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Cedar City

The City Hall for Cedar City, known locally as "Festival City USA," is located at 10 North Main Street, Cedar City UT 84720; phone: 435-586-2950.

Beginnings [1]

The Mormon pioneers under the direction of Brigham Young, the head of the Mormon Church at the time, settled the Salt Lake valley on land that was owned by Mexico in the summer of 1847. The following year Mexico ceded the land of present day Utah to the United States to be governed as a territory. Brigham Young envisioned an economically independent Mormon "Kingdom of God" extending throughout the mountain west and soon sent out colonizing parties from Salt Lake City to realize this dream. The proposed Mormon State of Deseret covered 265,000 square miles, an area now part or all of nine western states. A unique aspect of the settlement of Utah was the ability of Mormon church leaders to "call" or direct people to settle in a particular area at a pre-selected site under church leadership. These "calls" were seen as revelations from God and rarely refused.

Pioneer Mormon society had a great need for iron. Costs for shipping iron implements overland from the east were exorbitant because of the weight. Used iron hinges and wagon parts were often melted down and recast because of their scarcity. In the search for economic independence for their people, Mormon church leaders were interested in finding and promoting local iron works. Word of iron ore in profusion to the south led Brigham Young to "call" 169 men, women and children to develop an iron-manufacturing center close to what is now Cedar City. The first settlement in Parowan in 1851 was established both to investigate the iron deposits as well as to provide a supply base on the route from Salt Lake City to California, the "Mormon Corridor," uniting the towns of the proposed State of Deseret.

A small group of thirty-five men skilled in mining and manufacturing led by Captains Henry Lunt and Peter M. Fife moved twenty miles south from Parowan to the area now known as Cedar City to establish an iron works on November 11, 1851. Hopes for success were high and Brigham Young instructed the Mormon missionaries in England to raise capital as well as to recruit converts with iron mining and manufacturing skills to support the Iron Mission. The State of Deseret chartered Cedar City in Iron County, Territory of Utah, on February 10, 1852.

By the fall of 1852 a batch of iron was produced in Cedar City, the first time that iron had been made west of the Mississippi River. The iron works produced "a few andirons, kitchen utensils, flat irons, wagon wheels, molasses rolls and machine castings" in the six years of its existence. Many factors conspired against the success of the iron mission: bad crop years, floods, conflicts with Native Americans (the Walker War in 1853), drought, grasshoppers, and, in 1857, the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the Utah War. In 1858 Brigham Young ordered the iron works closed. Two-thirds of the population of Cedar City moved on, leaving only 301 people in fifty-nine households. There were thirty-five (35) unoccupied houses in the 1860 census and half of 10 the surrounding agricultural lands had been abandoned.

  1. Lufkin, Beatrice, Cedar City Historic District, nomination document, 2004, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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