Adapted from: Geary, Edward A. A History of Emery County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1996; “A Brief History of Cleveland.” http://www.clevelandtown.org/history.htm. Accessed April 23, 2020.
In 1895, two couples explored the area that would be Cleveland. The first couple, Samuel N. and Ruth Pace Alger, were young newlyweds, while the second couple, Henry and Sally Whitlock Oviatt, were in their fifties. The would-be settlers made the unusual decision to settle an area four miles from the nearest water supply. The area appeared to be a good location for farming, if a canal was brought in. Construction of the Cleveland Canal began in 1885, and took four years to complete the initial twenty-five mile stretch of the canal, with an estimated price tag of $30,000 (though much of this was probably paid in labor). The construction of the canal did not immediately solve the settlements water difficulties, and the soil quite often washed out on the banks, requiring repairs. However, the canal’s construction was such that it is still in use today.
The town grew gradually during the next few years, and the town chartered a post office in 1889, at which point the town became known as Cleveland, after the President Grover Cleveland. The town was incorporated in 1916. Through the early twentieth century, it continued to grow, with a population of 353 in 1900, and a brief peach boom in 1905 and 1906 nearly doubled the towns’ population from 353 to 651. Between 1904 and 1914, Cleveland flirted briefly with Utah’s socialist party, electing a socialist constable and justice of the peace. Earnest Davies constructed the Davies Amusement Hall in 1910, which had pool tables, a stage and a dance hall. In the 1920s, a movie projector was added.
Although 1930 brought electricity to the residents of Cleveland, it coincided with several years of drought and harsh winters that took a toll on the area’s agricultural production. Depression era agencies also brought better water delivery to the town. The 1930s also brought a unique discovery to the area about eight miles east of Cleveland, when William Lee Stokes, a Cleveland native working for several major museums. By 1980, over fifteen thousand fossils were recovered, including a complete allosaurus skeleton.
Cleveland felt the benefits of the power plant boom in the 1970s, with the population growing by 113% between 1970 and 1980 though the population decreased slowly since. The population today is around 440.