Utah History to Go
Preston Nutter Made Utah the Home of His Cattle Kingdom
Overland Migrations
Bartleson-Bidwell party
Nancy Kelsey
Bryant-Rusell Party
Harlan Young Party
Hastings Cutoff
Donner Party
This is the Place
Mormon History
Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company
Handcart Companies
A Girl Triumphed Over Handcart Tradegy
Many Mormon Immigrants Delayed Their Journey
Settlement and Exploration
Colonization of Utah
Salt Lake City
The Founding and Naming of Moab
Hole-in-the-Rock Trek Remains an Epic Experience
What Made the Mormon Landscape Unique?
Snowslides Devastated Northern Utah in 1875
A Fatal Snowslide in Provo Canyon
Those Pioneering African Americans
The Lives of Six Pioneer Girls
He Was an Outsider in Utah But Not For Long
Forty-Niners in Salt Lake Valley
Utah Farmer and the Pike's Peak Gold Rush
Emma Lee Endured Many Hardships in Pioneer Utah
Alice Parker Isom Faced Challenges WIth True Grit
19th Century Utah Women Spun Yarn and Dug Ditches
Hilda Anderson Erickson, Working Woman
Oliver B. Huntington and His Bees
A Policeman's Lot in Early Salt Lake CIty
A Blind Man and His Harp
Fanny Brooks Helped Establish the Jewish Community
Reverend McLeod and Building of Independence Hall
Jenny Baker Stanford Bridged Mormon-Gentile Gap
Welshman Dan Jones Was One of Zion's Busiest Bees
The Case of Grave Robber Jean Baptiste
Slavery in Utah
History of Polygamy
The History of a Pioneer Utah Cottage
The Pioneer's Cost of Living Versus Today's
Coins and Currency
The Sego Lily, Utah's State Flower
Pestiferous Ironclads: Grasshopper Problem in Utah
From Pioneer Fort to Pioneer Park
Ensign Peak
Temple Square
Virgin River Doused Cotton Mission Settler's Hopes
Gardner Mill and the Birth of the Valley's West Side
The United Order Movement
The Beginnings of the University of Utah
Arrival of the Episcopal Church
Ben Holladay, the Stagecoach King, in Utah
The Pony Express Added a Colorful Chapter in Utah
Mark Twain's Utah
Pony Express in Utah
The Telegraph Was Information Highway of the 1860's
The Steamboat Era Was Glamorous But Brief in Utah
Cowboys and the Cattle Industry
Old La Sal Was Once a Thriving Cow Town
Preston Nutter Made Utah Home of His Cattle Kingdom
Robbers' Roost Was a Haven For Outlaws
Utah Had Hollywood Style Western Gunfights
Just Who Was the Outlaw Queen Etta Place?
Josie Bassett-Jensen's Remarkable Woman Rancher
Military in Utah
Utah War
The Civil War in Utah
Mountain Meadows Massacre
Fort Douglas
Fort Duchesne
Camp Floyd
The Colonel Orders a Grand Review

Max Evans
History Blazer, November 1995

When Preston Nutter died in January 1936 at the age of 86, the Salt Lake Telegram described him as "Utah's last great cattle king" and "one of the last links between the old west and the new." As "king"of the range, Nutter was one of the best known cattle barons in Utah, with herds of cattle numbering in the thousands roaming over vast areas of Utah, Colorado, and Arizona. Nutter was able to carve out such a successful cattle enterprise due to his business and marketing savvy and determination.

Born in Virginia in 1850, he was orphaned at the age of nine. After spending a miserable two years with relatives whom he disliked, he ran away, only to end up floating down the Mississippi River working as a cabin boy. He soon tired of this adventure and caught the next wagon train headed for San Francisco. After attending business college there, Nutter again decided it was time for a change and journeyed to Provo, Utah, where he joined Alfred Packer and his group of gold prospectors. Nutter traveled east with the prospectors into Colorado, but he soon realized that their searching was fruitless and that Alfred was a "whining fraud." So, Nutter decided to spend the winter with Chief Ouray of the Utes while Packer and some of the other men continued on into the ominous snow-packed mountains. The following spring Packer returned alone, looking fat and contented. Nutter, suspecting that something was amiss, soon discovered that Packer had eaten his five companions while trapped in a bad snowstorm. In 1883 Nutter was the prosecution's chief witness during the trial of "Alfred Packer the Man-Eater" whose notoriety spread throughout the West.

Preston Nutter Ranch
Preston Nutter Ranch

Having had enough of prospecting adventures, Nutter turned his attention to the cattle industry. After purchasing a small herd in Colorado, he looked for a sizeable piece of good rangeland. Remembering the lush mountain pastures of Utah, he drove his cattle westward into their new Utah range between Thompson Springs and Moab. Soon after arriving he struck a deal with the Cleveland Cattle Company to exchange 1,000 head of his mixed breed cattle for the Cleveland's Herefords. At the time, Herefords were not very popular with ranchers, but Nutter, with uncanny foresight, could see that in time Hereford cattle would dominate the West.

By 1888 Nutter had formed the Grand Cattle Company with his partners Ed Sands and Tom Wheeler. During the next few years the size of their herd increased dramatically, and Nutter was able to buy out most of the cattlemen around the Utah-Arizona border. Although many ranchers were wiped out by the summer droughts and severe winters of 1886 and 1887, Nutter was able to stay on top by wintering his cattle at Thompson Springs, located near a railhead, making it possible to ship in feed for the hungry herd. On the business side of the cattle industry he gained advantages by negotiating special deals in Washington and maintaining business contacts with friends in New York. Through them he was able to acquire some of the best grazing land in the Uinta Basin and access to valuable springs in the deserts of southern Utah. Arguments over who "owned" the springs were common, and Nutter met with a lot of resistance from cattle ranchers and sheepherders alike who all wanted sole access to the water. However, rather than duking it out in a "range war" Nutter preferred to settle water-rights disputes in a legal manner and as a result spent many hours of his life in the courtroom.

To keep his cattle business running smoothly he spent days on end in the saddle and when riding across the state on a horse or a mule, he was occupied with selling and buying cattle, checking out new grazing land, hassling with the sheepherders who were invading his land, or dealing with rustlers. As a result, Nutter was 58 years old before he got married and started to settle down. His wife, Katherine Fenton, often joked that the only way she was able to catch him was "to agree that the honeymoon be incorporated into an eastern cattle buying trip." Katherine and Preston settled in at Nine Mile Canyon, the ranch headquarters for the Nutter Corporation which stretched across 300,000 acres. The ranch in Nine Mile Canyon is still an important historical landmark and was operated by the Nutter family until 1986 after which it was sold to the owners of the Sabine Corporation who to this day use Nine Mile Canyon as their ranching headquarters.

Preston Nutter was a man who looked to the future; he was always trying to find ways to improve his herds and to preserve the wild, rugged land that he loved so much. Right before his death he had started to negotiate with J. N. Darling, head of the U.S. Biological Survey, about turning some of his rangeland into a big game preserve. During his lifetime Nutter had built up a herd so vast that many old-timers reckoned that even Preston didn't know exactly how many cattle he owned, for he truly was the great cattle king of Utah.

Sources: Virginia N. Price and John T. Darby, "Preston Nutter: Utah Cattleman, 1886-1936," Utah Historical Quarterly 32 (1964); James H. Beckstead, Cowboying: A Tough Job in a Hard Land (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1991).


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