The following account is taken from a 1916 Union Pacific Railroad Brochure. It was kindly provided by webmaster Rick Stirling.
Bear Lake County, in the extreme southeast corner of the State, has one of the highest average altitudes of any county in the State; there is no portion as low as 5,500 feet above sea level. It is traversed by the Union Pacific System from Pocatello to Granger, which follows the course of the Bear river. The Bear, rising in Utah, flows northward through the southwest corner of Wyoming and into Idaho, and makes a great detour to flow again southward into Great Salt Lake. It and its small tributaries form the water system for Bear Lake County. Connected with Bear river by an artificial channel, is beautiful Bear lake, one of the most wonderful bodies of water in the West. The lake lies partly in Utah and partly in Idaho, and is to be used as a storage reservoir for a great hydro-electric plant at Grace, in Bannock County, that will develop 46,000 horsepower.
The precipitation is enough to make irrigation less necessary than in the lower altitudes, though much land is irrigated. Land is worth from $60.00 upward. Small grains and grass form the principal product; pasture grasses do especially well, and dairying is the most promising industry.
Some of the finest dairy herds in the State are found in Bear Lake County. Immense deposits of phosphate have been found in Bear Lake County, and are to be developed under a recent ruling of the United States government, which had held them under reserve. It promises to free the United States from the necessity of importing phosphate for fertilizer. Some lime deposits are also found. The Caribou Forest reserve, with headquarters at Montpelier, reaches into Bear Lake County; the grazing industry is most important.
Paris, the county seat, is at the terminus of the branch road of the Oregon Short Line from Montpelier. The town has 800 inhabitants; bank, newspaper, good schools, the Fielding Academy, county buildings and a considerable contributing territory. There are several small towns in the county--St. Charles, Fish Haven on Bear lake, and Bloomington; and, on the main line, Dingle, Pegram and Georgetown. The county has a population of 12,000, mostly rural.
Montpelier, a freight division point on the Oregon Short Line of the Union Pacific System, has 2,100 people, and a monthly pay roll of from $20,000 to $30,000. There are two banks, with resources of about $800,000, a newspaper, a public library, a flour mill, municipally-owned water works, six churches, schools with 700 pupils and a fine railroad men's club room. The place is the business and social metropolis of the county. Irrigated farm lands along the Bear River valley are worth from $40.00 an acre upwards; nonirrigated lands sell for less. The forest reserve comes close enough to the town and the valley to make it a boon to the settler who wants firewood or pasture range. The Caribou reserve covers 718,000 acres; there is probably no homestead land anywhere within its borders, because of its elevation.
There is still some good non-irrigated land to be filed on in Bear Lake County, though it is being taken up rapidly. Lumber is worth from $25.00 per M. upwards. Water for domestic purposes can be had readily throughout most of the farming section. All the small streams are filled with trout, and there is good hunting back in the mountains, at the head of the Blackfoot river. Bear lake is one of the finest boating and bathing resorts in the State. There is a well-equipped hot springs sanitarium on the east shore of the lake.