and Duchesne County was created." Duchesne was made the county seat on Nov 5, 1914 by popular vote of the citizens of the county.

The name Duchesne is taken from the name of the river that runs through town and may be named by fur trappers in the 1820s in honor of Mother Rose Philippine Duchesne founder of the School of the Sacred Heart near St. Louis, Missouri although other theories as to the name exist.

A photograph dated 1909, showing the A. M. Murdock Pioneer Supply Store and post office at Theodore, Utah (which was located approximately where Kohl's Market stood in Duchesne in 1991) appeared in a postal history magazine in 1992. The Theodore post office operated from 1905 through 1913, when it was renamed Duchesne.


Duchesne city hosts an outdoor swimming pool, bowling alley, and library. There is also ball diamonds, and a large covered rodeo arena.


Duchesne and the surrounding area plays host to some of the best camping, fishing, boating, hunting, hiking, water skiing, and ATV riding in the state. Four miles to the west of Duchesne is Starvation Reservoir state park. Starvation reservoir was created as part of the Central Utah Project and is a great fishing lake with stocks of Rainbow trout, Small Mouth Bass, Walleye, Yellow Perch, and Utah Chub. The current catch and release state record for Walleye, and Utah Chub are held at Starvation. The reservoir is 3,500 acres (14 km2) of surface area and is great for boating. There are four boat ramps, the largest is at the marina which also hosts RV parking, boat docs, camp sites, hot showers, and an RV waste dump. Activities at Starvation Reservoir include the annual Starvation Walleye Classic and Desert Bass Busters Club Tourny.

On the banks of the Strawberry River that runs through town is a boardwalk that not only has beautiful views but also is great to fish off of. Other great stream fishing can be had on the Duchesne river, and Rock creek.

The High Uintahs wilderness area is thirty miles to the north and boasts great hiking, fishing and alpine camping.

ATV riding is permitted within city limits. Yellow stone ATV trail, and Reservation ridge ATV trails are located with twenty miles (32 km) of town.

Duchesne sits at the junction of three wildlife management units and is home to world class big game hunting. Mule deer, Prong Horn Antelope, Elk, Moose, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat, Black Bear, and Mountain Lion can be observed within miles of town.


Duchesne sits at the junction of U.S. Highway 40, U.S. Highway 191, and Utah State Route 87. US-191 from Duchesne to Helper is designated the Indian Canyon National Scenic Byway

Duchesne Municipal Airport (Airnav U69)is located two miles (3 km) northeast of town on the blue bench. The airport has a 5800 x 60 ft (18 m) asphalt runway. Runway edge lights are medium intensity available from dusk - dawn, activate MIRL RY 17/35 & PAPI 17/35 - CTAF. Wind indicator is lit. Attendance is ON CALL. Services are available by request (435) 738-2464 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Mon - Fri; after hours call (435) 738-5538.

Points of Interest

Grave of William Long aka: Harry Longabaugh aka: "The Sundance Kid". Recent research is underway that may prove that The Sundance Kid did not die in Bolivia in 1908 but returned to his family in Utah and bought and operated a farm two miles (3 km) east of Duchesne until his death in 1936. He is buried in the Duchesne City cemetery.

Pope Museum: Home of Duchesne pioneers Fred and Marie Pope. Museum contains miniature, true to scale, vehicles that depict the life style of the early settlers of Uintah Basin. Museum is located at 370 West 100 North.

Theodore Cemetery: Early pioneer cemetery that functioned from 1906 until January 1914. John Jacobs was the first burial. Forty-one early settlers are buried here. The cemetery was abandoned because of the difficulty of digging graves in the cobblestone-laden soil. The cemetery was recently restored and a large monument with names and information is located on the north end of the cemetery. Located on "D" hill, take the dirt road on the west end of town up the hill and turn East at the top. Travel east 300 yards to the monument.

Father Escalante Monument: North of Highway 40 on east entrance of town

Early Duchesne Settlement Monument: 130 West Main on north side of the road

War Memorial, World War I monument, World War II monument, Korean War monument, Vietnam War monument, Desert Storm monument: all located at 150 West Main.

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne Monument: by front entrance of the Pope Museum.


Duchesne has one public elementary school and one public high school. The schools not only service all of Duchesne City but also the communities of Bridgeland, Utahn, Strawberry, and Fruitland. Duchesne has hosted grades 1 - 8 since 1905. The first school building was built is 1912.  In 1921 ninth grade classes were added. Other classes on the 10th grade level were added through the late 1920s. On May 17, 1931 Duchesne High School held a graduation ceremony for four students that composed the first senior class. The original building was torn down in 1935 and a new Duchesne school was built that housed Kindergarten - 12th grades. Another more modern building was built in 1965 to expand the old 1935 structure. The new building included science labs, classrooms, library, and a new gymnasium. In the 1970s the old 1935 structure was torn down and replaced with a "wrestling" gymnasium, art room, wood and metal shop, more classrooms, and an auditorium. In 2004 most of the 1965 structure was torn down, except for the gymnasium, and replaced by a beautiful two story structure built around a department structure. The English department is complete with classrooms and writing labs. The Science department has classrooms and separate labs. A new gymnasium was also constructed and is complete with college size basketball court. Utah State University provides onsite professors and distance education classes at the school so all students have the opportunity to graduate from high school with an Associates degree.

Duchesne High school colors are blue and white; the mascot is the eagle. Duchesne high school sponsors a men's football team, men's and women's basketball teams, men's wrestling, women's volleyball, as well as a track and field team and cross country team. Duchesne High competes in the 1A division of the UHSAA. Men's teams have won state titles in basketball(1989), football(2006), wrestling (1981, 2008), and track and field (1993, 2004, 2005). Duchesne has sponsored athletes that have achieved all-region, all-state, all-American, and even a finalist for the High School Heisman in 2007.

Duchesne Elementary serves grades 1–6

Duchesne High School serves grades 7–12.


Duchesne city and the surrounding area is serviced by three organized churches.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has two chapels located at 130 South 300 East and 901 North 500 East.

The First Baptist Church is located at 592 East 400 South

The Catholic Church has a small mission office on west main street. The Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha mission is under direction of the Saint Helen Parish in Roosevelt, UT

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a seminary located at 181 North 200 West



Historical populations
Census Pop.
1910 929  
1920 962   3.6%
1930 590   −38.7%
1940 907   53.7%
1950 804   −11.4%
1960 770   −4.2%
1970 1,094   42.1%
1980 1,677   53.3%
1990 1,308   −22.0%
2000 1,408   7.6%

As of the census of 2000, there were 1,408 people, 463 households, and 342 families residing in the city. The population density was 611.3 people per square mile (236.4/km²). There were 550 housing units at an average density of 238.8/sq mi (92.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.95% White, 0.28% African American, 0.71% Native American, 0.36% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 0.36% from other races, and 1.21% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.77% of the population.

There were 463 households out of which 45.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.1% were married couples living together, 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.1% were non-families. 22.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.97 and the average family size was 3.55.

In the city the population was spread out with 37.1% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 9.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 96.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,426, and the median income for a family was $37,174. Males had a median income of $35,046 versus $20,417 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,337. About 11.2% of families and 12.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.3% of those under age 18 and 9.7% of those age 65 or over.

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