The names of the cities and towns of south Utah County and nearby Juab County began with different names than we use today.
Looking back at the original names and their origin provides an interesting historical perspective of where our towns and cities of today have come from.
Springville was originally called Hobble Creek because the pioneers hobbled the feet of their horses and left them along the stream to graze. As more people moved to the area the name was changed to Springville, named after Fort Springville whose name came from a nearby spring.
Spanish Fork derives its name from two Franciscan friars who explored Spanish Fork Canyon in 1776. Early Mormon settlers established farms in the Spanish Fork River bottom that became known as the Upper Settlement. Another and larger group settled an area down river known as the Lower Settlement near what is today the center of Spanish Fork.
Salem was known as Summer Spring by Native Americans and the 1851 settlers called their settlement Pond Town. The town was later named Salem after New Salem, MA., the birthplace of Lyman Curtis, who was important in the early development of central Utah.
Payson was originally called the settlement of Peteetneet Creek. That name comes from an English version of Ute Chief Pah-ti’t-ni’t, which in the Timpanogos dialect mean “our water place.” The settlement was named Payson by Brigham Young honoring James Pace who was the founding settler on behalf of the Mormon church.
Santaquin, originally settled in late 1851 and was named Summit City because it is near the summit of the divide between Utah Valley and Juab Valley. In 1856 it was renamed Santaquin after the son of a Ute Indian Chieftain friendly to the new settlers.
Goshen was initially settled by Mormon pioneers in 1857 and named after Goshen, CT.
Elberta was originally founded as Mt. Nebo. After the water failed in 1901 most original settlers moved away. A few years later, in 1907, Matthew Whitney purchased the area and renamed it Elberta after the type of peaches he was familiar with in his native New York state.
Eureka was originally known as Ruby Hollow before it developed into a mining town. In 1892 the town was incorporated under the name Eureka. The name comes from a Greek word meaning “I have found it.” Nephi was called Salt Creek by the 1851 Mormon pioneers. In 1886 the name was changed to Nephi. (Helmick is a Serve Daily contributor.)