In the early 19th century the valley was inhabited by Shoshone and other Native Americans. It was also the site of annual gatherings of the mountain men who inhabited the area. They used the valley as a place to trade furs, and the name of the valley comes from the practice of the mountain men who kept some of their stock of pelts in the valley to prepare for the gatherings.
In the late 1850s the valley was the site of early Mormon settlements. The first Mormon settler was William Gardner in 1852, older brother of Archibald Gardner. As the first Mormon (LDS) settlers including Brigham Young moved close to the area they began early contacts with Jim Bridger. Bridger recommended that the settlers first move into Cache Valley due to its relative abundance of fresh water. Instead, Brigham Young decided to settle in the area that has since become Salt Lake City, Utah. Yet Brigham Young later used the area for summer and fall grazing of several thousand cattle. An early snow storm covered all feed sources killing all but 800 head, thereby forcing Brigham Young to find other grazing areas.
As the LDS settlers began to prosper they began to create new settlements in other areas of the American mountain west. One of their early settlements included Logan, Utah and the eventual influx of people helped create the large number of towns that can now be found in Cache Valley. In fact, due to the strong historical ties to the people within the valley, special agreements between the states of Utah and Idaho used to allow students who live in the Idaho portion of the valley to attend Utah State University at the same cost as Utah residents. This policy has changed, however, in recent years.
In 1863 it was the site of the Bear River Massacre.