The Malad Valley is geographically located in a unique position in the Pacific Northwest. The Bear River and its main affluent, the Malad River, are the only rivers in the Pacific Northwest that drain into the Great Basin, whereas the other streams and rivers of the states of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon empty eventually into the Pacific Ocean. It is also characterized for being the northern end of prehistoric Lake Bonneville, and eventually it was through this valley that an outlet opened to drain the lake. The soil deposits from this lake left a fertile valley, capable of producing most crops found in this region.
Circumstantial evidence gives indication of many mountain men trapping and exploring in this valley. One account credits Donald McKenzie with naming the Malad River in this valley in 1819 because the flesh of its beaver, when eaten, induced illness in the party. This account, the author found, did not pertain to the Malad River, tributary of the Bear River, but to the other Malad River which is a tributary of the Snake River, over 200 miles distant. Other evidence promotes the idea that the river was named Malade because French trappers became ill from drinking the water. The two Malad Rivers were named for the same reason. Evidence supports the idea that there were two rivers which caused the same ailment when the beaver flesh was consumed. The tributary of the Snake was named by McKenzie and the fur trappers merely referred to another Sick River (Malade), the tributary of the Bear River.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; History
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Howell, Glade F., "Early History of Malad Valley" (1960). Theses and Dissertations. 4805.
Malad Valley, Idaho, Utah, History, Mormon Church, Mormons, Relations with Gentiles