Write-up by Ashley Sawyer
Placed by: The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, No 292
GPS Coordinates: 37°38’57.6″N 112°26’05.0″W
Historical Marker Text:
In 1872 Meltair Hatch settled at the head of Sevier River, near the junction of Mammoth and Asay Creeks. He engaged in stock raising and operated a water-power sawmill. Soon other settlers came. Land was surveyed and irrigation ditches dug. Lime was burned by Neils P. Clove. First School was in the Hatch Home, Abram Workman Teacher. 1888 the Asay Postoffice was transferred to Hatch, Neils Ivor Clove, Postmaster. In 1892 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints organized Mammoth Ward, Aaron Asay Bishop. 1899 The ward name was changed to Hatch. 1901 to 1904 the town was moved to the present site under the Leadership of Bishop Rosmus Lynn. Camp Hatch Garfield County, Utah
In 1867, LDS Church Leaders called Meltiar Hatch and his two wives, Permelia and Mary Ann to settle the Dixie Mission, in Eagle Valley, in present day Nevada. At the time, settlers believed they were in the western part of Utah Territory. In 1866, Congress changed state boundaries, but surveyors did not determine the location of those boundaries until the fall of 1869, when Meltiar and his family learned that they were living in Nevada. In response to the news “Meltiar went to St. George to discuss with President Brigham Young about their situation. President Young advised Meltiar to move back to an area on the Sevier River near the forks of Mammoth and Asay Creeks, as there would be good range for their sheep, cattle, and horses which they had acquired while living in Dixie.”1
Given this directive from Young, Hatch moved his second wife Mary Ann and Permelia’s sons to Panguitch in Southern Utah. The next Spring, Permelia and the rest of the family also moved to Panguitch. As more families moved into Panguitch, the residents created a co-op and gathered a sizeable herd. The co-op decided to move the herd twenty miles south of Panguitch, to a ranch. “Meltiar and one of his sons took charge of this enterprise. They built a log home and corrals where Mammoth Creek tumbles down Cedar Mountain to join the Sevier River.”2
Meltiar moved his second wife, Mary Ann, and her family onto the ranch. Mary Ann cooked for the ranch hands and welcomed newcomers and travelers. Other settlers moved into the area of the Co-Op Ranch. The Hatch home thus became the center of what developed into a new town. The Hatch home held school sessions and LDS church services. The Co-Op Ranch was eventually renamed Hatchtown or Hatch. By 1880 about 100 residents lived in or near the community2.
As with most small agricultural communities in the semi-arid West, residents of Hatch had to worry about water. In October of 1901, The Upper Sevier Reservoir Company began building a large dam which would ensure plenty of water for irrigation purposes for the towns of Hatch, Panguitch, and surrounding areas. The new dam provided much needed water, but by March 1903, residents of the region expressed concern that the new dam would not hold. In March 1903, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that “The work on the reservoir is not far enough along to enable the water to run off through the spills as fast as it comes from the creek above, and there is grave danger of a break.”3 On May 19, 1903, those fears were realized when the dam broke. The breaking of the Hatchtown Dam only caused some damage to the ranchers of Circleville (42 miles north of Hatch) and fortunately did not directly impact Hatch, other than the loss of water it produced.
In May of 1907, the Inter-Mountain Republican Newspaper announced a call for bids to rebuild the Hatchtown Dam. On December 17, 1907, state engineer Caleb Tanner reported to the Inter-Mountain Republican, that the new dam would be ready by spring 1908. However, construction dragged on for several more years when tragedy struck again.
On May 25, 1914, the new dam broke. The Ogden Daily Standard call it “the biggest dam break by far in the history of Utah” and reported that it occurred at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. “The breaking of the dam let loose a small ocean, as the reservoir, which was protected by the dam, contained approximately 14,000 acre feet of water,” the Standard explained.4 When the dam broke, more than 15 homes were swept away, and 75 people or more were left homeless. Some reports claimed that up to 300 residents of the Upper Sevier Valley, including some in Hatch ended up displaced by the flood. This was the second time the Hatchtown dam broke in less than ten years. For a quiet little town like Hatch these events were traumatic and proved to be major historical incidents.
Residents of Hatch eventually recovered and life returned to normal. In the twenty-first century, Hatch is a sleepy little town with several quaint restaurants and motels. The town mostly caters to travelers along scenic US 89 as well as lodgers looking for adventure in nearby Bryce Canyon National Park.
1 Hatch Historical Committee, Wandering Home: Stories and Memories of Ira Stearns Hatch, Meltiar Hatch, and John Henry Hatch and their Wives and Children, with Historical-Genealogical and Biographical data on their Ancestry and Descendants (Provo, Utah: Community Press, c1988.) Page 32
2 Linda King Newell and Vivian Linford Talbot. A History of Garfield County. (Salt Lake City, UT: Utah State Historical Society; Garfield County Commission, 1998.) Page 115, 117
3 “Danger of Dam Breaking” Salt Lake Tribune 27 March 1903. https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6df823x/13563224
4 “Reservoir Breaks near Panguitch in This State” Ogden Daily Standard 26 May 1914 https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s62v3hx6/6743268
“Bids Are Asked for Sevier River Dam” Inter-Mountain Republican 29 May 1907 https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s63x94mw/3914343
“Hatchtown Dam Ready in Spring” Inter-Mountain Republican 17 December 1907 https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6w103wt/3932113
“Hatchtown Reservoir to be Ready in March” Inter-Mountain Republican 15 January 1909 https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s60k36nh/3975787
“Panguitch Notes” Salt Lake Herald-Republican 26 October 1901 https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s60v9jgf/10376304
“Reservoir Gives Way” Salt Lake Tribune 20 May 1903 https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s66m4hnt/13533477
“Utah Settlers Flee for Their Lives When the Hatchtown Dam Breaks” Salt Lake Telegram 26 May 1914 https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s64n0c9w/19935271
Hatch Historical Committee, Wandering Home: Stories and Memories of Ira Stearns Hatch, Meltiar Hatch, and John Henry Hatch and their Wives and Children, with Historical-Genealogical and Biographical data on their Ancestry and Descendants. Provo, Utah: Community Press, c1988.
Newell, Linda King, and Vivian Linford Talbot. A History of Garfield County. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah State Historical Society; Garfield County Commission, 1998.