Milford is located in a broad valley a few miles east of the geographical center of Beaver County . Originally, Milford was nothing more than a few shacks built on the hills near mines under excavation. Many of the miners who first came to Milford left within a few years after trying their fortune, but others came to stay. Arvin Stoddard was the first settler of the area, claiming 160 acres of land in 1880, building the first house in the area, and planting the first trees. During this same time, prospectors were searching the hills to the west and southwest for lead, silver, and gold. A Welsh smelterman, John D. Williams, came to Milford in 1880. He eventually built a smelter on land adjoining the Stoddard claim. Some contemporaries described Milford as a "perfect mudhole," or the "perfection of desolation."
Cattle-raising was also important in Milford's development. In the early 1870s three brothers settled at Pine Grove in Pine Valley west of Milford and established a cattle ranch. Within a few years several cattle companies had stock grazing in the land surrounding Milford. B.F. Saunders of Salt Lake City owned Utah's largest cattle herd--the Pike Springs Ranch--and he made Milford his shipping point. Cattle grazing was possible on nearby public domain land year round. Meadow grass covered the Beaver and Milford valleys from Hay Springs to Black Rock and supported as many as 20,000 head of cattle and 5,000 head of horses.
During the 1880s Milford became the railroad terminal for the Southern Utah Line, and it was particularly important as a loading place for the cattle of southern Utah. The railroad also enhanced Milford's importance as a supply station and the shipping center for local mines; it also facilitated trade with regional markets. Milford became the terminus for freighting activities for a region that included southern Utah, southern Nevada, and northern Arizona.
The railroad attempted three different times to extend rails from Milford to California. In 1881 work was begun on the roadbed but was quickly abandoned. In 1890 a second attempt was cut short by the national depression. The third attempt, in 1898, was successful and resulted in a line to Caliente, Nevada, by 1901. Milford was a valuable division terminal because of its excellent location and water facilities.
At the turn of the century, Milford had a population of 279, and in 1903 these inhabitants petitioned the county commission for incorporation. This facilitated both the codification of local ordinances and the unified planning for growth. Milford's Main Street was characterized by its simple frame architecture typical of mining towns. Saloons, boarding houses, and mercantile outfits lined both sides of the street. As might be expected, the town was plagued by fire and many structures burned to the ground from time to time.
In an article published in the Deseret News on 8 November 1914, Joseph Hickman claimed that "Milford has been Utah's most thorough representative of all types of frontier life." This statement describes the diverse nature of Milford's social, cultural, and economic life. Established first to service local mines, it quickly became an agricultural and stock-raising center of significance. This diversification is what allowed Milford to survive the closure of the mines, local smelters, and the slow-down of the mining industry .
Things to Do
The town is relatively quiet, with two motels, two restaurants and a fast-food place. Some visitors fish at nearby Minersville Reservoir, once a state park but now a recreation area operated by Beaver County. Desert lovers can explore ghost towns and old mines in the nearby mountains.
Small rural towns have their own unique appeal for vacationers interested in glimpsing into America's past and spending a few days in a more tranquil environment. Even with the widespread adoption of the Internet and other modern communications, residents of small towns remain connected to one another in ways urban dwellers cannot fathom. For example, community events in Beaver County are truly community affairs attracting the involvement and support of nearly all the townspeople. To witness this, one only has to attend a local 4th of July Parade or a Pioneer Days event. So, if your interests lean toward a vacation where you can take in some local color, spend leisurely time visiting quaint shops and historical sites, then Beaver County might just be the place. Although, we are best known for great outdoor recreation, there is another side to Beaver County that may hold an even greater appeal for people wanting to sample a simpler way of life for a few days.
Popular Sites & Attractions:
- Beaver Territorial Courthouse Museum: (Tours Available)
The courthouse, located in Beaver City, was built in 1876, and is great place to begin your excursion into the county's past. An historic park adjacent to the building features a statue of Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television. A restoration project is underway to move the Farnsworth family home to a location next to the historic park.
- Beaver City Opera House: Situated just across the street from the Territorial Courthouse is the Beaver Opera House. This grand facility constructed of volcanic pink tufa block was built in 1908. The building now serves as the town's civic center. (Tours Available)
- Historical Buildings & Homes: For many tourists, an important part of the vacation itinerary includes visits to historic sites and roaming neighborhoods in search of 19th Century home architecture. Beaver City has more than 30 significant buildings from log cabins to unique basalt rock houses. In Milford there are an estimated dozen or more historic sites. Of special note is the Milford Hotel, that is currently under renovation to become a Bed and Breakfast facility. In addition, the Minersville City office building, built in 1876, is one of the older structures in the county.
- Popular Shops & Attractions:
(1) Beaver Sport & Pawn: It's not often you'll come across a shop that appeals to both men and women. However, Beaver Sport & Pawn , is just such a store. We suggest you set aside more than a few minutes to browse this 9,000 sq. ft. emporium located in the historic Low Hotel. The store bills itself as “The Most Amazing Sporting Goods & Pawn Shop You'll Ever Visit”. We think you will agree when you see the plethora of sporting goods antiques/collectables and more that the store has to offer. The store attracts visitors and buyers from around the West.
(2) DFA Cache Valley Cheese: A trip to Beaver City wouldn't be complete if you failed to stop at the Beaver Cheese Factory for a delicious snack and a chance to stock up on some great cheese products. The chalet shop is a great place to spend some leisurely time licking a yummy ice cream cone, chatting with friends, and browsing through the store's fashionable crafts and gifts.
(3) Surewood Forest Candle & Gift Company : It's safe to say that we all love an enjoyable surprise. And, that is exactly what you'll experience when you pay a visit to Surewood Forest located on Main street in Beaver City. This fun filled shop is truly “an original” as are the many unique sculptured candles they produce right on the premises. Ask to see their unusual black light candle display and the various Disney candle characters. Are you adventurous? Have your hand dipped in wax and get your own one-of-a-kind sculpture. Surewood Forest has some of the most exclusive gifts in the country.
(4) Rock House Quilts: One of Beaver City's oldest landmarks is the one remaining building that was part of the U. S Military Fort named "Fort Cameron" built in 1872. Under the command of Major John D. Wilkins, four companies from the Fourteenth Infantry making up a complement of approximately 215 soldiers established the military post on the Beaver River one mile from the mouth of Beaver Canyon. Today, the structure is home to Rock House Quilts. Kevin and Michelle McNeill renovated and restored the building in 2004.