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View looking northeast at town of Swan Lake and Lake Bonneville shorelines. The Bonneville level is at the bench at the top of the wheat field to the left of the grain elevator. The Provo level is near the base of the grain elevator, (June, 1995).
Mount Smart, west of Franklin, looking northeast from Highway 91. Franklin cemetery is in the foreground. Cemeteries for Mormon settlements were generally constructed out of town (possibly for sanitary reasons or to provide a central location for several villages), and trees planted around them. The Bonneville shoreline is near the top of the hill. The Provo shoreline is at the prominent bench just at the level of the top of the trees, (September, 1986).

About half of Cache Valley is geographically in Idaho, but 80% of its people live in Utah. Logan, at the southern end of the valley, site of Utah State University and a Mormon Tabernacle, has historically been the center of commerce. The solidly Mormon agricultural towns of Preston and Franklin on the east side of the Bear River, and Oxford, Clifton, Dayton, and Weston,west of the river, are geographically and economically closer to Logan than to the Idaho towns of Malad City, Montpelier or Pocatello. This area was settled by Mormons who thought they were living in Utah Territory,and even in the 1990s, some Preston area residents see themselves as part of Utah, feeling that they have little in common with the politicians in Boise who collect and spend their tax money.

Geologically, Cache Valley is a graben, bounded by normal faults on both the east and west sides. On the east side is the Bear River Range, which passes into the Portneuf Range on the north side of the Bear River across the canyon at Oneida Narrows. These ranges contain mainly Late Proterozoic and Paleozoic bedrock (limestone and quartzite) above the Paris thrust fault, which is exposed on the east side of the Bear River Range. West of Cache Valley are the Bannock and Malad Ranges and the Wellsville Mountains in Utah, underlain by the same Paleozoic formations as well as Late Proterozoic strata beneath, including the Brigham Group and the Pocatello Formation.

Lake Bonneville
Cache Valley was filled with the northeastern arm of Lake Bonneville, and the lake flooded to the north through Red Rock Pass into Marsh Creek, the Portneuf River, and Snake River. The unconsolidated sands and silts deposited on the floor of Lake Bonneville form the surface of Cache Valley, and, when irrigated, make excellent agricultural soil. A network of canals, the trademark of lands settled by Mormon Pioneers, provide water to much of the valley.

Bear River Range and city of Franklin, Idaho's oldest town, looking southeast from just west of Cub River. The Provo shoreline is obvious below the uneven bare hills. The Bonneville shoreline is less prominent, 400 feet above, on the steep face of the bare hills. High Creek is the prominent canyon in the background. The base of the mountains are underlain by east-dipping Late Proterozoic and Cambrian Brigham Group; Paleozoic limestone forms the summits, (June, 1992).
Osborne Russell's Journey from Fort Hall to Cache Valley, March, 1835.

"On March 25th we left the Fort and traveled about six miles southeast and encamped on a stream (called Portneuf) running into the Snake River about twelve miles below the Fort. The next day we followed up this stream in an easterly direction about 15 miles. Here we found the snow very deep. From this point (in Marsh Valley) we took a south course in the direction of Bear River. Our animals were so poor and the traveling so bad that we had to make short marches. We reached Bear River on the first day of April. The place where we struck Bear River is called Cache Valley, so called from its having formerly been a place of deposit for the fur traders. The country on the north and west side of the river is somewhat broken and uneven. It is covered with wild sage. The snow had disappeared only upon the south sides of the hills. On the south and east sides of the river lay the valley but it appeared very white and the river nearly overflowed its banks in so much as it was a very difficult crossing.

"The next morning I took a walk up a smooth spur of the mountain to look at the country. This valley commences about 30 miles below the Soda Springs. The river, running west of south, enters the valley through a deep cut in the high hill. After winding its way through the north and west borders of the valley it turns due west and runs through a deep canyon of perpendicular rocks on its way to the Salt Lake.

"The valley is nearly surrounded by high and rugged mountains from which flow large numbers of small streams crossing the valley and emptying into the river. There are large quantities of Beaver and Otter living in these streams but the melting snow raises the water so high that our trappers made but slow progress in catching them." (Haines, 1965, p. 9)