Malad City sits at the base of the foothills lining the east side of Malad Valley. Grassland fills the valley, checkered with farms, and extends up the hilly mountain sides. Forests of junipers can be seen on the higher slopes. The early settlers of Malad planted many trees throughout the city such that today the town looks like a forest at one corner of the valley.
The layout of the town is quite odd. Bannock Street cuts diagonally through the town from the southeast to the northwest. North of this street are large city blocks with wide streets, laid out on a north-south, east-west axis, in the style of the Mormon pioneer settlements. Main Street is easternmost of the streets in this part of town. After crossing Main Street, Bannock Street turns to the south and is called South Main. This southern part of the town and the few streets southwest of Bannock Street are narrow and randomly laid out, reminiscent of a railroad town.
The name Malad comes from the Malad River which passes through the west side of the valley, and which the valley was named after. In early times the valley was viewed as desolate and was given a name taken from a French word meaning “sickly”. Despite this, Malad is a clean, healthy agricultural city and no one pays attention to the origin of the name.
In 1855, Brigham Young scouted out Malad Valley and Marsh Valley to the north of it, looking for prospective settlement sites. He reported that Malad Valley didn’t look very promising on the journey northward, but after seeing the unpromising country further north, it looked like “the most beautiful valley that any person had ever saw”, as they made their return journey. The next year a fort was established at Malad by Ezra Barnard and 15 families. The first permanent settler was A. W. Varderwood, who came in 1863. The railroad was built to Malad in 1906, bringing an increase in population.
Malad is the county seat of Oneida County. With a population of 2,158, it is the largest city in the county. Interstate 15 passes by on the east side and State Highway 38 leads into the remote valleys further west. Before the the freeway was built, U.S. Highway 191 passed through the city. The elevation is 4,540 feet.