Provo is situated in the heart of Utah Valley between the eastern shore of Utah Lake and the towering Wasatch Mountains . Mount Timpanogos dominates the northern part of the city at 11,957 feet. The rugged mountains east of Provo create one of the most picturesque backdrops in Utah.
Provo was founded in 1850 as Fort Utah in honor of the Ute Indians who inhabited the region. The name was changed to Fort Provo after the well-known French-Canadian trapper, Etienne Proveau (Provost, Provot, Provaux, etc.). He first arrived in the area in 1825. Provo was the first Mormon colony in Utah outside the Salt Lake Valley. Initial tension with Native Americans in the area gave rise to a popular saying in early Utah: "Provo or hell!"
When President James Buchanan sent United States troops to Salt Lake City to put down the "Mormon insurrection" in 1858, thousands of Mormons, including leader Brigham Young, moved to Provo. "The Move South" came to a quick end as the Mormons were "pardoned" by the new governor of Illinois, Alfred Cumming.
Provo was the second largest city in Utah until Ogden became Utah's primary railroad terminus in 1869. Provo lost in its bid as a transcontinental railroad stopping place, but thereby retained its distinctly rural flavor. It later came to be known as the "Garden City of Utah" because of its extensive fruit orchards, trees, and gardens.
The Brigham Young Academy was founded in Provo in 1875. From humble beginnings, this institution has grown into Brigham Young University, the largest church-affiliated university in the United States today. The city and the university have contributed to each other's growth over the years. Today, the university has helped generate a fledgling high-technology industry in the Provo area. It often attracts national attention through its world class academic programs, sports programs, as well as music, theater, and dance groups. The BYU Marriott School of Business Accounting programs were ranked number two in the country in 2007 by the Public Accounting Report’s Annual Survey of Accounting Professors. The Wall Street Journal also ranked the Marriott School of Business number one in the country in 2007, as well as number two for "best schools for hiring graduates with strong ethical standards."
Historically, Provo has been the focal point of Utah Valley industry, commerce, and government. Agricultural endeavors and the Provo Woolen Mills (part of the Mormon cooperative movement of the late 1860s) served as Provo's commercial staples in the late nineteenth century. Jesse Knight and other mining leaders who were made rich by nearby precious-metal mines helped create a thriving financial industry in the city. The intersection of a major water source and two railroad lines led to the completion of the Ironton steel mill in the early 1920s and later the much larger Geneva steel plant. The railroads brought in raw materials and transported finished steel products from Provo factories.
Due to its centralized location, beautiful scenery, and proximity to Salt Lake City, Provo's population has continued to grow reaching over 105,000 residents in 2000. Provo is also the County Seat. With Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University, it is no wonder that the majority of Provo's residents are between 20-24 years of age. College students are a major contributor to the labor force in the area, helping Provo's economic growth for years to come. Provo is governed by a mayor and several boards and commissions.
Provo is home to Seven Peaks Water Park, the Peaks Ice Arena, world class trout fishing on the Provo River, and much more. America's Freedom Festival at Provo is one of the nation's biggest Independence Day celebrations. This festival includes parades, contests, sporting events, and the Stadium of Fire. WinterFest in Downtown Provo includes Christmas lights, candy windows, the First Night celebration, and fireworks.
(Information courtesy Provo City)