The small town of Escalante was named after Silvestre Velez de Escalante, a Franciscan missionary and the first European explorer in the region. During his journey in 1776, usually referred to as the Dominguez-Escalante Expedition, Escalante and his companions passed by the Grand Canyon and were among the first white men to enter Utah.
Members of the Southern Utah militia, under the leadership of Captain James Andrus, passed through the Escalante area during the Black Hawk Indian War of the mid-1860s. They recorded finding wild potatoes growing in the area and named a valley just east of the Escalante Mountains “Potato Valley.” In 1872, a group of settlers from Panquitch investigated the area, meeting members of the John Westly Powell expedition. Powell’s group recommended any new community be named Escalante in honor of the explorer, even though the 1776 expedition never reached the remote valley. The community of Escalante was finally settled in 1875.
For more information about the history and legacy of Escalante City, visit the Escalante Heritage website at escalanteheritagecenter.org