Utah's principal cities are all built on terraces, or "benches" of prehistoric Lake Bonneville, a vast body of water that once covered most of western Utah and extended into Idaho and Nevada. Deltas deposited by rivers flowing into this gigantic lake were carved into relatively flat shelves by the action of shore waves. The larger lake cut an outlet through the mountains at its northern end and drained out through the Snake River country about 25,000 years ago, this sudden recession of the waters exposing the highest of the benches. After Snake drainage ceased, successive periods of recession left other old terraces standing high and dry above the bed of Great Salt Lake, which is a remnant of the ancient water body.
LOGAN, on the east side of fertile Cache (pronounced Cash) Valley, for which it is the trading center, between two ranges of the Wasatch Mountains, is built on the lowland and terraces of a north-reaching arm of prehistoric Lake Bonneville. It lies to the north of the Logan River, near the point where that stream issues from Logan Canyon in the nearby range to the east, and is 20 miles south of the Idaho line.
Visible for miles from any approach in the valley, the Mormon Temple, with its twin gray towers, stands on an eastern terrace overlooking the tree-grown city. The square gray belfry of the Mormon Tabernacle rises above the trees in the downtown area; and to the northeast, on a mountainside campus, is the bell tower of the main building of Utah State Agricultural College. Westward and northward from the city are irrigated fields of sugar beets, peas, and grain, laid out like checker squares, and the western range of the Wasatch in the background. Logan Peak, almost due east of the city, rises to an altitude of 9,713 feet. The mountains on both sides of Cache Valley are tinted with the new green of foliage in spring, while snow is still on the high peaks. In autumn the maples on the foothills turn crimson, and, after the first touch of frost, the aspen groves make bright splashes of yellow against the green firs of the higher mountains.
The city is a pleasant residential community, its streets lined with trees. Lawns are numerous, and are kept green in summer by frequent watering. Nearly every home has a vegetable and flower garden in back, and many residents of the city have prosperous farms in Cache Valley, a few miles out of town. The people are mostly of English or Scandinavian extraction. Few of their native customs survive. A few Japanese live in the vicinity and work farms in the valley. Olive-green uniforms of U. S. forest rangers are not uncommon on Logan streets, for the city is headquarters of the Cache National Forest. The Cache County Fair, held in September, is typical of all county fairs. It includes prize animals, handicrafts, produce, and industrial displays. A carnival with the usual devices is always present. Farmers gather before the displays and argue about crops and cattle. Their wives gossip by the needlework and canning exhibits and children trudge wearily at their sides. The business district, large for a city of its size, is restricted to Main and First West Streets. Logan's industries--a sugar beet factory, pea canneries, textile mills, candy factories, milk condenseries, and others--are for the most part in the western and southern part of the city, convenient to the railroad.
The first white men to visit the region, in 1824, were American beaver trappers, who cached or hid their furs in present Cache Valley (see Tour la). Because there were numerous bison and other game in "Willow Valley," as the trappers called it, they used the area as winter quarters.