San Juan County, Utah

San Juan County (/sæn ˈwɑːn/ san-WAHN) is a county in the southeastern portion of the U.S. state of Utah. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 14,746.[1] Its county seat is Monticello,[2] while its most populous city is Blanding. The Utah State Legislature named the county for the San Juan River, itself named by Spanish explorers (in honor of Saint John).

San Juan County
San Juan County Courthouse, Monticello
San Juan County Courthouse, Monticello
Map of Utah highlighting San Juan County
Location within the U.S. state of Utah
Map of the United States highlighting Utah
Utah's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: Coordinates: 37°38′N 109°49′W / 37.63°N 109.81°W / 37.63; -109.81
Country United States
State Utah
FoundedFebruary 17, 1880
Named forSan Juan River
SeatMonticello
Largest cityBlanding
Area
 • Total7,933 sq mi (20,550 km2)
 • Land7,820 sq mi (20,300 km2)
 • Water113 sq mi (290 km2)  1.4%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total14,518
 • Density1.8/sq mi (0.71/km2)
Time zoneUTC−7 (Mountain)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−6 (MDT)
Congressional district3rd
Websitesanjuancounty.org

San Juan County borders Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico at the Four Corners.

HistoryEdit

The Utah Territory authorized creation of San Juan County on February 17, 1880, with territories annexed from Iron, Kane, and Piute counties. There has been no change in its boundaries since its creation. Monticello was founded in 1887, and by 1895 it was large enough to be designated the seat of San Juan County.[3]

GeographyEdit

 
Ruins in Montezuma Canyon with stones of unusual size

San Juan County lies in the southeastern corner of the state of Utah. Its borders coincide with the borders of the states of Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona with Utah.[4] The convergence point of these borders, Four Corners Monument, is located at the extreme southeastern corner of the county.

The county's terrain generally slopes to the west and the south, with its highest point, Mount Peale, at 12,726 feet (3,879 m) above sea level.[5] The county has a total area of 7,933 square miles (20,550 km2), of which 7,820 square miles (20,300 km2) is land and 113 square miles (290 km2) (1.4%) is water.[6] It is the largest county by area in Utah.

The county's western and southern boundaries lie deep within gorges carved by the Colorado and San Juan Rivers. Tributary canyons, cutting through rock layers of the surrounding deserts, have carved the land up with chasms, cliffs, and plateaus. In the center of the county are Cedar Mesa, Comb Wash, Natural Bridges and Hovenweep National Monuments. Canyonlands National Park lies mostly within the county borders. The Eastern side of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area / Lake Powell is also in the county.

The Blue (Abajo) Mountains and the La Sal Mountains exceed 12,000 feet (3,700 m) in elevation. Both ranges are covered with lush forests, contrasting the scenery below. The elevation change within the county is from nearly 13,000 feet (4,000 m) in the La Sal Mountains to 3,000 feet (910 m) at Lake Powell, a difference of about 10,000 feet (3,000 m).

The county's towns lie primarily on a north-south axis along U.S. routes 191 and 163 from La Sal in the north to Monument Valley in the south.

Natural resourcesEdit

 
House on Fire ruin, one of many Ancestral Pueblo ruins in the county

In 2018, the only operating uranium processing plant in the United States was located in the town of Blanding; however, the plant was moved to be on standby in 2019.[7]

San Juan County is home to numerous oil and gas fields, including Squaw Canyon Oil Field, that produce primarily from the Desert Creek and Ismay Formations.[citation needed]

Major highwaysEdit

Adjacent countiesEdit

 
The border between San Juan (right) and Kane (left) counties along Lake Powell, taken 4 July 2022, from the International Space Station

San Juan County is bordered by more counties than any other county in the United States, at 14.[8]

Protected areasEdit

DemographicsEdit

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880204
189036578.9%
19001,023180.3%
19102,377132.4%
19203,37942.2%
19303,4963.5%
19404,71234.8%
19505,31512.8%
19609,04070.1%
19709,6066.3%
198012,25327.6%
199012,6213.0%
200014,41314.2%
201014,7462.3%
202014,518−1.5%
US Decennial Census[9]
1790–1960[10] 1900–1990[11]
1990–2000[12] 2010–2018[1] 2020[13]

2010 CensusEdit

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 14,746 people and 4,505 households in San Juan County. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 50.4% Native American, 45.8% white, 0.3% Asian, 0.2% African American and 2.3% reporting two or more races. 4.4% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.[15]

2000 CensusEdit

As of the 2000 United States Census, there were 14,413 people, 4,089 households, and 3,234 families in the county. The population density was 1.84/sqmi (0.71/km2). There were 5,449 housing units at an average density of 0.70/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 40.77% White, 0.12% Black or African American, 55.69% Native American, 0.17% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.70% from other races, and 1.51% from two or more races. 3.75% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

In the 4,089 households, 47.00% had children under 18 living with them, 60.40% were married couples living together, 14.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.90% were non-families. 18.70% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.46, and the average family size was 4.02.

The county population contained 39.30% under 18, 10.00% from 18 to 24, 25.20% from 25 to 44, 17.10% from 45 to 64, and 8.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.50 males. For every 100 females aged 18 and over, there were 94.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $28,137, and the median income for a family was $31,673. Males had a median income of $31,497 versus $19,617 for females. The per capita income for the county was $10,229. About 26.90% of families and 31.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.70% of those under age 18 and 35.10% of those aged 65 or over.

As of 2017, San Juan County was the poorest county (per capita) in the state [16] and one of the poorest in the United States.

Politics and GovernmentEdit

San Juan County has supported Republican presidents since voting for Wendell Willkie in 1940. It supported a Democrat for president in 1896 (William Jennings Bryan), 1916 (Woodrow Wilson), and 1936 (Franklin D. Roosevelt). Though a Republican vote currently secures elections, the area has voted less Republican than the rest of Utah in many national elections. In 2004, for example, George W. Bush won 60.02% in San Juan County versus 71.54% in the state. In 2020, Democrat Joe Biden needed 6.13% more votes to win the county from Donald Trump, who secured 51.2% in the county as opposed to 58.13% in the state as a whole. The county is more competitive at the state level due to its high Native American population, which leans Democratic. Notably, the county voted for the Democratic candidates in the 1988 and 2000 gubernatorial elections, both of which Republican candidates won.

Federally mandated commissioner districts put many Navajo voters in one district. The San Juan County Board of Commissioners has been majority white for many years. In 2016, a Federal District Court decision found voting districts violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution. Before the 2016 court decision, the county used an at-large voting system to elect commissioners.[17]

In 2018, the first-ever majority-Navajo commission was seated. Two of the three county commissioners, Willie Grayeyes and Kenneth Maryboy, are board members of Utah Diné Bikeyah, which supported the creation of Bears Ears National Monument.[18] In a 2019 special election, Proposition 10, which would have changed the structure of the county government to include five county commissioners, was blocked needing 153 more populous votes.[19] The proposition, spearheaded by Blanding Mayor Joe Lyman, was characterized by opponents as an effort to undermine the Navajo-majority county commission.[20] Mayor Joe Lyman characterized the proposition as a way to restore representation to Blanding, the county's largest city. He states, "I don't like how we arrived at the commissioners we have because it felt like a judicial appointment," and that "the vote is very evenly split."[21]

As of March 2020, efforts were underway to bring municipal water and electrical service to the 29-home Diné (Navajo) community of Westwater, which has existed for decades with neither just outside the city limits of Blanding.[22]

State Elected Offices
Position District Name Affiliation First Elected
  Senate 27 David Hinkins Republican 2008[23]
  House of Representatives 73 Phil Lyman Republican 2018[24]
  Board of Education 14 Mark Huntsman Nonpartisan 2014[25]
United States presidential election results for San Juan County, Utah[26]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 3,535 51.20% 3,113 45.09% 256 3.71%
2016 2,645 47.80% 2,042 36.90% 847 15.31%
2012 3,074 57.92% 2,139 40.31% 94 1.77%
2008 2,638 51.42% 2,406 46.90% 86 1.68%
2004 2,971 60.02% 1,906 38.51% 73 1.47%
2000 2,721 57.36% 1,838 38.74% 185 3.90%
1996 2,139 51.36% 1,675 40.22% 351 8.43%
1992 2,004 46.23% 1,639 37.81% 692 15.96%
1988 2,377 61.95% 1,407 36.67% 53 1.38%
1984 2,598 69.13% 1,145 30.47% 15 0.40%
1980 2,774 76.00% 763 20.90% 113 3.10%
1976 1,856 57.60% 1,182 36.69% 184 5.71%
1972 1,893 68.27% 677 24.41% 203 7.32%
1968 1,393 59.66% 680 29.12% 262 11.22%
1964 1,371 57.99% 993 42.01% 0 0.00%
1960 1,408 62.72% 837 37.28% 0 0.00%
1956 1,119 72.47% 425 27.53% 0 0.00%
1952 876 67.54% 421 32.46% 0 0.00%
1948 558 56.77% 418 42.52% 7 0.71%
1944 513 58.23% 367 41.66% 1 0.11%
1940 528 50.43% 515 49.19% 4 0.38%
1936 432 44.95% 520 54.11% 9 0.94%
1932 460 48.94% 459 48.83% 21 2.23%
1928 449 65.55% 231 33.72% 5 0.73%
1924 380 56.89% 232 34.73% 56 8.38%
1920 523 64.81% 260 32.22% 24 2.97%
1916 213 31.51% 448 66.27% 15 2.22%
1912 146 37.24% 146 37.24% 100 25.51%
1908 130 53.06% 109 44.49% 6 2.45%
1904 135 78.49% 36 20.93% 1 0.58%
1900 81 51.92% 72 46.15% 3 1.92%
1896 8 4.57% 167 95.43% 0 0.00%

CommunitiesEdit

CitiesEdit

TownsEdit

Census-designated placesEdit

Unincorporated communitiesEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ McPherson, Robert S. (1994), "Monticello", in Powell, Allan Kent (ed.), Utah History Encyclopedia, Salt Lake City UT: University of Utah Press, ISBN 0874804256, OCLC 30473917, archived from the original on January 13, 2017, retrieved April 1, 2019
  4. ^ a b c San Juan County UT Google Maps (accessed March 31, 2019)
  5. ^ The Peakbaggers website "Utah County High Points" [1] lists Mt. Peale elevation at 12,721 feet (accessed March 31, 2019)
  6. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". US Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  7. ^ U.S. Energy Information Administration. (May 2020). "2019 Domestic Uranium Production Report". Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  8. ^ "San Juan County". The University of Utah. Archived from the original on January 10, 2020. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  9. ^ "US Decennial Census". US Census Bureau. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  10. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  11. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (June 25, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". US Census Bureau. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  12. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). US Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  13. ^ 2020 Population and Housing State Data | Utah
  14. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved October 5, 2019.
  15. ^ Census QuickFacts page for San Juan County Archived June 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine accessed June 7, 2012
  16. ^ Weir, Bill (December 4, 2017). "Trump shrinks Utah monuments in historic move". CNN. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
  17. ^ Krista Langlois (June 13, 2011). "How a Utah county silenced Native American voters — and how Navajos are fighting back". US Courts. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  18. ^ Cindy Yurth (December 27, 2018). "2018: A year of schism". Navajo Times. p. A1.
  19. ^ Grabar, Henry (August 25, 2020). "The Battle for San Juan County, Utah". SLATE. Retrieved April 15, 2021.
  20. ^ Podmore, Zak (November 8, 2019). "San Juan County voters defeat ballot measure to study change in government". The Salt Lake Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Retrieved November 17, 2019.
  21. ^ Groetzinger, Kate (November 9, 2019). "County Government Fails By Close Margin". KUER. Retrieved April 15, 2021.
  22. ^ "How state and tribal leaders hope to bring water to Westwater".
  23. ^ "Senator Hinkins Utah Senate". senate.utah.gov. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  24. ^ "Rep. Lyman, Phil". Utah House of Representatives. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  25. ^ "Mark Huntsman". www.schools.utah.gov. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  26. ^ Leip, David. "US Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved March 31, 2018.

External linksEdit