Enoch, Utah – History
Enoch is a fairly young town. Although it began to be inhabited in 1851, it was not incorporated until 1966.
The core of the town is a giant triangle beginning at the North Main St. Exit from I-15 north to Mid Valley Road – East to Old Hwy 91 – and returning south to the intersection with North Main St. Portions of Old Hwy 91 and Mid Valley Road were the original Old Spanish Trail. For traveling Mexican caravans between 1829 and 1848, the Old Spanish National Historic Trail was known as the shortest path to riches between Los Angeles and Santa Fe. It was a trail of commercial opportunity and western adventure as well as slave trading, horse thieving and raids. The Old Spanish Trail route was established along a loose network of Indian footpaths that crossed the wide expanse of the Colorado Plateau and the Mojave Desert. With time, this newly established trade corridor attracted frontiersmen and U.S. military expeditions.
This corridor, along with interest from the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, encouraged Joel Johnson to the area during the summer of 1851 and he discovered a springs on the bench one-fourth mile to the east. Joel H. Johnson was so impressed with the spot, that he sought and received permission from George A. Smith to build a house and corral at the springs and care for the cattle belonging to the settlers of Iron County. They dug two cellars just west of where the Gibson home now stands. Here they lived for about three years, and the place was then known as Johnson’s Springs. These springs were found for a distance of a mile or more both north and south along the bench. By December of 1852, there were seven families living at Johnson’s Springs.
In 1854, Brigham Young called other families to assist in this endeavor and to help build a fort for protection. The fort was named after Johnson who built his home inside the fort. The fort was 10 rods square (165′ x 165′). The 9′ high walls, made of clay, were 2 1/2′ thick at the bottom and 18″ thick at the top. There was a large gate made of logs on the north side and a smaller gate on the south. For drinking water a well was dug in the center of the fort. Apple orchards and vegetable gardens were planted. A large two-story building, called the Bastion, was built with portholes for defense. Some of the cottonwood trees planted near the fort, now enormous, survive to this day. In 1881, the fort became a mail station between Milford and Silver Reef. Ownership of the fort has changed many times. It was always a favorite gathering place for holiday celebrations like the 4th and 24th of July and May Day. Some remains of the fort are visible one-half mile north of this marker. Marker Name: Johnson’s Fort
During the year 1869, John P. Jones and sons moved from the fort and purchased land and springs on the east bench of the community. John P. Jones, who was an iron worker, built a blast furnace and coke oven and melted iron and molded fire grates, dog irons, cogwheels, and even a 500 pound hammer to drive the piles for irrigation dams being constructed in southern Utah. The blast furnace did not use iron ore, but used scrap iron in its operation. The blast furnace was made from the boiler of an old railroad steam engine. This was the first blast furnace west of the Mississippi River.
The community retained its original name of Johnson’s Springs until 1890, when they petitioned the government for a post office. As there was already a settlement in Utah called Johnson Springs, the citizens changed the name to Enoch, and the first post office in Iron County was established. Enoch was named after the Mormon United Order, or Order of Enoch which had been organized by Jones.
On January 10, 1966, Enoch was approved by the Iron County Commissioners as an incorporated town. Two meetings were held before the action was taken. A petition was drawn up and signed by a majority. One hundred people had to live in the area to qualify, and Enoch qualified with 102. The community was formed to protect their water supply.