Bear River (Utah)

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The Bear River is a river, approximately 350 mi (563 km) long in southwestern Wyoming, southeastern Idaho, and northern Utah in the United States. The largest tributary of the Great Salt Lake, it drains a mountainous area and farming valleys east of the lake and southwest of the Snake River Plain.

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Description

The course of the river essentially makes a large inverted U around the north end of the Wasatch Range. It rises in northeastern Utah in several short forks on the north side of the high Uinta Mountains in southern Summit County. It flows north, cutting across the southwest corner of Wyoming past Evanston then weaving along the Utah-Wyoming state line as it flows north. It turns northwest into Franklin County, Idaho to flow through the Bear Valley, past Montpelier where it receives the short Bear Lake Outlet that drains Bear Lake on the Idaho-Utah border. At Soda Springs, at the north end of the Wasatch Range, it turns abruptly south, flowing past Preston in the broad Cache Valley that extends north from Logan, Utah. It re-enters northern Utah, meandering south past Cornish and Newton. It is impounded to form the Cutler Reservoir, where it receives the Little Bear River from the south. From the west end of Cutler Reservoir it flows south through the Bear River Valley past Bear River City. It receives the Malad River from the north just before emptying into the mud flats in a broad bay on the west side of the Great Salt Lake, approximately 10 mi (16 km) southwest of Brigham City.

The river is used extensively for irrigation in the farming valleys through which it flows in its lower reaches Idaho and northern Utah The lower 10 mi (16 km) of the river near its delta on the Great Salt Lake are protected as part of Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.

History

In the early 19th century the river valley was inhabited by Shoshone. Fur trappers from the Hudson's Bay Company began to explore the area, moving south from the Snake River, as early as 1812. The Cache valley was early destination for Mormon pioneers in the late 1840s. On January 29, 1863 troops of the United States Army attacked a Shoshone winter village in the Cache Valley, slaughtering many of its inhabitants. The incident has come to be known as the Bear River Massacre.

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