Introduction and Overview
The UNEV Pipeline spans a vast cultural and natural landscape along the eastern edge of the Great Basin between Salt Lake City, Utah, and Las Vegas, Nevada. This petroleum-products line intersects places that contain evidence of prehistoric use by highly mobile people as well as remnants of historic settlement and transportation infrastructure.
You can follow the line on the pipeline map to learn about the places and associated stories of human history that help define the heritage of Utah and southeastern Nevada.
The UNEV Project in Utah and Nevada
People have traveled across the basins and deserts of Utah and Nevada for thousands of years. They adapted to local and regional conditions and moved seasonally to improve opportunities to obtain food and other critical resources. Foot travel was the only form of transportation for these hunting, foraging, and farming societies.
With European movement into the American West in the 1700s, Ute, Shoshone, and Paiute peoples acquired horses, and their patterns of transport and settlement rapidly changed. The railroad arrived in 1869 and also dramatically influenced the ways native and immigrant peoples moved across the landscape. Increasing settlement lead to additional infrastructure including telephone lines, irrigation canals, and a network of roads to move goods and services.
Today, people continue to move across the region to provide and acquire goods and services. Increasing numbers are settling in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, as well as in the smaller communities of southern Utah, which is one of the nation’s and the state’s fastest growing areas. Over the next 30 to 45 years Washington County’s population is expected to increase fourfold and Iron County’s is expected to double. Southern Nevada is also one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country in addition to its well-known tourist industry. The resources needed by these residents and visitors include petroleum products widely used for transportation services.
To meet the demand for these products, Holly Corporation, a Texas-based independent petroleum refiner and marketer, and Utah-based Sinclair Transportation Company, are jointly building the UNEV Pipeline. The 400-mile buried pipeline originates at Woods Cross Refinery near Salt Lake City and transports refined petroleum products from Salt Lake City to terminals in Cedar City, Utah, and Las Vegas, Nevada.
The landscape through which the pipeline passes consists of sagebrush flats, woodland and shrub uplands, deflated dunes, and remnant lakes of the Pleistocene Lake Bonneville that once covered much of Utah. This landscape is filled with evidence of human occupation that spans thousands of years. The pipeline intersects these places in both expected and unanticipated patterns that depict the ways in which people adapted to the conditions of their time and technology. Special places and topics in prehistory and history are described in HISTORIC PLACES and SPECIALIZED STUDIES.
Complete references can be viewed in our Additional Information section.