Utah's Iron Mission

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This page was last updated on August 20, 2019.

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The following comes from the book Our Pioneer Heritage, Volume 18, page 12, "1874, An Eventful Year," published by Daughters of Utah Pioneers in 1975)

Utah Iron-1874

A new mission, called the Iron Mission consisting of 168 persons, 120 men, 30 women, and 18 children under 14 years of age, departed Salt Lake City, December 7, 1850. They were under the leadership of George A. Smith, and reached what is now Parowan on January 13, 1851. The group was divided into two sections, one to farm and perform colonizing activities, the other to build the ironworks. This new venture was an economic necessity to Mormon colonization, as farm machinery and materials needed to build the commonwealth had to be hauled over plains and mountains by wagon train.

The colony accomplished a tremendous amount of labor in 1852. They built roads to the coal and to the iron mines, built a small furnace, a blacksmith's shop, pattern shop, moulding shop, coke ovens, an office, a canal with flume and waterwheel, opened three coal mines, hauled 100 loads of coal to the works, burned a large supply of charcoal, hauled a large amount of iron ore and crushed it with sledge hammers, built a small fort with houses for their families, and cared for their fields and livestock.

The minute book of the Deseret Iron Company, under date of Dec. 23, 1854, tells of the completion of a new furnace and in 1855, the enlarged furnace produced 1,000 lbs. of pig iron in the first 24 hours.

Iron City, Iron County, was begun in 1869 by Ebenezer Hanks and Homer Duncan. Hanks was from Parowan and Duncan from Cedar City. In August 1870, the Utah Iron Mining Co. was organized. Its officers were Ebenezer Hanks, President; Chapman Duncan, Seth M. Blair, Homer Duncan, Edmund Ellsworth and Preston Blair as directors. They organized Iron City. Their capital stock was $100,000 selling at $25.00 per share. In 1871 some coal land and mineral claims were added and the Capital Stock increased to $250,000. In 1873 John W. Young came in and the Company was reorganized under the name Great Western Iron Mining and Mfg. Company. They re-incorporated for $2,000,000 placing the stock value at $100.00 per share.

During all these years the company was making some iron. They cast most of the stamps that were used in the Pioche and Silver Reef Stamp Mills. They also made many articles of common use such as flat irons, dog irons, grates for fireplaces, castings, etc.

While the manufacture of iron had had its ups and downs through the years, in 1874 the following items appeared in the Deseret News:

Utah Iron. Yesterday Brother Arthur Stayner exhibited to us a flat-iron stand, cast at the R.R. shops in this city, of iron made by the Great Western Iron Company, in Iron County. A stove plate was also cast, and taken out of the sand while red hot. It cooled off without a flaw, which the imported iron will not do, or is very liable to crack if tried. The workmen say the Utah Iron runs like dripping, is strong and is as good as the best imported iron, but a little harder. The general opinion of the quality of the iron was very favorable. It is to be hoped that stoves and other articles of the Utah iron will soon be made in Territory. —Nov. 11th.

Iron Production. Ten tons more of Utah iron is on the way to this city from the Western Company's works at Iron City. —Dec. 1st.

Castings from Utah Iron. This morning, about two tons of castings were produced at Davis, Howe and Company works, 17th Ward, from iron made by the Great Western Company. The castings were as clean as need be desired, and we noticed among them a couple of street lamp posts. The only fault that has been even attempted to be found with the Utah iron, so far, is, that it is a trifle too hard, which does not appear, however, to be any disadvantage in castings of a general character, like those produced to-day, and the company who manufacture it are perfectly confident that they can make the non of the required softness. The successful manufacturing of iron in Utah is now demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt, and it but needs railroad connections between the works and this city to enable it to be in the van of the industries of the Territory. The Great Western Iron Mining and Manufacturing Company have ordered a hundred tons more of their iron to be delivered in this city; five tons of it have already arrived at Provo, and will probably be here today or to-morrow. It is considered by many judges as good as any produced in the United States. —Dec. 8th.