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Star Valley is located in the United Statesmarker between the Salt River Rangemarker in western Wyomingmarker and the Webster Range of eastern Idahomarker. The altitude of the valley ranges from to . Three major Wyoming rivers, the Salt River, the Greys Rivermarker and the Snake River meet near Alpine Junctionmarker at Palisades Reservoirmarker. Numerous towns are located in the valley, including Aftonmarker, Thaynemarker, Etnamarker and Smootmarker. When Star Valley was settled in the late 1870s by Mormon pioneers, it was proclaimed the "Star of All Valleys" for its natural beauty. Another theory about the origin of the name comes from Starvation (Starve) Valley, a name the area gained during bitter winters in the late 1880s. In the March of 1889, over of snow fell in two days.


Star Valley was inhabited mainly by Shoshone Indians in the summer and fall months until the early 1800s. The natives were drawn to the valley for its abundant game and the pure salt deposits found near the present town of Auburnmarker.

White explorers are known to have traveled through the area as early as 1812, seeking new routes to the West Coast. Canadian and American trappers followed, frequenting the area through the 1840s. The 1850s and 1860s saw many emigrants passing through the upper Star Valley area via the Lander Road on the Oregon Trail. White settlement of the area didn't begin in earnest, though, until the late 1870s when Mormon Apostles Moses Thatcher and Brigham Young, Jr. chose the valley for colonization. Archibald Gardner and members of his extended family arrived in 1889, building and operating five mills of various types in the valley.


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