Map of Bear Lake area.
Oregon Trail in Bear Lake Valley
The Oregon Trail entered Bear Lake Valley near present Montpelier and followed the valley of the meandering Bear River. Travelers remarked on the abundant flowers, berry bushes and mosquitoes on this stretch of trail, in distinct contrast to the dry and windy sagebrush plains of Wyoming.
"fell on to a stream called Bear River which emptied into the Big Salt Lake. This is a beautiful country. The river which is about 20 yards wide runs through large fertile bottoms bordered by rolling ridges which gradually ascend on each side to the high ranges of dark and lofty mountains upon whose tops the snow remains nearly the year round. We traveled down this river northwest about 15 miles and encamped opposite a lake of fresh water about 60 miles in circumference which outlets into the river on the west side." Haines (1965, p. 3).
Lake and Bear River
The Bear River was named in 1818 by Donald Mackenzie and a party of trappers. Bear Lake is shallow, about 20 feet deep at most, but it overlies up to ten thousand feet of lake and marsh deposits. The lake at the south end is fed by streams from the nearby mountains, and not by the Bear River, which flows north of Bear Lake, and into which the Lake formerly drained. Today water is pumped out of the lake through a series of canals controlled by Utah Power and Light Company and several irrigation companies.
|Bear Lake, looking east toward Bear Lake fault scarp and Bear Lake Plateau. Fault line scarp is plainly visible on the steep front of the hills on the east side of the lake, (October, 1985).|
Settlement of Paris
Charles C. Rich and a group of Mormon settlers founded Paris on Sept. 26, 1863. A young man named Frederick Perris surveyed the town and left for California. The town was named after him, and the incorrect spelling was used. Robert Price, one of the leaders in Paris after 1870, built a sawmill at the mouth of Paris Canyon, designed to provide building material for all the settlements in the Bear Lake region.